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Crunch time will decide MVP race


David from Wheaton, IL

Out of the countless injuries the Packers have had this season, which one has been the most difficult for the team to overcome?

I think the loss of Cedric Benson cost the Packers a loss in Indianapolis. The Packers were outplayed by the 49ers and robbed of a win by the officials in Seattle, but the loss in Indianapolis, in my opinion, is directly attributable to losing Benson late in the first half. Maybe the running game is more important than most people think, huh?

Marty from Mesa, AZ

I've had the pleasure to watch games and have dinner with Ed "The Claw" Sprinkle quite a few times over the last few years. He is quite the character and a cool cat as well.

You're lucky he didn't rip your arm off and eat it.

Marcia from Beloit, WI

How bad would it be to know your team is an extreme underdog and has almost no chance of beating your opponent? I feel, as Packer fans, we never have to fear that. We always have a good chance to win each game.

That's a fantastic luxury that should be enjoyed and cherished, because it doesn't have to be that way. There is no rule that says the Packers must win. In fact, this franchise went through a long, extended period of losing when, in fact, it had no chance of beating some of its opponents. Those days are gone, and it's because the Packers have a personnel department and a coaching staff that embrace a proven philosophy for winning. Enjoy it, but don't take it for granted, because it doesn't have to be this way.

Armin from Salem, Tamil Nadu India

Hi, Vic, I am a huge fan of the Packers and update myself daily. I am not so long a football fan as many others here, but I am really addicted. Anyhow, I have a question regarding the helmets: I observed that the backside of the helmets differ. Sometimes they are evenly shaped, sometimes with some irregularity. Why is that?

It's because there are several helmet models that employ different designs. We are in an era of helmet awareness. We'll do anything to protect the head. Once upon a time, players could literally fold their helmets and put them in their back pocket. Nowadays, they'd barely fit into the trunk of my car, and that's a trend that's going to continue.

Mark from Jacksonville, NC

Why do so many players wear their helmets so loosely? It seems there would be fewer concussions if the players wore their helmets properly.

It's not that they wear their helmets loosely that causes their helmets to come off their head. The helmets are coming off because they're oversized and rigid. Even the trend-setter of all modern-era helmets, the Riddell suspension helmet, was pliable enough that you could widen the helmet at its ear flaps when you put it on your head, which allowed a form fit. That pliability doesn't exist in today's helmets, and that's why they tend to come loose from the head.

Andy from Milwaukee, WI

Bill Parcells called out players throughout his career and at all of his coaching stops.

Not so much when he was winning with the Giants. He had a problem with it early in his career with the Giants, and then became more supportive of his players during their Super Bowl years. It was after his days with the Giants that Parcells' personality really soured, and it hurt him. His coaching performance with the Cowboys was subpar.

Jarret from Redfield, SD

I know this is about the Packers but who would you have play in the BCS title game if Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame all go undefeated?

I would have Notre Dame in that game. The opponent doesn't matter. Why Notre Dame? Because last year's TV rating for the Alabama-LSU title game was a disaster. Kansas State gives you Kansas and Oregon gives you Portland. Notre Dame delivers the nation. No school produces eyeballs and TV sets as Notre Dame does. I guarantee, the NCAA knows what it'll be facing in the way of pressure from the TV network that has the game, if those three teams are all undefeated at season's end. I hope it does turn out that way, because it'll further bring into focus the need for a playoff system. This is the penalty college football is paying for not having one. It would be comical if Oregon and Kansas State ended up in the national title game, and not Notre Dame. I can already hear the TVs in New York turning off.

Sean from Chicago, IL

Vic, just wondering how many emails you got from people today saying something to the effect of you always say players, not plays, but in your 10 things column you talk about the importance of Dom Capers' scheme and outcoaching the Lions. What gives?

When your ranks are depleted, you have to do more with less, but that doesn't change the fact that X's and O's don't move, only players move. The Packers need a good plan on defense, and then they need their players to play above the X's and O's.

Mike from North Aurora, IL

There are still some nicknames around today. Doug Martin is known as the "Muscle Hamster." I'm not sure I understand that one, but it is unique.

Nicknames today trend toward the silly side. They tend to sound like something you'd call your girlfriend, not a feared opponent. I think I know why: They're being created by teammates, not sports writers. "The Four Horsemen" was coined by Grantland Rice. If Crowley, Layden, Miller and Stuhldreher played today, their teammates might dub them "The Pony Boys." Yuk! Hey, I want some power in a nickname. Who wants to be compared to a hamster?

Robert from New Lisbon, WI

Do you think Aaron Rodgers can win MVP this season, with tough competition like Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning and even Adrian Peterson?

It's wide open. I don't see a leader. It's going to be decided by the crunch time part of the season, and that's as it should be.

Howard from Milwaukee, WI

For a league that promotes so much player safety, why do they let players run around without thigh or knee pads on?

The players want it that way, and I think that's a mistake for a couple of reasons: 1.) I think it's subjecting them to unnecessary injury. 2.) I don't think it's going to help their cause in litigation against the league.

James from Wausau, WI

I might know the answer to this but I would like your take on it. If you say quarterbacks and coaches are attached at the hip, then why didn't Favre leave when Holmgren did?

Obviously, the Packers weren't going to let Brett Favre leave with Mike Holmgren. Usually, coaches don't leave a quarterback the caliber of Favre. Usually, coaches that have that kind of star-power quarterback ride out his career. I think it was a mistake to leave.

Tony from Killeen, TX

I'd be so happy if the NFL got rid of Thursday night games. It's diluted. Bills vs. Dolphins? Last important Thursday night game was Packers and Bears. Monday Night Football has almost become the same.

I thought last night's game was very entertaining. Monday night's game went into overtime. This isn't the only team and town in the league. Buffalo and Miami have had a nice rivalry for a long time, dating back to the AFL days. Are we being a little guilty of myteamitis? Was the Bears-Packers game really that good? Jay Cutler had a passer rating of 28.2. The only things I can remember from that game are a fake field goal and seven sacks by the Packers. I think we need to widen our view a little bit.

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