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How do the Packers keep this rolling? senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in his weekly chat.


Hey everybody. Hope the holidays were good. Let's get to it.

Comment From Don H

DET game will be the toughest of the "run the table" gauntlet, IMO. We simply must do a better job of pass coverage between the numbers​. It has been an issue for a long time. Highly confident we will get it done but when I see opposing QBs pass over the middle I quake a bit. Hope you had a Merry Christmas.

The pass defense in general will be challenged on the road on a fast indoor track. Stafford is having the best year of his career. The key will be to get some red-zone stops, like the Packers did early vs. the Vikings, and a turnover or two.

Comment From KK

Mike, I hope you had a Merry Christmas, It seems some of the troubles the defensive backfield has had is due to the lack of a consistent pass rush. What effect does an improving Mathews and Perry have?

It's a huge factor. The Packers have had big blind-side strip-sacks in each of the last two games. One of those on Stafford jump-started the comeback in the Hail Mary game last year, too.

Comment From tom

Matthews goes from totally ineffective to dominant, how?

Better health, better confidence that he can cut it loose without pain or risk of damage, fresh legs from having not played as much in recent weeks.

Comment From Vic



Comment From Scott Thomas

What has to happen this week to get a home playoff game?

Beat the Lions and the Packers are playing at home on wild-card weekend.

Comment From Nathan

Who is the most dangerous receiver on the Lions offense?

Tate and Jones have both had strong years. The Packers had more trouble with Jones, but that was way back in Week 3.

Comment From Chris

Hey Mike, Just a little playful ribbing: I found it funny that the same guy who, 2 months ago, said that Rodgers wouldn't be winning his 3rd MVP wrote an article about the possibility of Rodgers winning his 3rd MVP a few days ago.

You're right, I didn't think he'd be able to do enough to get back in the mix, but he has. I still think he's kind of a longshot, but he needs to at least be considered.

Comment From Luke

Is there anyone we might be getting back from injury this week?

Hopefully Cobb, though Allison certainly filled in admirably. No word yet on Gunter or Bulaga. We'll see if they're at practice tomorrow.

Comment From Luke

Do you think the Packers will try to run the ball this week, or is it going to be more of the Aaron Rodgers/Jordy Nelson show again?

It all depends on how the Lions play it. If they're keeping both safeties back, the Packers have to be able to run it. If they're going single high, the receivers have to win the one-on-ones to get open. That's how this offense is run, simplistically speaking.

Comment From Tom from da U.P.

Do we still win the division with a tie sunday?


Comment From Scott

Happy Holidays, Mike. The Vikings used 2 or 3 TEs (2 or 1 WRs) on 20 snaps in the game and the Packers only bothered playing base defense on 2 of those snaps. It is extremely rare for the Packers not to play base in those situations. Do you think the Packers just had that little respect for the Vikings' running game or was Capers really concerned about matching up in the passing game?

The Vikings are the league's worst rushing team, so that had a lot to do with it. The Packers also stopped Minnesota's running game that way back in Week 2, so there was no need to change unless you start getting gashed on the ground.

Comment From Tyler

What was different about the pass rush against seattle then the past two weeks? We were constantly in Rusell Wilson's face the whole game.I think the key to winning on Sunday night is be able to cause Stafford to throw off time.

That's definitely a key. The weak links for Seattle and Minnesota are their offensive lines. Detroit's is better, and they'll be playing at home, which takes away some of the defensive advantage on the pass rush.

Comment From Guest

How much closer are we to seeing Rodgers at 100%?

I saw barely any limitation in his game last Sunday, which stunned me, given how he looked six days earlier in Chicago.

Comment From Lori

How do you think the M and M run game will fare the Lions?

The Packers will need to get more out of it, and McCarthy said as much yesterday. The home team has the pass rush advantage, and the best antidote to the quick jump, pin the ears back stuff with a noisy crowd is to be able to run the ball.

Comment From Nick

Mike, I know it is all about taking care of business vs. the Lions, but as a fan it would be nice to see the packers havege a playoff spot locked up earlier in the day. Any chance McCarthy calls his buddy McAdoo and gets him at least thinking about playing his starters? Family and friends is what life is about :)

I don't think there will be any conversations between the two, but I'd be surprised if McAdoo doesn't play to win. I mentioned in Insider Inbox this morning, I don't think the Giants want to go into the postseason on a two-game losing streak, and most teams like to keep their division rivals out of the playoffs if they can.

Comment From Timmy D.

There is a part of me that absolutely loves the intensity of a potential win and in, or lose and you're season is over match-up Sunday night, but another part of me is hoping that the Redskins lose to guarantee us a spot no matter the outcome. What do you hope for?

I think you'd love to be in the playoffs before kickoff, but that's not going to change the players' motivation to win, in my mind. You're prepping for it as a do-or-die game. You don't turn that switch off.

Comment From Dennis

If both Seattle and Atlanta lose can the Packers move to #2 seed?

No. The Packers can't get the 2 seed from Atlanta because of the head-to-head loss. If Packers make the playoffs, they will be either the 3, 4 or 6.

Comment From Paul

Mike, do you feel that GB starting this week against Det and any other team they may face if they make playoffs will need multiple takeawys resulting in pts to win?

It's a heck of a formula. The way GB's offense is playing right now, they might be able to just outscore anybody. But you can also win without turnovers by getting stops in the red zone. Trading TDs for FGs works, too.

Comment From Lori

What has to happen for both the Pack and the Lions to get into the playoffs?

Redskins lose and Buccaneers lose gets Packers and Lions both in. If Redskins win, they're in and loser of Packers-Lions is out. If Redskins lose and Bucs win, it comes down to tiebreakers between Packers-Lions loser and Bucs. I don't know where that stands with Detroit, but Packers are in good shape there vs. TB. Not clinched, but with an edge.

(Update: During the chat, the NFL updated the playoff scenarios, and the Packers will have clinched strength-of-victory over the Bucs if the Giants beat the Redskins. So, Packers and Lions are both in if Redskins lose.)

Comment From KD

If Gunter can't go who fills in for him? Dorleant?

The Packers would go with Randall, Rollins and Hyde in the nickel. For the dime, they've been adding an extra safety, Brice, more often than a fourth corner, but Dorleant would be an option as well.

Comment From Luke

Who is the strongest AFC contender in your opinion?

To beat the Patriots? It's obviously Pittsburgh, in the wake of that unfortunate injury to Carr in Oakland.

Comment From Tom from da U.P.

Could we see gb and det turn around and face of in a wild card game?

Could happen, yes.

Comment From Chris

What do you think of Nelson's performance on Saturday? It appears the biggest change from earlier in the season his ability to accelerate after the catch. The routes look the same, the YAC seems to improve every game.

I would agree, but his explosion when needed is there now, too. He showed that on that final play in Chicago.

Comment From Lori

How do the interest and huge implications of the game against the Lions affect you? Is interest way up on Is there more pressure on the writing team?

I don't look at it as pressure. I do my job the best I can regardless, but the traffic on the website is definitely up during the current winning streak. That was to be expected. It's always more fun when you see people are more interested in what you have to say.

Comment From cottsb

Any word that Randall's groin injury has an effect on his ability to drive into tackles somehow? If that is the reason he is avoiding contact?

The current shoulder injury is probably more the issue there.

Comment From Steve

What is a playoff game worth economically to the city of Green Bay ???

A home one, millions. Home games are a major lifeline to the economy here.

Comment From Ross

Hi Mike - Was nice to see Clay look healthier on Saturday. We need more of a consistent pass rush to take pressure off our secondary, don't you think?

Either consistent pass rush, or a game-changing play or two.

Comment From Jake

I for one was not surprised to see both of last year's super bowl teams miss the playoffs this year. They didn't seem built to last. Were you surprised?

Denver is not a surprise when you're changing QBs to someone so young and inexperienced. Carolina was a surprise, because they still had the league MVP at QB and lost basically one player on defense (Norman). It's never easy in this league.

Comment From Nick

Mike what are your thoughts on the whole Zimmer/ cornerbacks going against him on Saturday story?

The Vikings have a long offseason to figure it out. Comment From Luke

Cobb vs. Hyde vs. Davis. If you were head coach, who would you want returning punts?

I'd go with Hyde at this point. I know he muffed that one last week, but he made a couple of moves that were pretty sharp on one return, and even if Cobb plays, I don't think his ankle will be full strength. Davis has been on the sidelines for a long time, now. Putting him back there would be an unnecessary risk, IMO.

Comment From Matthew

Mike, I was impressed with Adam Thielen's play. His body language really reminds me of Jordy Nelson.

Thielen is a great story. Minnesota State, undrafted, having the season he's having now. You can't help but be impressed.

Comment From KD

I think it's fair to say you were right about the Colts loss being one to come back and haunt us. If not for that loss, the Packers would already be in.

If you aren't where you hoped to be, usually there's a home game you know you shouldn't have let get away. But hopefully the Packers will make that a moot point on Sunday night. Comment From Randy

Do you think Staffords hand injury is affecting him?

I have to admit, I didn't watch the Dallas-Detroit game last night and have yet to watch the highlights today, but I can't imagine it's easy to deal with that finger injury. The more time that goes by, though, I'm sure the better it feels.

Comment From Stephen

McCarthy's press conference response about how he treats his players is something the doubters should watch. Players never have to worry about wins and losses, only about doing their job and Mike seemed very clear that he'd never blow smoke up their you-know-whats and the player would know exactly what their job is or where they need to improve to get on the 46. Is that McCarthy's strength as a Head Coach, or something else?

One of McCarthy's strengths is he keeps it real for his players. Like he said yesterday, you never get too far away from "this is what we did well, this is what we need to do better, and this is how we're going to do it."

Comment From Tom

Who do you see stepping up to have a big game this week? I see Adams and/or Dix poised to make major impacts this week.

I can definitely see HHCD wanting to make up for the bad play vs. Minnesota. On the other side, I want to see how Detroit's secondary matches up with GB. Does Slay play? Will he shadow Jordy? Lots to watch for.

Comment From JimBob

The Lions have only won one game all year against a team with a winning record (Washington, at 8-6-1). The other four teams they've faced with winning records (Packers, Texans, Giants, Cowboys) have all beaten the Lions. Are the Lions not as good as their record would indicate?

I think they're good and not reading too much into that. Their biggest strength has been fourth-quarter comebacks. They've gotten it done with the game on the line more often than not. Some might say the law of averages will catch up to you if you keep living on the edge like that, but teams like that also always believe they're going to win.

Comment From Hans

Two day rest differential for these two teams going into SNF. Is that a big deal ??

It could be, but it's not as big from a preparation standpoint because it's a division opponent. It's more from the physical recovery, but also Detroit played on Thanksgiving and got a mini-bye that weekend fairly recently, whereas the Packers had their regular bye and Thursday games very early this season.

Comment From Bernie

Sup Big Mike! The Packers are on a win streak. It troubles me when I think about the Packers going to the Super Bowl. Can they really go all the way undefeated? What is the mentality these players have to work with? Thanks!

The mentality is to keep winning, one at a time. When things were going bad, they felt if they just got one win, it could get them on a roll, and that's happened, so you keep going about it the same way.

Comment From David

Were you surprised to see Geronimo Allison get so many offensive snaps? What impresses you the most about him?

What impressed me Saturday was he made plays in different ways. He made a big play when left wide open, which anyone can do, but he also made a diving catch over the middle on third down, and he got open for Rodgers on a scramble drill. The varied impact was a good sign.

Comment From Chris

Mike, do you get the sense the Packers are becoming a matchup nightmare offensively? It seems like every week we have a different guy have a huge game. The Packers aren't taking what they want. They are successfully taking whatever the defense is giving them.

That's when this offense is at its best, and Rodgers is a master at getting the offense into the best possible play based on the defensive look.

Comment From Guest

I see the #1 key to beating the Lions is pressuring Stafford. He's good but does throw it to the other guys at times when he gets pressured.

That he does. Any QB is different under steady pressure, but it's harder to get steady pressure as the road team.

Comment From Ryan

What would need to happen for the Packers to get the #3 seed? Thanks Mike.

Beat the Lions and have the 49ers beat the Seahawks.

Comment From Randy

Two years in a row being flexed for the final game. Great to see the Packers in the big games in December. As a writer you have to love it as well.

This is the 5th straight year the Week 17 game has had significant stakes. In '12, Packers were playing for a bye and Vikes were trying to get in. '13, '14, '15 and now this year, the division title has been on the line. It's a blast.

Comment From John

Did the players/coaches watch the DET/DAL game last night? Or do they wait to watch the tape?

They watch both, a lot of them.

Comment From Lee

Looks like Rodgers can see things in slow motion now, are his receivers just got open more?

I thought Rodgers' comment after Saturday's game about being in a "different headspace" and everything playing out in his mind more slowly was interesting. Some games, everything clicks, and it's been clicking for him for several weeks now.

Comment From Ronski

Do you think Allison will play more than Cobb this week?

It's going to depend on Cobb's health, and if the Packers see a matchup with Allison they want to go after.

OK, I've gotta go soon, but I'll take a few more.

Comment From Matt

I can't stop watching Rodgers' TD run before the end of the half against Minn. He sprinted for about 40 yards. Goosebumps.

I didn't have room for it in my WYMM segment, but Nelson's little arm hook on Rhodes at the goal line really helped Rodgers get in there. Right after, Rhodes was sprawled on the ground looking at the official.

Comment From Bernie

Who are the "look out" teams in the NFC playoffs?

If the Packers get in, they'd be one. The Cowboys are the Cowboys. The Falcons also look pretty dangerous to me.

Comment From Tony C

8:30 p.m. EST is a long time to wait on Sunday .... it will be a long day in the weight room leading up to it to pass the time and take the edge off .... Then, let's play. Let's win ....

Sounds like a good last word for today. Thanks for the participation, as always. Happy New Year everybody. Take care, Mike

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