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Inbox: Embrace the opportunity

It’s what must be earned

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

Ryan from Mt. Zion, IL

Is math allowed on "Three Things"?

Larry makes those rules, which means (to steal a line from Grease's Scorpions), the rules are there ain't no rules.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Mike. Have you ever been tempted to throw a drink on an unruly fan from the press box?

No, but I'm sure Wes has come close to dumping water on my keyboard when I ask him a question at the wrong time.

Ross from Listowel, Canada

While this season is different than last for a lot of reasons, it may end up finishing the same way. After some midseason doubts, they have an opportunity to win and get in against a division rival who's officially eliminated but playing strong football down the stretch. Let's see if this year's Packers can flip the script.

For the record, in my time here, when the Packers have had something significant on the line in the regular-season finale, they've come through (2010, '13, '14, '16, '19, '20) far more often than they haven't ('12, '15, '22).

Michael from Baraboo, WI

We know the Bears will bring it to the game this weekend. What are the keys to victory?

Protect the ball, contain Fields, cover Moore and tackle well.

Steve from Middletown, KY

Good morning II. Love the way this team is coming together at crunch time. Right now, if you could fix or change one thing, offense or defense, to provide maximum improvement and impact for the Pack, what would it be?

Keep the takeaways coming on defense. Last week was just the fifth game this season with multiple.

Brian from Russia, OH

One scenario I did not see included in your "Path to the Playoffs" story is: What happens if the Packers tie the Bears on Sunday?

Seattle gets in with a win. Dismissing other possible tie scenarios, the Packers would still need the Seahawks to lose and either the Saints or Bucs to lose.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

If the Bills beat the Dolphins they have the No. 2 seed. If they lose they are out of the playoffs. Isn't that something.

Not necessarily. That could be the scenario when that game kicks off Sunday night. But if the Steelers lose Saturday or the Jaguars lose Sunday, the Bills are guaranteed a wild card if they don't win the AFC East.

Dave from Dayton, WI

Good morning Mike, when explaining the tiebreaker criteria during "Unscripted," you said we have the edge over Seattle due to strength of victory. How is that metric determined? Record of the teams we beat, division standing (when we played them or at the end of the season?) Also, my wife and I were out celebrating our anniversary so I couldn't join the live blog until halftime. I never heard what the issues were but any update on its status for this week?

Strength of victory is determined by calculating the cumulative winning percentage, at the end of the season, of all the other clubs a team defeated. The Packers' current margin over the Seahawks (.461 to .414) is too large to be overcome in the final week. As for the live blog, I don't know what Sunday has in store. We haven't received any updates on anything being resolved, but I will be blogging whether I can hear from the audience or not.

Stephen from Palos Park, IL

Both the Packers and Bears games this season were scheduled for 3:25 p.m. When was the last season that neither game between the two rivals was in primetime?


Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Seeing how different both the Packers and the Bears are from their first meeting makes the matchup even more intriguing and obviously there's a lot at stake here. I know there's many factors that go into the NFL schedule but having two opponents such as the Giants/Eagles and the Vikings/Lions play twice within three weeks is ridiculous. I just think any contest is a lot more compelling for many reasons when there's at least somewhat of a gap between games. No question, just my little rant on the NFL.

I concur. The Broncos and Chiefs, as well as Seahawks and Niners, played twice within three weeks at midseason, too. I don't think that serves the fans or the clubs. It's being quirky just for the sake of it, which is silly.

Brandon from Summerville, SC

I just noticed an interesting fact about the NFC North matchups this year so far. If a team lost the first division game, they went on to win the rematch, which of course means if they won the first one, they then lost the second one. There have been no sweeps yet. Let's hope we can change that statistic.

For sure, but the Lions might change it in the noon window first.

Aumed from Moorhead, MN

Interesting thought that came up in a podcast I was listening to. Jordan Love is 3-0 when facing a team he has lost to as a starter (Chiefs, Lions, Vikings). The Bears will be the first team he has faced again after winning. How much does the preparation change in that regard? Is it easier to defend against the counterpunch or be the ones delivering it?

You do have to anticipate the counterpunch and what exactly it might be, and then have an answer for it. Then back and forth we go. That's why I find division games to be the most unpredictable in a forever wildly unpredictable league.

Mike from Niles, IL

Jeffrey from Eveleth would like the D to play more aggressively, as do many of us. You responded that the D must change coverages periodically to try to confuse the QB so they're not seeing the same D every play. ML has made this point strongly several times. However, in the NY, TB, and Panther games, though JB was ostensibly doing this, you stated in two columns, DeVito, Mayfield and Young were not confused at all, and knew where they were going with the ball. Why was this the case?

There's a difference between changing up coverages and disguising them. Ideally, a defense can do both. If it can't, switching up only lasts so long, especially if the pass rush is ineffective.

Troy from Holcomb, KS

I know it's been a tough year for the defense but who would you consider to be the team's defensive player of the year?

I'm a big fan of consistency and reliability, with the occasional game-altering play. So for me right now that would mean a toss-up between Preston Smith and Kenny Clark.

Daniel from Lakeland, FL

"With the 26th pick in the 2020 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers select … Jordan Love, QB, Utah State." ESPN post-draft analysis: "This is a controversial pick. On one hand, Love will turn into an absolute steal if he reaches his considerable upside." Remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth afterwards? Upside, indeed. Mr. Gutekunst and staff earned their pay with this pick, as well as the 2023 draft.

I've always wondered, is there such a thing as wailing of teeth? Never mind. Carry on.

Scott from Reno, NV

Pondering the unfathomable – the possibility of three great QBs in succession – I am reminded how blessed we have been to have bold GMs willing to make what, at the time, were moves that left them wide open to second guessing. Wolf trading a 1 for Atlanta's third-string QB, Thompson picking Rodgers when he had a HOF QB already, and Gutey doing the same thing with Love. Favre paid off pretty quickly but Ted and Gutey had to live with the second guessing for years.

I think the lesson is it can pay to never be desperate for a quarterback, but a lot of teams wind up there and get stuck (to answer a question from Candace of Rice Lake). The Chiefs took Mahomes when they still had Alex Smith, right? The Ravens drafted Lamar when they still had Flacco. Some teams hit when they absolutely gotta have it – Bills with Allen, Bengals with Burrow, Dolphins with Tua and others – but that's a much bigger roll of the dice.

Bob from Atlanta, GA

At the beginning of the season some friends had doubts about JL. I told them he had the arm and needed experience. Now they have doubts about Anders Carlson. I told them he has the leg and needs experience. How did Mason Crosby do in his first year?

31-of-39 on field goals (48-of-48 on PATs, which were just 20 yards). He missed one field goal inside 40 yards, five others inside 50, and two from 50-plus.

Saad from Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala

II, I was listening to "Unscripted" where you talked about what Love is doing with first- and second-year receivers, and how the production is coming from whoever is up. I recall always hearing that receivers in Green Bay took a few years to get up to speed (back when we had vets tearing it up). Why are we seeing this level of production so soon?

For one, the young pass catchers are playing a ton, not just occasionally, so they're banking reps and experience at a much faster rate than previous rookies. For another, their quarterback isn't polishing his dissertation while they're taking entry-level courses. A smaller gap there has proven to have its benefits, once they battled through all the rough moments together in September and October.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

Is it really that unusual for a quarterback to not have his feet set/on the ground when he throws the football? Throughout the year, during game broadcasts, announcers continue to show Love's feet at the point of the throw compared to either Favre or Rodgers. It's always with their feet off the ground, and they talk about how unique this is. I watch a lot of football, but don't typically watch the quarterback's feet. Is this unusual? Thanks!

One key facet of QB play is finding effective throwing lanes. They've got big dudes with long arms and giant hands getting in their face, so whether it's changing the arm angle or the feet placement or where Wes hides his lunch, they have to do what it takes for the ball to have a pathway to its intended target.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024.

Joe from Swansea, IL

Too soon to declare the Pro Bowl vote an embarrassing joke? The Packers join the Pats, Commanders and Panthers as the only teams without a first-team player. Those last three teams are a combined 10-38. The Packers are contending for a playoff berth. Yet they have fewer first-teamers than the Titans, Chargers and Cardinals. Preposterous.

Don't forget outrageous and egregious. OK, I'll stop with the Jackie Chiles. I don't pay it too much mind, but as I said on "Unscripted," I was most surprised by Love not being at least an alternate at QB. But the first half of any season always weighs more in the Pro Bowl voting than the second half. So it goes.

Kurt from East Peoria, IL

I just saw that Brock Purdy now holds the franchise record for the San Francisco 49ers with the most passing yards in a single season. Considering the quarterbacks that have played for the 49ers, I have to say that's purdy amazing.

Ouch. You can see yourself out. That speaks more to how much the game has changed over the last 30 years than anything else.

Jim from Mundelein, IL

This is a comment because y'all are too modest. The “What You Might’ve Missed” episodes are "must see." All Inboxers should know this. This video and analysis slows things down and shows the complexity and beauty of the game. My favorite was several weeks ago when the OL coordination was featured. These dudes performed like a ballet company…all five left legs moving in sync to start. A link of this should you post might inform II folk.

Thanks, Jim. The one I posted Tuesday on Love from the Minnesota game was probably my favorite one to work on this season, just watching his pre-snap mastery. I can't promise continued bonus ones like this week, though, because those postings require a ton of technical help from Jen and Lauren in our department. They help put those together and were huge for me this week. I appreciate immensely their assistance and have to be careful not to overburden them.

Jim from Maple Grove, MN

Mike, I'll admit it's hard for me to see the rest of the NFL objectively through my green and gold glasses, but if you were a neutral fan looking for a rooting interest for the NFC's 7 seed, wouldn't you say that the Packers are the most intriguing team? An ascendant first-year QB with a talented, upstart roster around him looks a lot more exciting to me than the other options. It's why I'm rooting for the Texans to get into the AFC dance. Your thoughts?

That's essentially what Wes has been saying lately and I tend to agree. But the football gods don't care about what anybody wants. It's what must be earned.

Matty from Durango, CO

I'm seeing that playoff teams earn $41,500 for losing a wild-card game and $46,500 for winning. With all our low paid UDFA's, and practice squad call ups some of them would be getting a very nice percent bonus getting into the playoffs. I know $41,500 isn't much for Wes and Spoff but for some of us it's real money!

Yeah, because my silk pajamas make it so hard for me to get out of bed every morning.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

The Packers are now in the playoffs. They start Sunday at home against the Bears. How will the youngest roster in the NFL respond to the pressure cooker atmosphere of the game? The Bears would like nothing more than putting a cherry on top of their season by knocking the Packers out. This could be a classic. I'll have to get the nerve tonic out. Go Pack.

Don't be nervous. Embrace the opportunity. When this team was 2-5 and 3-6 and 6-8, everyone would've killed for this chance.

Nick from Mount Horeb, WI

Is there any way for the Packers to get into the playoffs?

(Sigh.) Happy Friday.

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