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Inbox: He needs to win those

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Mike from Niles, IL

"Looking back is a waste of time. It's all about what's in front." Half right, to be sure. But we all learned in high school, forgetting mistakes made in history is a guarantee that they will be repeated. The margin between winning ugly and losing ugly is razor thin.

True enough. There's also a line for professional athletes between learning from the past and being distracted by it. They have to walk it properly.

Mike from Dubuque, IA

Now that Leroy Butler is a HOF finalist, does Wes get the credit for his rant?

Indubitably. I think we're both just glad the details of his case are finally going to be presented in front of the full selection committee. Whether or not this is the year for him, it's a tremendous step in the right direction.

Todd from Eau Claire, WI

How has Raven Greene looked in practice and what are the odds that he will come off IR to help in the postseason? Also, what is the deadline for the Packers to make the decision?

Greene practiced for the first time since Week 2 on Thursday and LaFleur said there will be an evaluation period to see if he can help in the playoffs. A roster spot is available due to the release of Tony Brown. The Packers have all next week to decide whether to activate him for the divisional game.

Curt from Oronoco, MN

My son pointed out that by the time the Packers start their next game, there will only be five teams still alive. So we have that going for us, which is nice.

Hadn't thought of it that way. But it does whittle down quickly. One thing about the way the regular season unfolded – so few teams were still alive in Week 17 that as many teams will be eliminated this coming weekend as last weekend, I think.

Mike from Brick, NJ

Longtime reader, first-time submitter. With all the talk about how the offense seems just a tick off, it looks to me like the scheme is working well to get receivers open. If it were the other way around, it would seem harder to "fix." But with a sound scheme, and just needing to adjust execution a little bit, I feel good about the next 180 minutes of football. These players and coaches are as good as any in the league, let's fine tune the offense and get rolling through the playoffs!

More often than not the plays are there to be made, in my opinion. I'm working on a story on what's either a disturbing or promising trend with the offense over the last month, depending on your perspective. In the final four games of the regular season, the Packers had a dozen possessions that crossed midfield but resulted in no points. Think about that – 12 times in four games. That's a lot of missed opportunities that no team can afford in the playoffs. It's also an indication of how close they've been to putting a lot more points on the board.

Alexander from Muskego, WI

Is it just me, or did we not have a defensive touchdown this regular season? With how stellar this defense has been in stretches, I'm a bit surprised we never snagged a pick-six. That sure would be a nice feather in the ol' playoff cap.

They sure went a long way nine years ago when Williams and Raji got them.

Quinten from Newell, IA

How do we get Preston Smith to break out again like Z. Smith has the last few games?

Great question. I mentioned on "Unscripted" that as defenses adjust to Za'Darius lining up in different spots and attacking different gaps, Preston should get his share of one-on-ones. He needs to win those.

Kevin from Milwaukee, WI

Wes mentioned that we can't afford slow starts against the likes of the Saints or 49ers. How much do you think miscues on the first play of the game would wind up preventing that from happening? The two instances I'm referring to are Graham's drop against the Lions that would have gotten us started, and Adams' "penalty" against the 49ers, especially with that leading to the next play being a sack and fumble. Those go in our favor and we might have had the fast starts we're looking for.

Absolutely, but those are great examples of how every play matters. Miscues happen all the time, but when you struggle to overcome those miscues they become magnified.

Shaun from Sun Prairie, WI

What's been most surprising about the Packers and their 13-3 record this year?

How many different explanations there are for it.

Mike from Rapid City, SD

With Green Bay being the smallest market in the NFL, how big an impact does hosting a playoff game have on the community?

It's roughly a $10-12 million local economic impact for any home game. I addressed this and several other topics in my mid-week chat yesterday.

Nic from London, UK

Is it technically possible for both wild-card teams to advance to the conference championship whereby No. 5 would host after having played two road games? I'm sure it's never happened but would be pretty funny.

It's never happened. The lowest seed to host a conference title game in the current format is the No. 4, when Arizona hosted No. 6 Philadelphia in 2008 (Jan. 2009).

Brock from West Lafayette, IN

Since the Packers have a bye this weekend, will you guys be able to simply watch and enjoy the games, or will you be prepping material for the following week?

I'll definitely be sitting back and watching the games, but I'll also be prepping a quick story to post on Sunday as soon as the Packers' opponent is known.

Zachary from Harrington, DE

I was watching some highlights and one of my favorites this year is watching the Jake Kumerow catch vs. the Bears and him fighting for those extra yards. That play fits his personality well. What do you guys think and what are your favorite highlights from the season?

Right now, to pick one play on each side of the ball, I'd go with the Rodgers-to-Williams TD pass in the back corner of the end zone in Kansas City, and Dean Lowry's interception a few weeks ago vs. Chicago. Both illustrate to me how things can look rather dire for this team when suddenly someone will make a spectacular play out of nowhere.

Ferd from Woodbury, MN

Looking ahead to our most likely opponent...I can't recall the Packers and Saints ever facing each other in the playoffs. Would this be a first?

Yes. New Orleans is the only other NFC playoff team the Packers have not faced in the postseason before. Green Bay has actually faced everyone else in this year's field in the playoffs in the past decade.

Jeff from Athens, WI

Reading the II, I noticed a comment that the offense is boring due to a lack of trick plays. Trick plays are fun to watch, when they work. They are called trick plays because they do not have a high percentage of success unless you get the defensive look you are expecting. This is the chess match that all coaches and coordinators play every week their team is on the field. I'll take a steady and consistent offense that can produce a win over a flashy trick play any day.

The Lions executed theirs in the first quarter and jump-started a potential upset. The Vikings botched theirs in the second quarter and didn't get back inside the Green Bay 45-yard line again the rest of the game. No guarantees.

Dave from East Burke, VT

Wes mentioned that he wouldn't be surprised if the Titans knocked out the Patriots. What is your take on that Mike?

Derrick Henry gives Tennessee a great chance to win that game. The one category New England's outstanding defense did not rank high in during the regular season was yards per rush. The Patriots were 14th.

Rob from Muskego, WI

How do coaches approach game prep during a bye week? Do they focus only on aspects that will apply to all potential opponents, or do they do partial plans for all potential opponents for the next game?

LaFleur described the self-scout as identifying the offensive concepts the Packers have been most successful running. Assistant coaches have also been reviewing each of the three possible opponents, but they aren't really forming a game plan yet, just studying tendencies, personnel, etc.

Mike from Eau Claire, WI

Knowing the four turnovers are the main reason the Badgers lost, I still have some questions. Did ESPN not replay the two holding calls that took away Jonathan Taylor first-down runs? In addition, should there have been a targeting review on Oregon's last punt to the Badgers? Did they review the ball placement near the goal line that put the Badgers in fourth-and-short and led to a timeout? No need to discuss the missed hands to the face on the Coan interception or the late PI call.

The Rose Bowl was chock full of disappointments and frustrations. All the questionable calls and non-calls aside, Wisconsin made way too many mistakes to expect to beat a good team. The Badgers were in firm control at different junctures and gave the game away, plain and simple. No one's talking about the officials if you don't turn it over four times. Oregon scored 14 points in the second half and ran one offensive play from scrimmage to do so.

David from Los Angeles, CA

Thinking about that catch by Aaron Jones in KC where he steps out at the 10-yard line with his heel. That inch he stepped out was the difference between him catching Green's all-time GB TD record.

So it goes. If I know Jones, he won't give it a second thought.

Perry from Ishpeming, MI

Let's take a minute to look at how great a season Aaron Jones had this year. He was one reception and 26 receiving yards short of becoming the fourth Packer RB to be a 1,000-yard rusher with 50 catches and 500 receiving yards (Green '00-01, Levens '99, and Bennett '95). How special is he becoming?

You answered your own question. The other three backs you referenced are the last three running backs (not including fullback William Henderson) to be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame, and Jones is just finishing his third season.

John from Yakima, WA

What, if any, are the rules regarding the scheduling of the playoff games, especially the wild-card games? Separate days for each conference seems a bit weird.

There aren't rules, per se, but considerations to maximize on ratings and be fair to the teams. This year I suspect the league had Philly's home game pegged for the final slot of the weekend, late Sunday afternoon, knowing the NFC West runner-up would be traveling cross-country after getting flexed to Sunday night in Week 17.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Could the week-to-week game planning you mentioned in the midweek chat be a cause for some of the inconsistency we are seeing from the offense? For the Packers to take it to the next level, what are the landmarks to pursue in each phase?

I think the weekly approach is a factor, particularly in the first year of a new offense. It takes time to build up the reps, timing and efficiency with a large volume of concepts. LaFleur and Rodgers suggested Thursday the offense's most productive concepts would be the focus for the postseason. They just have to make the extra play on a drive where they're on the edge of scoring range. I think the defense and special teams did find another level down the stretch. It's a matter of that being the new standard for those phases and not having lapses, like the first half in Detroit.

Paul from Clintonville, WI

In Green Bay Packers history what is the Packers' all-time playoff record in games played at Lambeau Field?

16-5, but 5-5 in the last 10 dating back to the 2002 NFC Wild Card game.

William from Rosedale, IN

Greetings. Last year, we lost most of the close games that were decided by a touchdown or less. This year, we are winning them. What tilts the scale: new coach, the free-agency players, luck?

Success (or lack thereof) in the clutch can build on itself. Last year, the Packers had the great comeback to beat the Bears in Week 1, then crumbled down the stretch in the tie with the Vikings (one call notwithstanding), and had a huge dropped pass and fumble in the fourth quarter at Washington in Week 3. Crunch time was more miss than hit from there on out. This year? Amos' INT, big punt, big sack in Week 1. King INT and close-out drive in Week 2. Near-miss in Week 4, but you could already sense the belief was there, even though it didn't work out. The Week 6 comeback vs. Detroit in prime time cemented the belief. This team doesn't shy away from the big moments.

Robert from Richfield, MN

Hey Insiders, can you give me the breakdown of who the Packers would play based on who wins this weekend? I'm just not following how things line up, though I do understand we would see New Orleans if they win.

"Path to the Playoffs" becomes "Road to the Super Bowl" and will post tonight or tomorrow morning.

Annie from Durham, NC

Oh my. Having watched Aaron Rodgers personally from the stands, I do believe either Weston or Michael needs to converse with Mistah Luke Getsy and tell him Aaron can improve the passing game for the playoffs if he breathes through his eyes when releasing the ball.

Unfortunately, firing one at the mascot wouldn't have the same effect as in baseball. Happy Friday, everyone.

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