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As it stands now, Packers would host Seahawks


Tyler from Greenfield, WI

I was on vacation in Las Vegas when I met a couple from Pittsburgh. They were sporting their Steelers apparel and I had a Packers hat on. We struck a conversation about our football. The couple from Pittsburgh told me that whenever the Steelers are not playing, they root for the Packers. I really liked to hear that. It warmed my heart. You've spent a lot of time in Pittsburgh. Is this common among Steelers fans?

It's common for people in Pittsburgh to be the fan of two teams: the Steelers and the team with the player or coach on it from the fan's neighborhood. People in Greenfield are Packers fans because Mike McCarthy is from Greenfield. People from Johnny Unitas' neighborhood were Colts fans; Dan Marino's neighborhood, Dolphins fans. People from Monongahela were 49ers fans because Joe Montana is from Monongahela. People from Beaver Falls were Jets fans because Joe Namath is from Beaver Falls. People from Aliquippa were fans of Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Ty Law and their teams, and are fans of Darrelle Revis, Paul Posluszny and their teams. My dad took me to my first pro game because Dick Modzelewski played for the Giants and "Little Mo" was from my hometown. Maybe the couple you met are from Greenfield. Hey, you're from Greenfield.

Robert from Las Vegas, NV

Notre Dame clearly does not belong in any title game. They are the weakest of the top group by far, and they do not have a national following. Only you Catholics wish to believe that nonsense.

An Irish blessing: May "Touchdown Jesus" fill your heart with love and kindness, and may the Irish win the national championship and make your life miserable.

Phil from Crofton, MD

Are there rules from the NFL about how a visiting team locker room has to be set up, how nice or what amenities it has to have? What are the nicest visiting locker rooms you've been to and what are some of the worst?

There are NFL standards visiting locker rooms are expected to meet, and the procedures are the same everywhere, but I don't think the league mandates a specific number of shower heads or toilets. Stadiums tailor their facilities according to their needs. For example, the stadium in Jacksonville also hosts the Florida-Georgia game and the Gator Bowl, so it has two visitors locker rooms and they are extra large so they can accommodate large college rosters. The visitors' locker room at Lambeau Field is certainly one of the largest, nicest and most accommodating I've ever seen. The worst visitors' locker room I've ever seen, and I saw it every year for more than 20 years, was the one in old Cleveland Stadium. It was so bad it was good. You had to go up a narrow flight of stairs from the dugout tunnel to get there from the field, which posed a problem for trainers trying to get injured players to the locker room. The locker room was about the size of a big kitchen and it had a big cement support in the middle of it. It's the only locker room I've ever been in that had one of those girly calendars advertising shock absorbers or oil filters that you'd expect to see at an auto repair shop. The playing field at Cleveland Stadium can best be described as mud with hair on it. Players always wore the long cleat for games there, and the floor of the locker room was covered in mud, which meant a trip from the shower back to the locker stall usually resulted in muddy feet. Those days in this league are long gone.

John from Olympia, WA

How about elaborating a little on that Georgia Tech-Cumberland game?

Cumberland had dropped football during the offseason but Georgia Tech held Cumberland to its contract to play the game, or pay a huge financial penalty. Tech was still angry about a 22-0 pasting it suffered to Cumberland in baseball; Tech accused Cumberland of using professional players in that game. To avoid paying the penalty, Cumberland put together a small band of students willing to get knocked around the field by Tech for the sake of dear old U. In the process, that small band of Cumberland students became immortal.

Paul from Ossian, IN

Vic, I was reading through the transcript of the game chat when I came across this statement from you: "I think it's most important to finish strong. It's all about crunch time. That's when the stars shine." Prophet, Vic?

There's nothing prophetic about that. That's just the way it is in this league. It's about crunch time. It's always been that way.

John from Eagan, MN

Vic, if you could give Mason Crosby one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be the ball.

Dave from Grand Rapids, MI

Vic, scheme-wise, what do you think Capers has done to put his guys in position to hit the quarterback this year, as compared to last year?

He's using the same schemes he used last year. He's using the same schemes I saw him use in Pittsburgh and in Jacksonville. The schemes haven't changed, the players have.

Victor from Brazil

I just want to thank you for your opinion on the "enjoy the crunch-time football" approach to games. I'm a diehard Packers fan since 1994 and was committed to those player-ratings, statistics jungle. Now I'm done with that.

Do you reject stats that lie? Do you enjoy seeing a pads-down back pop through a well-blocked hole? Do you appreciate the grit of a man playing through obvious pain? Do you live for crunch time and the look in a quarterback's eye that says, "Let's go"? If you can answer yes to those four questions, you are a Ketchmanite.

Matt from Cupar, Scotland

Tied with the Bears for Thanksgiving. Nice prediction, Vic.

Piece of cake.

Augustus from Humboldt, CA

Vic, I must say I'm glad I took your advice to have fun yesterday. I wore my khakis and jersey to Candlestick Park and watched the Niners knock the Bears from the top spot, and not once did I worry about playing San Francisco in January and I even had a pretzel in your honor. Thanks for the good advice.

I was wearing my khakis last night when the score hit 20-0 and it was obvious the Bears were toast. That's when my eyes got heavy. What I can tell you about what I saw up to that point is this: I think the 49ers have found their quarterback of the future. They're going to be around for a while. I think they just got tougher to beat.

Koti from Vijayawada, India

What exactly do captains do?

They do a lot of important things, like making sure all of the players get invitations to the Christmas party. This is an especially big week for captains all around the league. This is the week they arrange for the big turkey giveaway for rookies. They have to make sure all of the rookies receive an invitation to pick up their free turkey, and then arrange for a supermarket at which the rookies can pick up the free turkey, and then make sure the team's video guy has a hidden camera positioned at the super market to record video of those rookies that arrive to get their free turkey. It's always a highlight of the Saturday night team meeting.

Chris from Knoxville, IL

When Cobb muffed the kickoff and it rolled into the end zone, he brought it out and only got to the 7-yard line. The commentators said he should have downed it, but if he had, it would have been a safety, right?

No, it would've been a touchback because the momentum of the kick carried the ball into the end zone. I think Randall Cobb knew the rule, but in the heat of the moment, you don't have time to think things out, so you act instinctively. Cobb's instinct was to run. That is the instinct of a football player, to be aggressive, not pensive.

Francisco from Mexico

Why does it look tougher for the Packers to convert a third-and-one than a third-and-long?

Converting short yardage with the run is one of the weaknesses of this offense and it seems to be a leaguewide problem. Ironically, coaches are going for it on fourth-and-short more than at any time since I've started covering the league, yet, offenses are failing to convert at a rate you would think would cause coaches to punt more often. Why are offenses struggling to pound out a yard? I think it's because line surge is a lost art. Today's offensive linemen aren't the road-graders they once were because they don't play low enough to be drive-blockers. This is a pass-block league now. Linemen are judged by their ability to block while going backward. Run-blocking isn't about moving a defender, it's about turning him, and that doesn't work in short yardage because there are too many defenders to turn in a cramped space. Converting short yardage with the run is about line surge and moving the line of scrimmage and, frankly, I don't see much of it anywhere.

John from Union Grove, WI

"I have a feeling tonight's going to be a good night to be a Packers fan." You called it.

Easy stuff.

Caleb from Wasilla, AK

Vic, it seems like a lot of your writers are complaining about the "bad football" the Packers are winning with. While the offense hasn't been scoring 35 a game like last year, I think the defense has been playing great, especially considering the injuries. To me the Packers look like a team that is finding ways to win games during a tough stretch with lots of injuries, and about to hit their stride as more players return for the home stretch.

I think the 13-0 run last year distorted a lot of fans' view of what winning is. By the way, can you really see Russia from there?

Rick from Fountain Valley, CA

Mike McCarthy says he wasn't happy with his play-calling against Detroit. What specifically bothered him?

No coach is going to tell you specifically what he didn't like because that goes to strategy. My guess is he had some things on his play-call sheet he wanted to get to and didn't get to them. The Packers only ran 59 plays in that game. That's probably the reason.

Mike from Dallas, TX

If the playoffs started today, the Packers would host the Seahawks. Is it wrong for me to not want the first-round bye, just for things to stay the same until then?

Good theater, huh? One of my first thoughts when I had a chance to gather my thoughts following the insanity the last play of that game produced was: They'll play again. It's a kind of reporter's instinct. I felt that way following the Packers' win over the Giants last year.

Juan from New York, NY

Ed Reed has been suspended one game for his illegal hit. I don't really have a question, I just wanted to vent a little bit.

The Steelers and Ravens should be treated differently. They should be left alone on these types of matters when they play against each other. They'll take care of it.

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