Skip to main content
Powered by

Everyone's got a Thanksgiving football story

Here's the plan for winning the NFC North


Pete from Stoke, UK

You say the next two games are eminently winnable. Would you like to expand that statement and tell us why you think so?

I'm getting a lot of flak for that line from those insisting the season is over. They took exception to my Tuesday headline, I guess because they prefer giving up. I get frustration, but I don't get concession. That's not how I'm wired. The Eagles have lost five of seven games, and the Texans are a warm-weather team with an unproven QB coming to Lambeau the first week in December, 13 days after playing in Mexico. I'm not saying any win will be easy. Philly is 4-0 at home and hasn't allowed more than 15 points to an opponent at the Linc this year. Houston is 6-4 and leading the AFC South, having recently beaten Detroit and two teams the Packers lost to earlier this month. But the Packers can beat these teams. Will they? That's why we'll watch, at least some of us anyway.

Vincent from Campbell, CA

This team, and specifically the defense, has been historically bad the past four games. There's a sliver of hope left still. The fan in me is saying that we still can pull this off, but the realist in me is wondering if there is anything that would lead me to believe that this team can turn it around. What is one thing that you believe could turn it around?

A win. One big play from the defense in the fourth quarter might be all it takes. It might be all it would have taken against Atlanta, Indy or Washington.

Charles from Statham, GA

There has been much talk about Cook getting healthy and being a boost to the offense. So what route does Cook run that the other tight ends we have had can't run?

Did you not notice that Cook ran deep and had receptions of 47 and 29 yards in one quarter, when the longest completion to a Green Bay tight end in the first nine games was 22 yards? Cook was wide open on the first play of the game, too, running down the seam, and Rodgers missed him.

Dennis from Rhinelander, WI

So Mike referenced "Seinfeld" again. Does he wear a "puffy shirt" in the press box?

Only when Wes brings his "amazing Technicolor dreamcoat."

Jake from Minneapolis, MN

One of the Tuesday questions got me thinking. What kind of effect does the latest CBA, with the reduction in padded practice and contact drills, have on the draft-and-develop strategy? It seems as though that approach has lost a lot of opportunity in the development stage. Does the latest CBA need to have an effect on our personnel approach?

I understand where you're coming from, and I've heard McCarthy mention the CBA constraints on player development now versus his first five years as head coach. But it was just two years ago, with the current CBA three years old, that the Packers were less than five minutes from the Super Bowl with the same approach, albeit with a much healthier team. I'm just not sure how you manage your cap for the long haul if the backups in case of injury are higher-paid veterans as opposed to young, developing players.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Do you think the next CBA will include more practice time in pads?

I doubt it.

Steve from Bradenton, FL

Guys, one of the negative things this injury-laden season has given us is having to waive players you have spent time and money on in order to fill an injured player's spot. In my opinion, that endangers the future of the team much more than just picking up a free agent or two to fill the toolbox. Draft/develop/waive confuses me.

I get this line of thinking, too, but if an injured player is staying on the roster and not going on IR, and another player is needed, someone has to get waived. Veterans with four accrued seasons are guaranteed their full-year salary if they're on the roster for Week 1, so if you're waiving vested veterans instead of young guys, you're paying players not to play for you and piling up dead money on the cap.

Jack from Kellogg, MN

Wes and Mike, I feel pretty strongly that Vic would have banned Mike from Lakewood, WA, for asking when the Packers are going to get an indoor stadium so that they can host a Super Bowl. Are the days of banning over?

Wes just couldn't do it the day before Thanksgiving.

Roger from Indianapolis, IN

Green Bay will never put up a dome (and should not) and will not be able to host a Super Bowl. I think Chicago (not the Bears) should get a Super Bowl. As an iconic franchise in the NFL, they deserve it. New York (Jersey) got one. Let the real fans sit in an open roof stadium in February and see real football. Your thoughts?

I'd be all for northern, outdoor stadiums getting to host Super Bowls, but I think Jersey was a one-shot deal for the NFL.

Alex from Tampa, FL

As Badger fans, who should we be pulling for in the Ohio State vs. Michigan game? Does it make a difference?

Assuming Wisconsin beats Minnesota at home to get to the Big Ten title game, which I don't think is a gimme, UW's least complicated path to the playoff would be for Michigan to beat Ohio State and for the Badgers to get revenge on the Wolverines. But minus its starting QB, Michigan will have a very hard time beating Ohio State, so I'm expecting Penn State to play for the league title and the Buckeyes to go to the playoff with one loss. I'm not convinced the committee would take two Big Ten teams – and a two-loss champion – for the playoff if either Washington or Clemson doesn't lose another game. So the Badgers would need help if OSU wins. I keep thinking back to N.C. State's kicker on Oct. 15.

The Packers were at practice Wednesday afternoon inside the Don Hutson Center ahead of Monday's game in Philadelphia. Photos by Evan Siegle,

Bob from Baraboo, WI

Any word on Damarious Randall?

He practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday. If he practices Friday in full pads, I like his chances of playing, but it's still wait and see.

James from Milwaukee, WI

What was with the cover zero on the long bomb plays for Kirk Cousins? Putting Joe Thomas on a wideout was a mismatch all the way. On a third-and-long I thought Capers would have devoted more safety help. I'm not advocating dismissing staff in a rash sense, but it was an unorthodox strategy given the personnel constraints on the down and distance.

The safety blitz on third-and-7 left Thomas alone on Crowder, and when the blitz got blocked up, it was game over. On third-and-11 late in the third quarter, Capers rushed four and kept both safeties back, but the rush didn't get home and Cousins had time to wait for the two safeties to commit to the two outside deep routes and went to Crowder one-on-one over the middle vs. Rollins. When your four-man rush can't generate consistent pressure, a coordinator with a banged-up secondary is playing a guessing game as to what'll work.

Nick from Millbury, MA

If the Dolphins who started 1-4 can win five in a row, what makes everyone think the Packers can't do that?

Miami's only win in the first five weeks of the season was over Cleveland. Then the Dolphins found a running back who put up back-to-back 200-yard games, and their season changed. Jay Ajayi doesn't need to rush for 200 yards again for opponents to approach Miami differently the rest of the year.

Anton from Green Bay, WI

We were taking about who will come back from IR, Shields or Lacy, now we get none of them. That's this season so far summed up in a second.

I tried warning everybody multiple times this was a distinct possibility.

Nick from Toronto, Ontario

Hi, Insiders. With the news of Lacy being shut down for the remainder of the season, what is your opinion on his future? Do you think his performance this year has earned him a long-term or short prove-it contract, or do you think we have to see what we have in Montgomery and Michael before deciding?

I think there are a ton of factors, in addition to those you mention. Lacy's overall health at the conclusion of his rehab might be the biggest. The depth of the running back class in the draft could be another. Whatever decision is eventually made, it's a long way off.

Collin from Wilton, WI

Just comes to show how unpredictable the NFL is. Three of the favorites in the NFC in the Packers, Cardinals, and Panthers are all on the brink of missing the playoffs. Where did the analysts go wrong?

Perhaps they didn't realize how rare last year was. In 2015, only two of the six playoff teams in the NFC were not in the postseason the prior year. If my quick research is correct, all other years for the past decade (going back to 2006), at least three of the NFC's playoff qualifiers did not get there the year before, including four of the entrants in '09 and five in '08. That puts Green Bay's current seven-year streak in yet another light for me.

Charlie from Tokyo, Japan

A cornered animal is a very dangerous thing. A dying animal not so much. Is this team cornered or dying? It's one or the other at this point.

Maybe we'll find out Monday night.

Kate from Ravena, NY

In terms of the playoff standings, would a tie in the Lions-Vikings game this week make it easier or harder for the Packers to climb back up and snag a playoff spot? Should we actually be rooting for a tie?

Here's what I believe to be the best scenario for the Packers to win the division: Lions beat Vikings, Vikings lose to Cowboys, Lions lose to Giants (or Saints) and Cowboys, Packers win two of their next three and then sweep all three division opponents in Weeks 15-17. A 9-7 record and 5-1 in the division would do it. I know those who have given up will call me crazy for even conceiving it, but if Aaron Rodgers is going to**talk about running the table**, I'm going to quote Lts. Sam Weinberg and Daniel Kaffee. "That's the plan?" "That's the plan."

Stephen from El Paso, TX

I just want to know what scenario if any would need to happen for us to make the playoffs as a wild card?

I think that would be even tougher than what's laid out above to win the division, based on where things currently stand. As I said earlier this week, if the Packers win these next two and get to 6-6, ask again.

Ryan from San Diego, CA

Insiders, to my understanding, Blake Martinez had the mic in his helmet on the field. Without him this week, who will assume that role?

If Ryan isn't able to come back this week, I could see Burnett or Matthews wearing it. They've done it before.

Kevin from Westport, WA

Hi guys, two weeks ago I got married and my in-laws had a surprise gift for me of a new truck. It was very similar to my old beater but it was in near-mint condition. Well, tonight just before getting home I was involved in an accident and was lucky to be OK. It got me thinking how there are so many more important things in life to be angry, frustrated, and concerned about than the Packers' D. I think I have achieved perspective tonight. I know what I'll be thankful for on Thursday.

Me, too. Glad you're OK.

Erik from Basehor, KS

If there were a draft for Thanksgiving foods, what would you take No. 1? What would be the top five?

For me, it's turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, gravy and cranberry (two sauces count as one pick), and pumpkin pie. No idea how to put together a BAF order, though.

Chris from Ashland, WI

What do you do when it's supper time and the grocery store is closed? All of McCarthy's prime rib, fresh veggies, and spices are gone and he is now trying to put together a meal with a can of creamed corn, some hot dogs, and a ramen noodle packet. It's not going to be that great but he needs to be given a break, he is doing what he can to make it work.

Somebody invite Chris to Thanksgiving dinner, please.

Alex from Madison, WI

Hey Insiders, tell us a story. Vic had so many, that I'm sure you have plenty of your own.

Every Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday, no matter where I'm watching football I remember 1980, Bears vs. Lions. I was 8 years old, at my grandma's house, watching the game on her little black-and-white TV, all by myself, not really cheering for either team (the Bears wouldn't come to my hometown of Platteville for another four years). The game went to overtime, and Chicago's Dave Williams returned the OT kickoff all the way for a TD, making NFL history in the process. It was one of the most exciting things I'd ever seen, and I ran out of grandma's TV den to tell my family what had happened, even though nobody really cared. That might have been the day I fell in love with watching football. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.