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Inbox: He's been one tough customer down the stretch

There’s no edge in terms of who’s the hotter team

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DL Kenny Clark

Paula from Apple Valley, MN

Thanks to Wes's advice to Thomas from Oconomowoc I am nervous, but no longer afraid. Bring on the Bucs!

Anxiety and fear are not the same.

Gary from Stevens Point, WI

Now that the first "Queen's Gambit" reference has been made, we need a WYMM upside down on the ceiling.

Ha, good one. Sorry, but for now you'll have to settle for the traditional version.

Ryan from Watertown, WI

Here's some more irony for you. The Bills lost to Kansas City in Week 6 and the Packers lost to the Bucs in Week 6.

Is that irony or coincidence? I get them mixed up.

Drew from Dubuque, IA

How big of an advantage will Aaron Rodgers' experience in NFC Championship games be on Sunday? Tampa's QB has never played in one before; do you think the moment will be too big for him? I'll hang up and listen.

Once again, there's one in every crowd.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi II, this season, we have scored more points in the 2Q than any team has EVER scored in any quarter. In the regular-season TB game, we got outscored 28-0 in the 2Q. Their best RB got over 100 yards with 4.9 yards per carry, and Aaron Jones got stoned with 15 yards on 10 carries. And, we're playing the GOAT. We've got a lot of work to do. Bring it on.

So, take out Week 6 and the Packers have outscored their opponents 235-71 in the second quarter in their other 16 games, including last week. That's insane.

Ian from Sherman Oaks, CA

How about a little role play from the perspective of the Buccaneers? What are three keys to victory to beat the Packers and earn a trip to the Super Bowl?

Run the ball, stop the run with six in the box (which they've made a living doing), and make someone other than Davante Adams beat you in the passing game.

Jeff from Frisco, TX

Morning fellas, it is mid-week and the last game is behind us. As the game ended I thought 32-18 was a very odd score. It turns out, it is only the third time in NFL history and the first time ever in postseason. Isn't the internet great. Carry on!

Will do.

Michael from Winfield, IL

WYMM: While watching game highlights of one of the Packers' touchdowns, I noticed a Packers player resetting the end-zone pylon while the rest of the team celebrated. Character. Any idea who that was?

It's funny, I went back to check, and after the Rodgers scramble TD, the pylon got knocked over but everyone just left it laying there. After the Allen Lazard TD in the fourth quarter, Malik Taylor inadvertently stumbled over it during the celebration, and Davante Adams reset it before heading back to the sideline.

Mark from Naperville, IL

Spoff, I was reading your game blog while watching the game and am wondering, how does someone get their comments chosen to appear in the blog chat?

By pure luck. When there are 2,000 live readers in the blog, the comments are coming in fast and furious. While watching the game and blogging it, I don't come close to seeing all the fan comments. But if one catches my eye or is representative of a large sample, I toss it in as part of the conversation. It's totally random. I'm also mentally exhausted by the end of every game with a ton of work still awaiting me, but it's a blast and I'm not complaining.

Paul from Minneapolis, MN

A metaphor only Packer Backers will understand: "...once all the perch is in the livewell."

I'm more of a crappie guy, but I loved that line.

Matt from Philadelphia, PA

Saw some interesting numbers from Pro Football Focus: Brady (not pressured): 3,958 yards, 36 TDs, 7 INTs, 115.1 QB rating. Brady (pressured) 675 yards, 4 TDs, 5 INTs, 54.5 QB rating. I think the key to this game is making Brady uncomfortable in the pocket, what say you?

It always has been, but it's also always easier said than done. Because if you blitz, he knows right where to go with the ball. The four-man rush has to do the job, but as I mentioned the other day, two dynamite defensive fronts from Washington and New Orleans barely harassed him. It's a huge challenge.

Brian from Maplewood, MN

The last time we played the Bucs, the Packers were missing Allen Lazard and Kevin King. I would add Kenny Clark, too. Wasn't that his first game back? I think that his ability to disrupt the middle will be key to making Tom Brady uncomfortable. Go Pack!

Yes, and agreed. Clark wasn't himself his first few games back from that groin injury. He's been one tough customer down the stretch.

Randy from Westminster, CO

Go Pack Go! Great matchup for the NFC Championship. The Tampa Bay defense is extremely fast and aggressive. They were all over the Saints receivers Sunday night. Can all the pre-snap motion and deception, along with playing on the natural grass of Lambeau Field which can be slippery, help to neutralize their speed?

I'm very curious to see, not so much about the surface because that's likely dependent on Sunday's weather. But the Packers didn't use much motion or misdirection in the first meeting, and LaFleur said afterward it wasn't a big part of the plan based on their film study. Stay tuned I guess.

Dean from Belmont, MI

The Packers have now made the playoffs and won at least one playoff game in back-to-back years. Amazingly, that is the second-longest active streak in the NFL, trailing only the Chiefs (three years in a row). Six other teams have a one-year steak. Does that not show how hard it is to stay on top in this league?

Indubitably.

Steven from Tucson, AZ

This seems like a total oversimplification, but it feels like whoever can establish the run and win the turnover battle probably wins on Sunday. Hopefully it's Green Bay on both counts.

It may be an oversimplification, but that doesn't disqualify it from containing a lot of truth.

Peter from Gainesville, GA

In a recent broadcast one of the commentators remarked that Aaron Rodgers said that something he first liked about LaFleur was that he only had three rules. He liked the simplicity of it. If they said what his rules are though, I didn't hear it. What are these LaFleur rules to play by?

I don't know if these are exactly right, but they're something along the lines of be professional, be accountable, and be on time.

Steve from Phoenix, AZ

I think the Bucs are going to try to intimidate the Packers. They are going to play physical, in-your-face football, complete with cheap shots after tackles, and late hits, e.g., Hsu's brand of football – and the Packers will stand up to the nonsense, and beat them as they should, between the whistles.

LaFleur challenged this team heading into the Tennessee game to play at a more intense, physical level, and I think the Packers have played that way their last three games. No reason to stop now.

Darin from Madisonville, KY

Saturday night Kurt Warner made a claim on the air that all playoff games should be played in a dome stadium so that the only thing that matters is the ability of the players. I say if you want to play the game in weather you are accustomed to, win enough games in the regular season to earn it. What are your thoughts?

Or we could plug in all the heights, weights, 40 times, stats and everything else into a computer and let it tell us who's better. Puh-leeze. Warner's suggestion ranks as one of the most asinine ever uttered.

Douglas from Bloomington, IL

A truly unsung aspect of this team is its ability to run out the clock late in the game. We took over with five minutes to go against LA and ran it down to the gun. Great running, smart, easy throws, and the awareness to stay in bounds keep that clock rolling. I love that Rodgers can get that quick two-minute drive score before the half and then that five-minute drive at the end to seal the victory. Total control at both halves' end.

The best part about killing the final five minutes against the Rams was the Packers gained three first downs without even needing a third-down conversion.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Insiders, I want to hang out with whoever does the Lego highlights. They have to be fun. From Ramsey yelling at his teammate, to Rodgers switching the ball from his right to left hand as he crosses the goal line, to Jones planking on the stadium fence after his 60-yarder, to the "Walk like an Egyptian" sack dance by Za'Darius Smith and Rashan Gary. They miss NOTHING! So epic.

Never a disappointing episode.

Dave from Roswell, GA

So a lot of fans are stating the Packers are a much better team (including you guys) which I wholeheartedly agree but let's not forget...so is Tampa.

The Buccaneers lost back-to-back three-point games to playoff teams (Rams, Chiefs) before their late Week 13 bye, and have been rolling since. The Packers haven't lost since Week 11 and found another gear after the rough second half vs. Carolina in Week 14. There's no edge in terms of who's the hotter team.

Keith from Lincoln, IL

Does Ma Hod know Wes curses in the press box? Don't tell her if she doesn't.

Trust me, she packs little notes to keep him in line.

Jeffery from Milwaukee, WI

Hey Insiders, Spoff had a comment on Monday that he's tired of holding his breath during special-teams plays. New Orleans had one of the top special-teams units in the NFL and made a number of great plays early. Tampa, on the other hand, is like the Packers where the unit has been a source of weakness all year. Could the game Sunday come down to which team makes a mistake on special teams?

To be brutally honest, I hope not.

Pete from Babylon, NY

Not a question just an accolade. The third-down conversion by Marquez Valdes-Scantling was critical to the success we had. A fantastic effort on the catch and stretch. A lot to mention but did not want that one to get overlooked.

You know what blew me away about that play? It was the same play (to the other side of the field) on which MVS fumbled in overtime in Indy, and LaFleur had the guts to call it not only in a crucial situation, but one snap after AJ Dillon had just fumbled the ball. If that's not an example of never blinking, and maintaining faith in your players, nothing is.

Aaron from Scottsdale, AZ

True, TB12 played 20 years in chilly New England, but the rest of that Bucs team hasn't. Also, when Brady looked for a team to sign with, can any of part of his decision be attributable to his advancing age and the warmer climate? Even the greatest players' ability to endure the frigid conditions that exist in Lambeau in mid-January diminish over time. Look at Favre in that 2007 playoff loss to the Giants, for one. This may impact Brady more than some may expect given his history in NE.

I'm not counting on it. Two years ago it was 19 degrees in Kansas City when he won the AFC title game in overtime. How the rest of the Bucs players handle the ball in the cold is the larger question to me.

Tracy from Bellevue, WA

When Tampa crushed the Packers 38-10, the Packers actually started off with a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. The momentum was in the Packers' favor. They got the ball back and were driving again and if they had scored a TD there it would have been 17-0 and a different ballgame. However, that's when Rodgers threw the pick-six and the whole momentum of the game changed. If they take care of the ball this week they will win. I predict the Packers win 35-24 and Rodgers has three TD passes. Go Pack Go.

I caution anyone looking at that first quarter in Tampa as anything but a mirage. I said it at the time and in the aftermath, everything on those two early scoring drives came via extended, improv plays. Nothing on time or in rhythm, and the rest of the game played out as such. The Packers have to find some rhythm and timing early against the Buccaneers' defense. That's what'll make it a different ballgame.

Pete from Chippewa Falls, WI

Crazy how good Rodgers is because he really was "off" against the Rams. He missed MVS in the end zone for a TD when he threw it too high. He missed MVS wide open for what would have been a long TD when they were backed up near the goal line. He made a throw behind ESB that ESB caught. He completed a pass to Adams on the sideline on a double move that would have perhaps been a TD if he didn't underthrow it. Think his "off" game this week is a good sign for Sunday. He'll be sharp.

Works for me.

Al from Pueblo West, CO

Hi II, thanks for the opportunity to speak. "Everything's just words at this point." Love that quote. LaFleur's whole mindset has been the thing that makes him different and such a special leader. "Talk is cheap, just go out on the field and prove it." Play your best football today, in this game, and everything else will take care of itself. I personally believe the Packers have the better team, but it will only be speculation until the words become actions. GO PACK GO.

Happy Wednesday.

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