Can the Packers stay hot? senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in his weekly chat.


Hey everybody. Happy New Year to all. Let's get going.

Comment From Linda P

Hey Mike, How exciting is this? How far can we go with the injuries at corner?

It's been a heck of a ride so far. No reason it can't continue. The injuries at CB are the biggest concern, no doubt. It'll be a week to week proposition who matches up with whom, and you make the best of it.

Comment From Nathan

How did our secondary hold the Lions to only a fluke Hail-Mary with no healthy cornerbacks? Good thing we have plenty of safeties, at least.

Guys are playing as hybrids all over the place out of necessity now. Hyde and Burnett had already done some of that, but now Brice is in the hybrid mix at slot corner, Hyde was moved to boundary corner. It was a gutty effort given they were up against maybe the best fourth-quarter QB in the league this year.

Comment From Lynn

Happy new year, Mike. Am I correct that the Packers would have won the division even if they had lost one of the last games (other than Detroit)?

That's correct, but that extra loss could not have come against the Bears or Vikings, either, I don't think. And what you say is true also because the Lions lost to both the Giants and Cowboys down the stretch.

Comment From Ethan

If we ask the Chargers nicely, do you think they would let us take Casey Hayward back just for the playoffs? What a season for that guy!

Nice try. Hey, congrats to Hayward. A great guy to talk to when he was here, always enjoyed him. No way the Packers could have predicted so many injuries at one position.

Comment From Paul

What's the mood in the front office with Wolf and Gutekunst interviewing today?

It's business as usual around here. There's a playoff game coming up.

Comment From Jon

This team will go as far as 12 will take them. Rodgers gets criticized at times for his low number of 4th quarter comebacks, but with an ailing secondary, those two 4th quarter touchdown drivers were as clutch as it gets.

No question. Those drives kept the Packers in the lead and gave a banged-up defense some cushion. If he doesn't make that incredible start-stop scramble play and TD throw to Allison, a FG only puts the Packers up 6 and it's still a one-score game with 10 minutes left.

Comment From Eric

Hi Mike, If Rodgers isn't the MVP, I don't know who is. He's taken the team on his shoulders for pretty much the entire season and should be recognized as such.

I'll be very curious how the vote shakes out. I haven't looked at Matt Ryan's game by game numbers to really compare, but I think it comes down to those two. I don't think enough voters will lean toward Brady after the four-game suspension. Some will, but not enough.

Comment From Dave

My bears buddies think that if you put Rodgers on the bears and gave us their lousy quarterbacks from this season you could flip flop our records. I know Vic would say "the man" 'matters most-- what day you?

It's a quarterback-driven league. The rules and everything else make it so. Look at where the Raiders are now. If you don't have a good QB, you're playing uphill every week.

Comment From Pete

Happy New Year Mike.Did you anticipate G-Mo making this much progress at the start of the season?

He definitely showed promise in the preseason but you just never know how a young receiver is going to react getting thrown into this offense for real, with Rodgers and the way he runs things. What Allison has done is impressive.

Comment From Peter

Mike, I know it's one game at a time but I'm pretty confident Packers will play Dallas next week and then at the 12th man the following week. Your take?

I'm not looking ahead either, but I think you're dismissing the Falcons way too easily.

Comment From Lynn

Quinten Rollins overnight visit to the hospital got me thinking . . . when a hospitalized player misses the chartered flight home, does someone stay behind with him? And then, how does he get transported home?

I don't know all the details of the Rollins episode, but I know in some past situations, a member of the medical staff has stayed behind with the player and they catch a flight home the next day. Just good to hear that he's doing OK.

Comment From Matt

What exactly happened with Rollins? It didn't look like much on film, but was clearly more than meets the eye.

It did look like a rather innocent, ordinary play, which just tells you how quickly things can happen in this league. All I could figure after seeing multiple replays is the way his head hit the turf out of bounds must have done something to his neck. We'll see if Rollins talks to reporters this week to get any more info.

Comment From Paul

I was surprised the Lions didn't try more home run shots with the DB situation so shaky. They hit a couple, but overall seemed to settle for shorter passes. Why do you think that was?

When I looked at the game film yesterday, it seemed Stafford was fixated on the Tate vs. Hyde matchup. He went to Ebron vs. Brice a couple of times, but he really seemed to be targeting Tate, and it bit him on the back-shoulder throw at the goal line that Hyde played perfectly.

Comment From Kenton

I read that the MVP is voted on by the "press". Are you (or one of the other Packer reporters) a voter? Or do the voters have to be independent of any particular team?

It's a panel put together by The Associated Press, 50 voters total. There is at least one voter in each NFL market, plus several national writers, and all the media outlets represented are not affiliated with the NFL.

Comment From JD

Was it so loud in Ford Field to explain all of the penalties by the offensive line? They did a great job as usual but just not used to seeing all of the false starts.

A few times they thought the D-line jumped first, but the call didn't go the Packers' way. I don't know if the officials just missed those, or if they determined that the flinches by the Lions did not cross into the neutral zone, therefore the penalties were on GB.

Comment From Dave

Hi Mike who was injured on Sunday night that wasn't a defensive back?

LB Joe Thomas left when his back flared up again. It's too bad, because he was off to a strong start in that game. Thomas has really played well. We haven't gotten any injury updates yet as far as this week is concerned on anybody.

Comment From Beau

Not only did the win get them the home playoff game, but it gave them an extra day of preparation . . . But really maybe two days because you guys would have left Friday for Seattle, correct?

The Lions are really in a tough spot. Short week for the second week in a row, and now a West Coast trip to boot. That was an important win for many reasons.

Comment From Jacob

Is it odd that the offense seems to be functioning better with Nelson in the slot and Geronimo and Adams on outside? I've always thought Cobb was a great playmaker but this group seems to be getting it done at an even better rate!

It all depends on how defenses are matching up with Nelson. The Packers will move him around to find the right matchups and adjust accordingly.

Comment From Jeff

To use a boxing analogy: I feel that Ripkowski was used as the body blow in the first half. Once the line was softened up, Montgomery was the upercut in the second half.

I didn't expect it to go that way, but Ripkowski was getting positive yards, and Montgomery limped off the field at some point. Both had productive runs, and that's all that mattered.

Comment From Kenton

So if by some twist of fate, the Lions continue to win, then we could face them in the NFC championship game at Lambeau, right?

If the Packers and Lions both win twice, they would meet at Lambeau for the NFC title, yes.

Comment From Dave

Mike, as a fan we often have to contemplate the choice: go to the game or watch on tv. I could use some advice: my older son wants to go to the game and my younger is up for the couch. How does dad decide?

Tough one. Whatever you decide, don't sell your tickets to Giants fans.

Comment From Paul

Sunday night was my first in-person Packers game. Give credit to Lions fans...Ford Field was rocking for the first 3.5 quarters.

That was by far the loudest I've heard Ford Field in the 10 times I've been there. Not even close. The place was all decked out in blue, and there was very little green and gold compared to other years.

Comment From Geoff

What kind of experience do the Giants have in bad weather this year? Will it stay cold in GB for Sunday?

The played a cold game or two in Jersey late this season, if I recall. I heard today that it's a high of 19 for Sunday, so nothing drastic.

Comment From Willie

How do the Packers allow Adams to throw the football over the goal post at such a key point in the game.It cost the Packers 15 yards on the kick off and the coverage was good so at the end of the day it was no big deal. But no one knew that when the penalty was called. I only played in high school but if you made a play like that you got splinters in your back side for the balance of the game.

It wasn't a smart play by Adams. I keep wondering if the NFL is going to allow teams to take those penalties on the PAT, to make it a 48-yard extra point, for example.

Comment From John Z

How concerning were the 10 penelties against the Lions? Was that a product of the hostile environment of Ford Field or is this squad prone to lapses in discipline? 75 yards might change the complexion of a game against a more formidable opponent. Your thoughts?

There were others that were declined, too. I already addressed the false starts. I thought the officials were calling offensive holding awfully tight on the Packers. One call on Lang I just flat out didn't see it. They also flagged the Lions a couple of times for defensive holding, calls that are let go as often as not. It was one of those games.

Comment From KK

Mike, it seems like when the Packers offense is at its best, they are able to take lots of time off the clock at the end of the game or even run out the clock. Shouldn't that give the team lots of confidence in matching up against teams like NY or possibly Atlanta or Dallas?

The fourth-quarter drives this team has put together during the winning streak have really stood out. Philly, Houston, now the Detroit game. It's called crunch time for a reason.

Comment From Dave

What makes the Giants defense so formidable? Line, backfield or scheme? Excluding our early season Giants game, have we played another that is similar recently?

I haven't looked at them too closely. I think their DBs are pretty tough, but they don't have the pass rush their two Super Bowl teams of the past decade had. They're good, but not to that level. They're very hard to run against. Damon Harrison in the middle of that D-line is a tough customer.

Comment From Jon

Mike, I love your WYMM segments. In play #2 this week, it's amazing to see how much 54 (I believe Levy? No slouch there.) gets spun around trying to follow all the moving parts and stick to his assignment. Great play design.

Thanks. I thought the way that passing lane opened up for that slant was just textbook. It doesn't always happen that way, but when it does, it's a thing of beauty. That ball is out of Rodgers' hand so quick.

Comment From Jessy in Rugby, ND

Hey Mike, Any updates on Nick Perry? Is he going to continue to wear a club?

Sure seems that way. He's got three sacks in the last two games with it now.

Comment From Buck from Robinson Lake

Hey Mike, Thanks so much for your hard work all season! The Giants have been suspect against A-gap blitzes... get in Eli's face and he likes to throw it away. Do you think Dom will dial up blitzes as a matter of routine, considering our weaknesses in the back end?

Pressuring Eli will be one of the keys to this game. The Giants will be prepared with their protection calls. Ideally, the Packers can get some pressure without blitzing and keep help in the back end against OBJ. If you send the blitz, it better get home.

Comment From Eric

Mike, I really thought Clay's "missed pick" could have really been a game changer, especially after Detroit went down to score on that drive. Glad it worked out differently.

I agree. The defense giving up the third-and-15 after the Martinez sack led to the first TD, and then Clay missed the pick on the second TD drive. You can't let those opportunities get away, because good QBs will make you pay.

Comment From Timmy D.

What happens when Cobb is good to go? Hard to picture Geronimo being put back on the bench when he has put together a few nice games. Rodgers has a surprisingly strong trust with him!

Getting Cobb back as another option won't be a bad thing. McCarthy is as creative as it gets with personnel groups, so who knows how he'll play it.

Comment From Dave

Mike, any reason to be concerned about a let down emotionally? The packers put so much into this streak and running the table,

The Packers have been playing playoff football since after Thanksgiving. I don't see any kind of emotional letdown. You keep riding it.

Comment From Tim J (MN)

Mike, I was surprised the Packers didn't get as much pass rush on the Lions. Any concerns here with this weeks game and a beat up secondary. I feel we need to force Manning to pass quick to help our CB situation. He seemed to do that against another team (maybe Pit or Philly) as he was worried about the pick up of pressure. Any thoughts on their O-Line? Thanks.

The Giants are running the ball much better now than they were when the Packers beat them back in Week 5. That says something about their O-line. Manning was only sacked 21 times this year, so they've protected him pretty well, because he's not overly mobile. The Giants are tough in the trenches, just like the Packers in my opinion.

Comment From Jeff

I don't think Vic would agree with you about 19 degrees not being drastic.

Of course not, but it will be colder than 19 by the second quarter when the sun goes down.

Comment From Chris

I'm going to my first playoff game on Sunday, but I'm a bit concerned about facing the Giants, a team that's had the Packers' number in the playoffs of late. Third time's the charm, right?

I don't think the two previous Giants playoff appearances here have any bearing on Sunday. I really don't. Different teams, different coaching staff. The only constant is Manning, and the way Rodgers is playing, I think he can outplay him.

Comment From Charlie

Where do you get the snazzy shirts you wear?

The Packers Pro Shop folks take good care of me for all my on-camera stuff.

Comment From Jessy in Rugby, ND

In Games that Jared Cook has a catch this year we are 8-2 and averaging over 28 ppg. I think he plays a huge part into the Packers offensive explosion the last 6 weeks.

The attention he's drawing from defenses has been just as important, if not moreso. Other teams are paying attention to him, because they know if he's left one-on-one against a smaller defender, Rodgers likes to throw it up there and let him go get it. But when a second guy hangs around, someone else can break open.

Comment From Nathan

Hey, Mike. what is the biggest challenge awaiting the Pack in the matchup against the Giants? How do they overcome it? Finally, what is YOUR prediction for that game? How do you see it playing out? Thanks!

I think the biggest challenge defensively will be handling OBJ, and offensively it will be finishing drives with TDs instead of FGs against a tough defense. If the Packers finish drives, pressure Eli, and limit the big plays by OBJ, I think Green Bay wins.

Comment From Susie

Happy New Year and Thanks for the chat! Who will the Packers play next when they win? Cowboys or Falcons? I would prefer Falcons but considering how this team stepped up, bring it on, Packers can do this!

The Lions-Seahawks game will determine where the Packers-Giants winner is headed. If Detroit wins, the Lions to go Dallas, and Packers-Giants winner goes to Atlanta. If the Seahawks win, they go to Atlanta, and Packers-Giants winner goes to Dallas.

Comment From Alan

Do you think Rodgers decided on his own to fake the ball to Montgomery and zip around the corner himself on third-and-one? I can't see McCarthy, no matter his penchant for creativity, drawing it up like that.

It looked like a zone read, but I think Rodgers was keeping that all the way, and I think it was designed that way. With Rodgers healthy now, I think it was drawn up exactly like that.

Comment From Lori

Which Packer players do you expect will have big games this week?

I have no idea, but if it's the Packers' pass rushers like Matthews and Peppers, I like Green Bay's chances.

Comment From Jeff from Idaho

Hey, If the games comes down to last second field goal to win, how good is Mason in cold weather over Gould?

Both have kicked plenty in the cold in their careers. It'll be more about the wind, if they can get a read on it in the stadium. Lambeau can be tricky that way.

Comment From Dave

Mike, you gotta address the picture at the top of this column, please! What is that?!?

I have no idea. It's not a photo. It's from the chat service we use for these live events.

Comment From John Z

Was just about to ask you what you've seen from Peppers since the strip sack against Chicago. Has he been productive in limited snaps or is Father Time catching up as many suggest?

I saw Peppers lay a big hit on Stafford early in the game, but Stafford stood in there and delivered a strike anyway.

OK, I've gotta run soon, but I'll take a few more. Thanks for all the questions.

Comment From Lorenzo

Howdy Mike,Did anyone note that not only was Clay Matthews playing injured, as a result he was lining up on his not-normal side (protecting the left shoulder from impact). Huge effort from all involved, as others (i.E. Peppers had to play from the opposite position as well.

I've seen that mentioned. It's a tough deal for everyone, but nobody is crying for the Packers. There's no crying in football.

Comment From Joe

Hi Mike, Would be a nice time to break one of those punt returns you keep predicting!!!!!!!

I know, right? I'll have to stay quiet now. I really thought Hyde was gonna break one these last two games.

Comment From Matt

On play 4 of WYMM (the flat pass to Montgomery), I was more impressed with Ty's situational awareness ad toughness staying in bounds to keep the clock running. 9 times out of 10, the player goes out of bounds to avoid the hit on plays like that.

I noticed that too at the time. Really smart play. The clock had gone under five minutes by then, I believe, so it would have been stopped all the way until the next snap had he gone out.

Comment From Lee

I think Packers started to play playoff football when they played the Eagles.

Yeah, it's kind of been that way. I remember McCarthy standing at the podium at FedEx Field after the Washington loss and saying six losses puts your backside up against it. There was no more wiggle room.

Comment From Dave

Mike, you said I shouldn't worry about the "mission accomplished" mindset, but you're answering questions about who we play next...what about, "just beat the Giants"??

Just trying to set the stage for everyone for those who don't know the scenarios.

Comment From Guest

I know Jared Cook is a quiet guy, but what are the chances he makes a speech to the other players about relishing the opportunity to play in the playoffs and not to take it for granted?

I don't know. He doesn't seem to be the kind of guy to do that, but we'll see.

Comment From Don H

Eli will throw one pick over the middle that goes back to the brickyard for 6 our way ... guaranteed ...

As I like to say, works for me.

Comment From Lee

Packers will beat the Giants this Sunday because they are hot.

Let's call that the last word for today. Have a good rest of the week everybody. Enjoy the playoffs. Take care, Mike

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