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How will the Packers' run game stack up against playoff teams?

Senior writer Mike Spofford took questions in his weekly chat


Hi everybody. Sorry I'm a minute or two late ... let's get started.

Comment From Tony

Mike, thanks for the chat. Your thoughts on the Mike Daniels signing?

It was the top priority among the pending free agents, and to get the top priority taken care of before the offseason is a good thing. Daniels is always highly motivated, even if he has to manufacture the motivation. He's a fun guy to talk to, also.

Comment From Krys

Khalil Mack has to be contained, right? I can't see allowing 5 sacks on Rodgers and still winning the game.

I think that's obvious. I remember Rodgers being sacked five times at Lambeau by Cincinnati's Antwan Odom back in 2009. It was not a recipe for victory.

Comment From Dave

What sorts of problems will the Raiders present?

*Other than Mack, there's Woodson lurking in the secondary for a turnover. I'm sure he would love to intercept Rodgers before his career is over, just as he mentioned earlier this season about Peyton Manning and then came through. Carr and Cooper form a young QB-WR duo that will have to be dealt with.      *

Comment From Dylan

Who's the next top priority to sign?

Not sure. I wasn't expecting to be looking at anyone other than Daniels until the offseason, because the recent track record here (Shields, Cobb, Bulaga) was not getting contracts done during the season. Now, that's changed. I think a final decision on that last year of Peppers' deal will determine the next defensive priority(ies).

Comment From Zach

Mike, as you put together the WYMM for the week and saw the play of the line. Did Tretter stand out at all? Just watching the game live, it seemed his athletic ability allowed him to easily get to the 2nd level, and use his body and body position to wall off defenders. Not saying he'll take anyone's job, but he seems to be the best OL athlete.

He is a heck of an athlete for a big guy up front, and if the Packers have a problem at center down the road between Linsley and Tretter, that's a good problem.

Comment From JoeBnKY

Any word on when Montgomory could come back?

He appeared to be as close as he's been last week. Unless he had a setback we're not aware of, maybe this is the week.

Comment From Tony

How do you explain 200 rushing yards against Dallas? Did the OL execute better, did the RBs find the holes better or was it a combination of both?

I think the line was healthier than it had been in a while. Everyone, backs included, benefited from the 10-day break between games. They also stayed committed to it and had the lead. Half of the 230 rushing yards came in the fourth quarter. That's a huge factor.

Comment From Tom 

With MM calling the plays, it appeared that the play calling was quicker. Any data to support this?

It did seem the snaps were coming with more time left on the play clock. I thought Rodgers comment about not having as many plays with checks in them was interesting. That also leads to higher tempo, because he's not doing as much surveying at the line. They're running what's called, and they can get up and snap it faster.

Comment From KK 

Mike, What kind of challenges do you think traveling cross country the next 2 weeks presents?

For the players, it's just using Monday and Tuesday to rest that much more after a long trip. For me, I'm just glad neither game is at night. We'll be getting back late enough as it is.

Comment From Dave 

Given Janis ability to make returns, wouldn't it make sense to give him a shot at returning punts?

Punt return and kickoff return are two completely different skills. I would want to see a guy, any guy, practice punt returns for an entire training camp and preseason before handing him that job.

Comment From Evan 

Hey Mike. December is all about getting hot. A game-winning Hail Mary followed by 200 rushing yards against a pretty good Dallas defense is a pretty good way to get started, wouldn't you say?

I was impressed the way the Packers moved the ball in the first half against a pretty solid Dallas D. They were coming off a short week, back to back road trip. That may have been a factor, who knows.

Comment From Jeff 

Aaron Rodgers didn't sound very excited after the game about the new run the ball, play good defense identity the Packers are developing. But I think he acknowledged the run game is the best chance to win. Agree?

He knows that. But he also knows that having only one receiver with more than 50 yards in catches isn't the best formula.

Comment From Cody 

Mike, The Packers seem rejuvenated and appear to be getting hot. Do you think it's a little too early or is this the perfect time?

No such thing as too early when it's December. The No. 2 seed and a bye is still in play. Go for it.

Comment From Brett 

Is this the best defense the Packers have had since the 2010 run? They seem to be getting back to the level they played at for the first 3 1/2 quarters in Seattle last year. I think you could argue it's officially the strength of the team.

I think it is right now. If it's not in January, that could be a good thing, if you know what I mean.

Comment From Harrison 

Anything unique about O.Co. Coliseum, from the perspective of fans, press, or team, that you can share?

I've heard it's not great, which isn't surprising given its age. It's the last stadium currently in use in the NFL I haven't visited, so it's the last one to cross off my list. Packers haven't played out there since the Favre Monday nighter in 2003, the night after Irv died.

Comment From Walt 

Seems a lot of fans are getting overly excited by the run game. How does that stack up in the playoffs against big scoring teams like Carolina and AZ?

When you can run the ball in the playoffs, you can control time of possession and limit the scoring opportunities for the opponent. It's a heck of a defense against a high-scoring offense.

Comment From Lee 

I think D. Randall should be considered for Rookie of the Year, or does it only for players who got sacks and INTs only?

He probably doesn't have the stats for it. That doesn't mean he shouldn't be considered, but winning it would seem unlikely. Three years ago, Casey Hayward had six INTs as a rookie and only got third in the voting.

Comment From Tony 

The Seahawks have climbed out of their early hole and are hot. It would seem they are headed to the playoffs, too.

Yes, yes they are.

Comment From Victor 

Are you excited to see Woodson play live again?

Yeah, he's always been one of my favorites. It was a privilege watching him from the press box for those years in GB. You don't get to see a DB that well on TV.

Comment From Marin 

Hi Mike, Eddie Lacy's benching seemed to be all it took to re-light his fire.

He admitted as much.

Comment From Ray 

Shouldn't the Packers have played in Oakland in '03, Lambeau '07, Oakland '11, and Lambeau '15? What happened to flip things around?

*There was a small change in the scheduling formula between '07 and '11 that had Oakland come here in both of those years. The Packers also visited KC in both of those years. It was a switch regarding the AFC West and the pairings.             *

Comment From Michael From Chicago 

Did it seem like Randall Cobb was more comfortable during the game with McCarthy ....idk why but he seemed to finally be making the catches on the broken plays that we saw him and Rodgers be so good on last year do you have a opinion on why

There seemed to be some different and more creative ways for getting Cobb in space and getting him the ball. McCarthy clearly wants to feature him.

Comment From Al 

Hi Mike, thanks for the chat. How will the Packers diminished offensive line look to slow down Khalil Mack?

They just rushed for 230 and you're calling the line diminished? I haven't seen Oakland much, but it sounds like Mack will rush from anywhere, so they have to be prepared for wherever he might line up, or go on a stunt, etc.

Comment From John 

I agree with the players, not plays side of the argument, but it seems that when MM was calling the plays, the offense had a much better Rhythm. Do you that speaks to the level of expertise and experience between MM and TC?

Like I said, to me, it speaks to a more definitive plan. Rodgers saying he got fewer calls with checks in them told me a lot.

Comment From Jeff 

Do you think the Packers will take some deep shots this week?

Oakland is 28th in the league against the pass, so yes, I think that invites some shots. I would suspect Rodgers will be using his eyes to try to deceive Woodson back there.

Comment From Michael 

Richard Rodgers has been playing great recently, but, any word on Quarless, just curious.

Haven't heard anything, though I believe this is Week 3 of the three-week window the Packers have to make a decision to either activate him or keep him on IR the rest of the year.

Comment From Randall 

Any consideration by the Packers to travel to Phoenix after the Oakland game and save the commute?

*McCarthy was asked that earlier this year, actually, and he said it wasn't a consideration because of Christmas in between the two games.            *

Comment From "Rogers that" 

Hi Mike, In the worst Scenario for the Pack to make the playoff, even as wild card, do they need to win at least one of the last three games?

The Packers could get in at 9-7 depending on what happens with other teams, but 10 wins guarantees a spot, whether it's wild card or division winner.

Comment From Adam 

Does lacy still have a chance to rush for 1,000 yards this year!

Yeah, he does. He needs about 350 in the last three games, which is do-able. I've often felt 1,200 yards is a better measuring stick, because that's 75 yards per game for 16 games. I like the easier math.

Comment From PDT 

More of Kuhn and less R. Rodgers this past week. Was that due to the fact that the game plan called for a heavy run emphasis? Is Kuhn a better blocker than Rodgers and/or does Lacy run better with a fullback?

*I think all of what you said might have factored in.         *

Comment From Ken from Plano TX 

How is Sam Shields?

Lots of folks asking about Shields. No update at this point. We'll see if he's on the practice field tomorrow.

Comment From Ella 

Any big Christmas plans for the Spofford family? Will you have to work on Christmas?

Don't have the schedule yet, so I can't say for sure. I have a very patient and understanding family.

Comment From "Rogers that" 

Thanks Mike, A win this week puts us in the playoffs then?

Yes. 10 wins became the magic number in the NFC once Atlanta and Tampa Bay got their seventh losses on Sunday.

Comment From joe 

is this matchup versus the raiders one of those games in which the packers can and will win if they just don't give the game away? or do you think the raiders have more talent than their record would indicate?

This will be a tough game. The Raiders just beat a Broncos team everyone thought had found a new QB and was headed to the promised land. They only had 127 yards of total offense or something like that, but they won that game on the road. Huge win, and they're still fighting for everything they can get. Packers will have their hands full, start to finish.

Comment From Andy 

You mentioned that the Raiders are 28th against the pass. What is their ranking against the run?

*12th in yards per game, 19th in yards per carry *

Comment From Ray 

Do you think Daniels' contract might give guys like Raji extra motivation down the stretch this season?

I think any player in the final year of a current deal should be plenty self-motivated.

Comment From Al 

Thanks for your time Mike. Although this upcoming game is in Oakland, could you see it being one of those once or twice a season "Aaron Rodgers" games throwing 4-5 touchdowns and over 400 yards?

If you're looking for the fantasy tip of the week, I'm not your guy. I think Rodgers is capable of that any week.

Comment From Dylan 

If we win the next 3 I'm not sure if I'd rather cheer for Sea or Ari in their week 17 matchup. It'd kinda be nice for the pack to get the 3rd seed and keep rolling the next week.

Call me old-fashioned, but I'd rather take the bye week and home game in the divisional round any day.

Comment From Joe 

If you watched the Oakland game it was a gift.

*I was only following the score during the Packers game, and all I kept hearing about was Mack getting another sack. I don't know if I've ever heard of a team having negative total yards on offense in the first half and then winning the game. Amazing.      *

Comment From Linda P 

Mike, I've seen comments that the Vikings are not likely to make the playoffs..they're not any god blah blah. I think they are plenty good and dangerous. Do you think our division is likely coming down to that last game?

Yes, I do. I thought the Vikings were impressive last Thursday. Coming back down 10 in the fourth quarter on the road against that Arizona team? That was something, and on a short week with the long trip. The Vikings aren't going away. I expect them to take advantage of the 10-day break now before they play the Bears on Sunday and they'll be back on track. If they can't beat the Bears at home, I'll stand corrected.

Comment From markus 

Vic mentioned how great it would be to have Starr, Favre and Rodgers pictured together standing on the 50 yard line. Did that happen?  

*My understanding was a picture was taken, but I do not believe it was at the 50-yard line.        *

Comment From Bill from Staten Island 

Nice job on WYMM again Mike. I especially liked your observation of Rodgers pushing Cobb further from the line. A GREAT example of how intelligent he is!

Thanks. I only noticed it because the guy he was moving away from the box was Lee, and then they ran the ball to that side.

Comment From joe 

thanks for the chat, mike! has reggie mckenzie gotten the raiders out of the cap mess he inherited as gm?

He seems to have. I'm not up on all their cap details, but he appears to have gotten them out of cap jail, as Vic would say.

Comment From Bill from Staten Island 

Question, do you and Vic have much interaction with the beat writers from ESPN, The Journal-Sentinel, or other media outlets?

I see and talk to them every day. I've known most of them since long before I started working here.

Comment From Chris 

Since the Packers play the Raiders this weekend, could you please share with us your best memories of Charles Woodson? He is one of my all-time favorite Packers.

I don't know if you ever saw or purchased the Super Bowl XLV book the organization published, called "One," but I worked on the foreward with Charles, which was all about his post-NFC title game speech in the locker room at Soldier Field (and hence the book title). It was a neat conversation, and a collaboration and memory I'll always cherish.

Comment From Jason 

Hi Mike. Is there a way to know from what player was active or not on game days? I can't seem to find this information on here.

We publish the gameday inactives in the blog as soon as they're announced, 90 minutes before kickoff. If you go to the blog and scroll through until you find the pre-game content, it'll be there.

Comment From Mike 

C'mon Mike, everyone knows that you're old-fashioned based on your wardrobe choices. Truth?

You've probably got me there.

Comment From John G 

The 3 major changes I noticed with McCarthy calling plays were, 1 - Plays getting in faster, 2 - Committment to the running game, 3 - Used Cobb as the primary target in the passing game. Finding creative ways to get him open. What differences did you notice about the McCarthy led offense?

*All those are valid points. As other posters have pointed out, Kuhn saw the field a lot more. What we don't know is how much of that was McCarthy and how much was game-plan specific for the Cowboys, and there's no reason for anyone to tell us, you know?    *

Comment From Jay 

Does your wife ever point to the dishes and explain what YOU might have missed?

*Got me again.  *

Comment From Susie 

NFL Network is playing Oakland game right now. Rodgers always talks about not understanding Mike sometimes. Is he serious or trying to be funny? I don't notice anything when I listen to him but maybe the speakers in helmet, noise, etc. make a difference???

I've never put on a helmet and heard what that speaker sounds like. In any event, I thought Rodgers' comment was pretty funny.

Comment From Andy 

If we were to beat Minnesota in week 17 and face them the following week in the playoffs, who has the edge--the Packers playing at home or the Vikings who would be trying to avoid a 3rd loss to us in the same season?

I think it's tough to beat a team three times. The Packers found that out against the Vikes in '04. I think it depends on health of the teams coming in, too.

Comment From JoeBnKY 

Who is the Packers Staff member in the Pic with Hyde, Hitchens, and Danials from the game?

I believe that's David Raih, a coaching administrator here. He was a graduate assistant at Iowa, I think, when those guys played for the Hawkeyes.

Comment From Grover 

Have you ever tried the wine of Charley Woodson?

No. I'm not a wine drinker, and I can buy a lot of beer for the prices he's charging.

Comment From Ben 

"Old-Man Woodson" seems like another player who has found the fountain of youth. It's impressive he's played at such a high level for so long.      

No question.

Comment From John G 

Vic doesn't like to talk about play calling much. Its not necessarily as much about play calling as it is about the play design and how the plays are ran off of each other. There is an art to it and McCarthy is like an artist while doing it. What is your thoughts on the play calling debate?

I think there's a lot of truth to your artist comment, but I don't know the ins and outs of the game well enough to really understand that. Just being honest.

Comment From "Rodgers that" 

Mike, is there any word of the game against the Vikings time being changed to 3:25 CT?

Nothing yet. The league makes all the flex decisions for Week 17, usually, after the Week 16 games are done and they can see the full playoff landscape. It's the only week they're allowed to make changes less than two weeks in advance.

Comment From Adam 

What needs to happen for the Packers to get #2 seed?

Win out and have Arizona lose to either Philly or Seattle.

Comment From Shannon 

One of the unsung heroes of Sunday's game was the field crew. Despite all of the rain the field looked GREAT. Is there something that is unique to what the Packers do to have such a great field in the most extreme conditions in the NFL?

Our field manager, Allen Johnson, could give you a dissertation on that. He and his crew are really good at what they do. The short version I know is the sand base underneath the grass drains the water away very, very quickly, and the synthetic stitching that's part of the DD GrassMaster surface holds everything together on top of the sand base so it doesn't rip out in big chunks in bad conditions. Hope that helps.

Comment From PDT 

I think the Packers match-up against the Vikings very well. The Packers defense is good enough to force the Vikings to be one dimensional. Take away Peterson and allow our front to put pressure on a sub standard OL.

The Packers did that once. Can they do it a second, or possibly a third, time? No guarantees there. OK, I've gone an hour. A few more.

Comment From joe 

do you think it's a "good idea" for this packers' team to lose a december game while qualifying for the playoffs... in order to not "need" a 6-to-8-game winning streak in order to win the championship?

I've never understood why someone would think that way.

Comment From Chris 

I attended the Packers-Raiders game in 2003. I took some great pictures of Favre and the Packers from the end zone with my telephoto lens. It was an unbelievable night. The Raiders fans were great. My dad and sons were with me and they were 82, 10 and 15 at the time. The next Packers game the four of us attended together was Super Bowl 45 in 2011. Great bookends and great memories.

I remember watching the '03 game in Oakland on TV at my in-laws and just being astonished at it all.

Comment From Jake 

How creative is Oakland with Khalil Mack? Was his monster performance due in part to one linemen having a really bad game?

As I said before, I haven't watched Oakland a ton, but it would seem they'll find a matchup for Mack they like, and go after it.

Comment From rondo 

hey mike! thanks for doing this- i find it interesting that so many people are excited about mccarthy calling the plays when last year after the seattle game they wrote him off. oh how the tides have turned! either way, i'm stoked about it. anyway, GO PACK

An interesting thought to end the day. Thanks everyone for all the participation. Have a great week and take care. --Mike

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