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Inbox: Any reminder should never be brushed aside

Only the numbers tell us what’s possible and impossible

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C/G Josh Myers

Geoffrey from North Osman, WI

Reflection is good for the soul.

I know when we resumed posting new content Wednesday afternoon, things were not on their normal schedule, but I hope everyone got a chance to read Wes's reflections regarding Coach LaFleur's words and the horror of Monday night. It's been a week to pause, ponder and pursue perspective. I've certainly tried. Hearing from the players and how they're processing all this was meaningful for me.

Ann from Whittier, CA

Watching Damar Hamlim on MNF got me shook. So shook that I had trouble sleeping. Can you please share how the Packers team is doing? Are they going to be mentally able to play Week 18?

I did my best to address all that right here.

Michael from Blue Island, IL

Damar Hamlin is a very lucky man. Commotio cordis is a hit to the chest over the heart, at the precise instant the electrical stimulus is contracting the heart muscle. If CPR is not started within three minutes the survival rate is around 3%. Less than 30% even with immediate care. My son Matthew was the first recorded football death due to commotio cordis, on 9/11/2002. It was merely a tackling walk-thru drill. He got up, walked a few steps and went down. God watch over Damar.

I'm incredibly sorry for your loss, and I can't imagine your emotions then, since, or this week, and hearing references in our common vernacular to that month and day must only make it more difficult. Thank you for writing in, and may God bring any level of peace he can to you and yours.

Brian from Menominee, MI

Damar Hamlin's incident hit close to home for me and my family. In 2016 (at age 32) while attending a youth football game, I went into sudden cardiac arrest and was given CPR for nine minutes and brought back with an AED. Soon after my family started an organization called Save a Heart and we've donated nearly 30 AEDs to local sports complexes and businesses, and certified hundreds of people in CPR and First Aid. My family and I are doing great, and we urge anyone that is willing and able to learn CPR.

A worthwhile message for sure. The medical personnel on hand in Cincinnati did some incredible work.

Corinne from Omaha, NE

Gentlemen, I appreciate your Wednesday II response to Damar's hospitalization. As a fan, I'm struggling with how I feel. I'm excited to root for the Packers in a win-or-go-home game on Sunday Night Football against a divisional opponent. But at the same time, watching any games at all this week seems disrespectful to Damar, his family and friends, the Bills, and all of Buffalo. How do you recommend we approach this weekend as fans, regarding both the Packer game and the Week 18 as a whole?

Having just responded to Michael's note above, I hope it's not out of line to say I don't believe it's disrespectful to continue watching and enjoying games. Commotio cordis has occurred in baseball and hockey, too, most often at the youth level. Regarding the physical risks and sacrifices these football players make, any reminder should never be brushed aside. If an adjusted or enhanced fan perspective emerges and stays with everyone, we're all better for it.

Bill from Fort Worth, TX

What an unfortunate way to remind those who forget that these are people out on the field. Now we just need Fox to drop the robot football player when they come back from the commercial breaks, to stop propagating the idea these athletes are super- or non-human.

I wouldn't mind that change at all.

Linda from Lake Park, FL

Do the Packers practice outside or inside in preparation for home games like this week with the Lions when the evening temperatures are expected to be in the mid-20s?

They practice outside whenever the conditions allow, and by conditions I don't mean temperature. If it's crazy windy, or rainy, and they can't conduct a quality practice outside, they'll stay in the Hutson Center. But otherwise they're practicing in the elements.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

I never cheer for the Packers to lose just to get a higher draft pick, even during bad years. But I admit when we were 4-8 I had all but given up on playoffs and had more than a passing interest in teams with similar records. I hoped those teams would win just so we stayed in the top 10 pick range. No matter what happens Sunday night, this season has been fun to watch. Isn't it amazing how things unfolded? I seem to recall someone telling me this is a week-to-week league.

As I mentioned in my postgame editorial the other night, when the Packers were 4-8, the Commanders were 7-5, the Seahawks were 6-5, and the so-called magic number was to get them both to eight losses. The Giants were also 7-4 and the Lions were coming on strong. The picture taking shape showed five teams fighting for two spots, and the Packers, with head-to-head losses to Washington and New York and a chance to only even the season series vs. Detroit, appeared to be the least likely to land one of them. A month later, the Giants are in, the Commanders are out, and the Packers are in the best position of the remaining three. Only the numbers tell us what's possible and impossible in this crazy league.

The Green Bay Packers held practice inside the Don Hutson Center on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.

Wayne from Stevens Point, WI

THAT was a fun game. When do we start calling him "First Down Allen"? My second question is: How many of Allen's catches go for a first down or TD?

According to my research (which could be wrong), of Allen Lazard's 56 receptions this season, 42 have produced a first down (37) or touchdown (5). That seems pretty impressive to me.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Hi Mike, I know discussing the officiating is getting redundant, however, what did you think of Dan from Wausau's question on Justin Jefferson hitting the official with his helmet? I don't think he meant to do it, but it looked to me he took the helmet off on the field of play...and he DID hit him. At least a penalty? If not fine/suspension. On another note, what was your take on Quay Walker's unnecessary roughness call? I thought it looked bad but what else can he do in that situation?

Jefferson was lucky he wasn't flagged and/or fined, but I don't think a clearly unintentional act like that deserved a suspension. Walker's penalty was unfortunate because it appeared Ford and Walker being in on the tackle together put Osborn's body in an awkward position, so the finish became the definition of "unnecessary roughness" by accident.

Joel from Paris, KY

Interesting to hear coaches talk about everyone staying assignment sure. Then on the Keisean Nixon TD return, you see Viking No. 83 bleed over to the right and completely remove himself from his intended lane and opening up the middle for the return. Thanks for the videos to see examples of what coaches are talking about. Hate to be him Monday.

Lane integrity isn't just a coaching buzz-phrase.

Casey from Madison, WI

Hello Insiders, have the Packers had to beat the Lions on the last game of the regular season to make the playoffs in the past? If so, how many times has it happened and what was the date of the most recent occurrence?

Not that I can recall, though there have been some high-stakes games in the last decade. In 2014, both Green Bay and Detroit were in the playoffs, and the winner would take the NFC North and first-round bye, with the loser relegated to a wild card. In 2016, it was looking like a win-to-get-in game, but when Washington lost prior to the kickoff in Detroit, both teams were in so "only" the division title and seeding were on the line. In 2019, the Lions were out but the Packers needed a win to secure a first-round bye and got it with a fourth-quarter comeback and walk-off field goal. The Packers lost finales to the Lions in both '93 and '82 but still made the playoffs both years, getting a rematch with the Lions the following week in '93 and winning it on the across-the-field Favre-to-Sharpe TD. Back in 1939, a win over the Lions in the finale gave the Packers the Western Division crown at 9-2, one game ahead of the Bears at 8-3, and Green Bay went on to win the NFL championship a week later over the Giants. I checked with Cliff and confirmed if the Packers had lost that game to the Lions, Green Bay and Chicago would have staged a division playoff (like they did in '41) to determine who advanced to the league title game.

Dan from Parker, CO

I'm confused about Seattle's record. I know if we beat the Lions we're in. But for today, why does Seattle currently hold the seventh playoff spot? We're both 8-8, we have a better conference record, but the standings are showing Seattle currently holding the seventh spot?

I think that's only because, based on current results on record, head-to-head matchups show Seattle with a win over Detroit and Detroit with a win over Green Bay. But it's irrelevant because we all know what the scenario is.

Jon from Minneapolis, MN

What happens if we lose this week? Do the Lions make the playoffs if we lose?

Only if the Seahawks also lose. A Seahawks win coupled with a Lions win puts Seattle in. A full Path to the Playoffs rundown will be posted later today.

James from Austin, TX

So, if the Packers win, they knock out the Lions AND the Seahawks? I know... 10-yard penalty for holding a grudge into another new year!

Declined.

Bob from Corpus Christi, TX

The last game and a half have shown that man-to-man and at the line of scrimmage is best for GB defense where it seemed obvious to players and most fans. What was DC seeing that took him so long to make the change?

The Packers haven't just lined up in man coverage the last game and a half. All three INTs in Miami and one vs. Minnesota were zone coverages. They're playing more man than previously, which is providing a better mix. Against Jefferson, Alexander would randomly charge the line of scrimmage before some snaps and jam him, but even some of those were on zone calls. They've been able to disguise coverages better, too, and change up their blitzing patterns and tendencies as well. The overall mix is better, the communication is better and the execution is better.

Ryan from Montreal, Canada

Hello Insiders, first time writing in, longtime reader. I am very surprised that the league would put the Packers-Lions game at night when the results of the Seahawks game could influence how Detroit plays. Your thoughts.

I was surprised as well. I expected SNF only if Green Bay vs. Detroit was for certain win-to-get-in for both, which it would've been had the Seahawks lost last Sunday. To my knowledge, it's the first time since the league went to the all-flex final week that it has intentionally created a competitive imbalance, rather than playing strongly interdependent games at the same time. Lord knows I have no love lost for the Seahawks, but I think it sets a poor precedent, saying TV ratings matter more than competitive fairness, with the latter something the league has taken pride in that helped build the game into what it is today. That said, I expect the Lions to give everything they have to beat the Packers whether they're playing for a playoff spot or not. But there are things I question. If the Lions are eliminated and a major player suffers a minor injury, will the decisions about returning to the game or not be affected? Would any situational, strategic calls be impacted if they have nothing versus everything to lose (or gain)? Those are the things I wonder about.

Brian from Trego, WI

I love the fact that our D-line manhandled the Vikings' O-line but temper that enthusiasm with the knowledge they were playing with a guy who's never played center and two other subs. I guess we'll see if they can have the same success against the Lions' O-line who are considered the second best in the league?

This will be a completely different matchup in the trenches. Detroit's offensive line has been tough for any team to handle. The last defense to hold the Lions under 20 points was the Packers back in Week 9, and Detroit has scored 31 or more points five times since then. They can grind out tough yards and protect Goff, and throwing them off their game won't be easy.

Bruce from Appleton, WI

What will the Packers' defense have to do to shut down the Lions' offense?

Not to discount their power run game, but I think in the end it'll mostly come down to disrupting Goff. As I mentioned Monday, he's on a roll and they like to come out throwing to get him in rhythm. Four of his last five games he's posted a 110-plus passer rating. He hasn't thrown an INT since Week 9 vs. Green Bay. He was sacked five times by Dallas back in Week 7, but just 17 times in the other 15 games. The Packers can't let him settle in.

Elliot from Oak Creek, WI

Obviously Christian Watson didn't keep up the scoring barrage he was on a few weeks ago. We see the snippets of him throwing a good block here and there and occasionally him pulling coverage to him, but does the attention paid get seen more often than that on film? It's hard to tell for us just watching on TV.

There's pre-snap attention, in terms of the defense's alignment and adjustments to motion, as well as post-snap attention as defenders react to route combinations, and Watson commands both at different times. I wouldn't say defenses are compromising themselves, but they're playing the Packers differently and I think the offense is still adjusting to attacking some of those looks.

Tyler from Stetsonville, WI

What was once a pipedream is now on the precipice of reality. Everything this team has needed to have happen has happened, save one. The last domino to fall begins falling at 7:20 at Lambeau Field. The crowd has one last home game to give everything they have to urge the team to victory, bring it! I am so very proud of this team. 60 minutes that separates us from the postseason. Will they seize the scepter of destiny? Let's find out together. A nervously confident fan bellows: GO PACK GO!

Seize the scepter of destiny … that's not bad. I might swipe it sometime.

Sean from Cortland, NY

JUST BEAT THE LIONS! Then we get a clean slate and become the team no one wants to play.

Sounds like a plan, Stan. I mean, Sean. Happy Thursday.

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