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Cardinals defense as good as they come

Sunday's game will reveal Packers' postseason readiness


"Ask Vic" will appear on Christmas morning, but there will be no "Ask Vic Chat" in the afternoon.

Chris from Ridgeland, MS

Vic, first, I just want to say your efforts are appreciated. How much of an impact will the loss of Tyrann Mathieu affect the Cards in our game vs. them, and in their title hopes?

They lost a playmaker. They lost a player who leads the team with five interceptions. That's not a good thing, but I completely agree with Coach Arians' opinion, that the Cardinals are deep at the position and, of course, you can replace players, but replacing quarterbacks is another matter. One more thing: Mathieu's five interceptions are directly related to the fact he plays opposite a shutdown cornerback opponents don't test. All the action is directed toward the other side of the field. Patrick Peterson gives the Cardinals the great luxury of ignoring one side of the field, and training their focus of their scheme to the other side. It's a great example of how players dictate scheme. I think the Cardinals have suffered a loss, but Peterson's presence and the emergence of Justin Bethel will ease the effects of having lost Mathieu.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Vic, if Shields plays, I believe our defense matches up well against the Cardinals offense. How do you think their defense matches up with the Packers' offense?

The Cardinals defense matches up well against any opponent. In my opinion, the Cardinals defense is the equal of any defense the Packers have faced this season.

Craig from Sheboygan, WI

Do you know what divisions the NFC North play next year?

The NFC East and AFC South. Next year, the Packers will play at Philadelphia, Washington, Jacksonville and Tennessee, and will host Dallas, the Giants, Houston and Indianapolis.

Carrie from San Jose, CA

It's mid-week and I'm still reading articles about Aaron Rodgers' lake of enthusiasm in his postgame press conference. How energetic do we expect a guy to be after not only playing a football game, but also standing in the rain for three hours?

There's a great lesson in Rodgers' postgame press conference: Fans don't want the truth; they want the show.

Benjamin from Edgerton, WI

Vic, the Arizona game will be a great litmus test for the Packers. If the offense performs well, do you think fans will stop worrying so much and appreciate the games? I am looking forward to a playoff-type game.

Worry is Packers fans' steady companion. If the Packers were 14-0, the fans would be worried the team was due for a loss. Whatever the circumstances are, they'll find a reason to worry. The fear of losing has a paralyzing grip on Packers fans.

Courtney from Butte, MT

Knock it off. Yep, that was your worst article.

Merry Christmas!

Jake from Fargo, ND

You getting any funny feelings about the game against the Cardinals this weekend? Stomach aches, headaches, you know, things like that?

No, my mind is clear for this one. I am in full watch mode. My attitude is show me what you got. This game will reveal the Packers' readiness for the postseason. We're beyond the point of speculation and analysis. It's all on the scoreboard for us to see. That's the way I like it.

Jerome from Wichita, KS

Do you fly to away games with the team? Is there the opportunity to sit with a player on the plane for a chat or interview?

Yes to the first question, no to the second. Once upon a time, it was yes to both. I can remember times when a player would sit next to me, because he wanted to talk. Every player had a guy who was his guy in the media. There would be a bond of trust between the two, and the player would use that reporter to get his message out. Frank Pollard was a hard-nosed, try-hard running back I loved. On the last road trip of the year, Pollard asked the fellow sitting next to me for his seat for a few minutes. Frank sat down next to me and told me he was retiring. He had a wonderful career and he wanted to talk about it. He wanted to talk to the fans. I miss those days.

Matthew from Waipahu, HI

My man, Vic! Never mind the negative stuff said about you. I love your work and keep it up.

Mele Kalikimaka!

Patrick from Saint Paul, MN

After weeks of rain here, the snow finally started to fall. I like that the Packers can't afford to coast into the postseason this year. A very merry Christmas to you, Vic.

It poured rain all day yesterday. This morning, the wind nearly blew my hair off.

Del from Sterling, IL

Vic, just thought you might like to know, I saw the thing in a local store. It retailed for $7.75. I didn't buy one.

It's completely useless, but it gave us some fun in midseason, when we desperately needed some fun.

Murray from Thunder Bay, Canada

Why are the quarterbacks allowed to throw the ball out of bounds with no eligible receiver in the area, to avoid a sack? Should this not be grounding?

The rules are specific on how to throw the ball away to avoid a sack. Once upon a time, a quarterback would have to throw the ball over the head of a receiver and out of bounds to stop the clock without being called for intentional grounding. A wide receiver would make a sharp move to the sideline and the quarterback would throw it over his head. It took time to execute, and the league viewed those as wasted seconds that could be added to the action part of the game, so the league gave us the spike. Then came the out-of-the-pocket throwaway, which is an effort to protect a quarterback in peril. I'm OK with those rules changes because those plays have to be executed a certain way.

Noah from Carlisle, AR

How does your hair manage to stay so perfectly placed and shiny?

Toupee? I'll never tell.

Jake from Great River, NY

Vic, let's face it. You say Aaron Rodgers and the passing attack have created unrealistic expectations, but what's wrong with being angry about the way the Packers offense has been playing?

If that increases your joy, go for it. Angry doesn't increase my joy.

Tom from Chicago, IL

I absolutely despised you, but gave you a chance. You made me enjoy game day for the first time in my life. What a thrill to experience the team I have loved my whole life. Thank you.

I'm glad you don't despise me anymore.

John from Elsmere, KY

What was your opinion on the Ravens' pants they wore against the Chiefs? And being as you don't cover the Steelers anymore and can give an unbiased opinion, how far do you see them going this year? I have a feeling the secondary will be the Achilles heel of this team against Brady or Wilson, to name a few.

At first, I thought the Ravens had stolen the Steelers' pants. The Ravens' uniforms are kind of dull; anything colorful would be an improvement. The Steelers? So, when I was covering them I needed to be biased, but now that I'm not covering them it's OK to be objective? I don't get that. I think Mike Tomlin has done a sensational job of getting that team to where it is, despite having lost Maurkice Pouncey and Le'Veon Bell, and fighting through a season with a secondary that was expected to be a trouble spot from the beginning. Expectations for them are not high, and I think that's increasing their fans' joy. If that secondary or the pass rush gets hot, you never know. As far as the Packers' secondary, I think it's one of the best young groups in the league. I think it's one of the true strengths of this team.

Dan from Orlando, FL

Vic, with the stupid display of sportsmanship this past weekend, can you give us a memory of sportsmanship you have seen in in your career?

It's what you don't see that counts. I was given an assignment to do a magazine story on Donnie Shell. It was a deeper-look kind of piece, so I called Ozzie Newsome to talk to him about Shell. They had been combatants for a long time. Newsome gushed about Shell. He talked about how other safeties trash-talked and took cheap shots, but Shell never did. Newsome talked about the mutual respect they had for each other. I thought about all of the games I had covered between the two players, and I couldn't remember one incident of bluster or bombast. They did their jobs, and then they went back to the huddle and prepared to do their job again. That's sportsmanship. It's nice to hear one player speak of another player respectfully.

Cassidy from Carlsbad, CA

Vic, can we have all your detractors get their idioms straight? It is "toe the line," not "tow the line." I've seen this a couple of times now. How does "tow the line" express conformity? For the record, I don't agree with the notion. Thanks for the honesty, Vic, and happy holidays!

Wayne Weaver came to me in 2000 and asked me to do the Jaguars' team website. At the time, Wayne was head of the league's business ventures committee, and was the league's big venture, so Wayne figured he had to buff up his own team's site. I asked Wayne the big question: What are your expectations for me? In other words, how much freedom do I have? He told me I would have freedom to write as I pleased, with one caveat: Just don't embarrass this franchise. I said, "I accept." I have never embarrassed a team I've covered, nor would I ever want to embarrass any subject about whom I'm writing. I've kept Wayne's one admonition at the heart of my work since then. It's served me well. I have never lied to my readers, and I have never embarrassed the team I'm covering. I'm at peace.

Chris from Minneapolis, MN

It's a Festivus miracle! There is now a working link to submit questions from the mobile app. Thanks for making it easier for us to air our grievances.

We are defined by our complaints.

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