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Inbox: It isn't necessarily a tell-tale sign

The Saints might be more dangerous now


Brett from Lakewood, CO

I personally think Sunday's game is very important. Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, EQ, MVS, etc., need to get on the plane heading home from New York understanding what it took to win an NFL game on the road. I'll sacrifice a few draft slots for that.

I think it would be worth it. Others will disagree, I get that.

John from Charlottesville, VA

I'm curious about how teams travel to games. Does each team have to pay for its own travel or does the NFL pool revenue and pay? It would seem a team like the Packers would have a revenue advantage over teams on the coast.

Teams are responsible for their own travel costs. The two-plane thing for trips now, which many teams are dealing with from what I understand, is adding exponentially to those costs.

Bill from Savannah, GA

How does Wes miss the alley-oop that Margo so perfectly set up for him? Somewhere in Edisto Beach, a retired writer is muttering something under his breath about these damn kids...

She sent in the question on the wrong day.

George from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Is it possible the speed and complexity of professional football has made it impossible for even the best officials to call a game accurately?

The speed of the action is not slowing down, and the complexity of the rules is not diminishing. I've said before the latter is what really makes it unfair to ask the officials to do their job well.

Trevor from Arvada, CO

Mathematically, if we were to win out, what is the worst, or highest draft pick possible for the Packers?

Well, at quick glance right now there are 13 teams with eight or more wins, plus either Washington or Philly will get at least eight, and the Packers at 7-8-1 can't finish ahead of the Vikings. So that would put Green Bay's worst possible position at 17*th*, as far as I can tell, though I may be missing something in the math.

Tom from Phoenix, AZ

Regarding the Packers vs. Bears rivalry just completing Game No. 198...during the strike-shortened 1982 season, both scheduled games vs. the Bears were canceled. There's your double dagger to the 200 contests mark.

Indeed, though the history in the 1920s plus the two postseason meetings show just how random it would have been, without the '82 strike, had the rivals actually played their 200th game in the Packers' 100th season.

Packers WR Davante Adams has been selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl. Take a look at his 2018 season thus far.

Jordan from Walpole, MA

Insiders, what is up with MVS? I understand he is a rookie and there will naturally be highs and lows, but he's been really quiet the last four weeks. Has Cobb being back limited his role? Is he facing more defensive attention?

His snap count has gone down and it appears St. Brown has moved ahead of him on the depth chart. It's hard to say. If he's hit the rookie wall, he wouldn't be the first. It can be very real. I remember sensing it a couple of years ago with Martinez, though his bum knee was a factor, too. He's certainly proof that a rookie year not ending strong isn't necessarily a tell-tale sign.

Zach from Delavan, WI

In response to Dave from Cormer, GA, "Iron sharpens iron" is from the Bible (Proverbs 27:17). I don't think they had steel when it was written, or cardboard for that matter, but most people have gotten the point of the application over the last 2,700 years. Wes, I appreciated your timeless literary reference.

Now you've really put the pressure on him.

Tim from Manitowoc, WI

If you were forced to label one play a galvanizing moment to our season what would it be? To me it's Montgomery's fumble. Seemed like that took a lot out of our guys and maybe created a locker room issue. Just looking from the outside in.

I mentioned **in my mid-week chat** there were a number of frustrating moments, and they piled up, but I never felt there were any issues in the locker room.

Subhadeep from Rocky Hill, CT

"Saints' Road Struggles Prove They Need Home-Field Advantage" is a title of an article and a key sentence is "And though Drew Brees and Co. are 7-1 on the road this season, they are far more vulnerable away from home." This made me laugh. They are 7-1 on road and due to close wins they are vulnerable. To me, this is an article written for the sake of writing an article, putting an "interesting" spin on a team having a great season to say something negative about them.

If the Saints weren't more vulnerable on the road they wouldn't be an NFL team. Since their run of three Super Bowl titles in four years in the early 2000s, the Patriots in the playoffs are 14-3 at home and 2-4 on the road. That's life. I think Monday night's 12-9 result made the Saints a more dangerous team, because they showed they can win a close game without having to rack up a whole bunch of points. If you don't have to dictate a certain style of play in order to win, you're less vulnerable in my view.

Ricky from St. Charles, MO

At the end of the Saints vs. Panthers game the Saints' fumble went out of the end zone and I would like to say I am in favor of this unpopular rule. It is the one rule in the NFL that blatantly favors the defense, and in a league that's fueled by offense it is refreshing. Also I would like the point out that the end zone is the defense's "property" and if you lose it in their property it should be handed over to you.

We had this discussion either last year or the year before, and for a long time I haven't liked the rule. But Monday night's Saints-Panthers game brought me around to the other side. That was such an idiotic, careless thing for the New Orleans player to do with his team in such firm control of the game. The Saints deserved to lose the ball. I get it now, I really do.

Chris from New York, NY

With the Packers' chances gone, I want to at least focus on the playoffs involving the other teams. Man, the Rams are looking really spotty after back-to-back losses. And we've seen it more than ever, teams that get hot late do best in the playoffs. With that being said, I think it's Bears vs. Chiefs in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs have only lost two close games to very respectable teams and I think the Bears are one of the hottest teams in the NFC that can go into New Orleans and pull an upset. Thoughts?

While I don't believe anyone will beat the Saints at home, the Bears' defense against that offense in the Superdome might be the NFC playoff matchup I most want to see. As for the AFC, I'm with a number of readers who have expressed their interest in seeing the Chargers and Philip Rivers make it to the big game. After their prime-time win at Arrowhead last week, that team won't be rattled by any playoff challenge on the road.

Tony from Greenwood, SC

Do you think Aaron Jones was overused given his injury history? Those knees of his seem to be tricky buggers.

Are you one of the people who was actually listening when I said there's a reason Jones' workload was monitored so closely early in the season? It's unfortunate what happened, because it appeared through the gradual buildup he had passed every test. When I talked to him for a story last week, he said he felt great. Even from a ways away in the press box Sunday, I could see his frustration on the sideline when he left the game.

Scott from Wilson, MI

I have three wishes for Christmas. That Tyler Lancaster's number will finally get called in the media for the quality plays he is making. Second, that Mike Pettine will get a chance to keep his job. Third, that Aaron and the rest of our offense will relax, forget stats, and just win these last two games. Do you agree?

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has been selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl. Take a look at his 2018 season thus far.

John from Yakima, WA

Avoid the cellar. Win one of the last two games, even if losing two gets a better draft position; cellar finishes linger mentally all offseason.

The Bears finished in last four straight years before this one. The Vikings were last three of the four years before that, and the Lions three of the four years before that. Yeah, they can linger. No thanks.

Steve from Palmer, AK

I know you never want to play for a tie, especially against the Bears, but I would have liked to see the Packers kick the field goal on first or second down in the fourth quarter, 10 points down, four minutes left. This gives the defense a shot to stop the Bears and get the ball back with time left. Instead, we ran a lot of time off the clock, would have had to try an onside kick (had Rodgers not been intercepted) with very little time. Thoughts?

I've seen this suggested, and I firmly disagree. The Packers had first-and-goal at the 9 with 3½ minutes left and all three timeouts. No way I'm kicking a field goal there before fourth down. If you fail on the play before, third-and-2 from the 25 at the 4-minute mark, then of course, but the scenario allowed for plenty of time to get a stop after a score. A different strategy mentioned by others – later on, kicking the field goal once in range, knowing you had to recover an onside kick anyway to have a chance, but saving clock for your second score – has some merit. Adams caught a 5-yard pass and got out of bounds at the 27 with 1:22 left. It's not a slam dunk of a call outdoors at Soldier Field in December, but I wouldn't have faulted Philbin for trying a 45-yarder there and getting to the onside kick, with way more time left if successful.

Scott from Fredonia, WI

We know your stance on rooting against the Packers for the sake of draft picks. But how do you feel about rooting for other teams with records close to ours?

In the immortal words of Jack Buck, "Go crazy, folks."

Jack from Naperville, FL

On Monday, you mentioned a key player being a significant free agent. I feel as if the Packers' most recent free-agent signings mainly consist of players on their "back-nine": Jared Cook, Martellus Bennett, Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Lance Kendricks, Tramon Williams, Julius Peppers, Jahri Evans, Byron Bell, Ahmad Brooks, etc. Do you think it's worth a gamble to throw more money at a free agent in his prime, or is it a better idea to pay less for an aging veteran that still has gas in the tank?

You have to see what the market looks like. Cook was 28 going on 29 when the Packers signed him. Having the same position in flux for three straight years has not helped the offense.

Al from Green Bay, WI

If Minnesota slips out of the last playoff spot (a real possibility with Philly coming on strong), will the Vikings' fan base view the Kirk Cousins acquisition as a bust? Remember, less than a year ago the QB was viewed in Minnesota as the "last missing piece."

Cousins gets three years to take the Vikings to a Super Bowl. His contract says as much. The evaluation will take care of itself.

Michael from Dover, PA

So is it reboot, rebuild, or reload?

A little of everything, don't you think?

Matthew from Marshfield, WI

I know that Rodgers' non interception streak was built on a lot of luck, i.e., defenders dropping balls thrown right to them, but I can't help but think how long this streak could have actually been. If I remember correctly, both of Rodgers' picks this year came off fairly accurate passes that were tipped into the air by his own receiver. If we throw those attempts out, when was the last time Aaron made a poor throw resulting in an interception? What is that streak currently at?

I took a closer look at the film, and the pass to Graham on the goal line was behind him. Could Graham have still caught it? Yes. But if the ball is more out in front the linebacker can't get a hand in there.

Andrew from Dayton, OH

Personally, I'm excited by our defense for next season (hopefully Pettine stays) and I am worried about our offense. Crazy how it was the exact opposite for many of the past several years.

I think everyone will be excited about the offense again soon enough.

Mike from McKinney, TX

Last year Rodgers breaks his collarbone in Week 6 and practiced only one of the final 11 weeks of the season. This year he injures his knee in Week 1 and probably did not practice 50 percent of the time since then. Do you really expect that any athlete can consistently perform at a top level when this much time is missed? Add in the fact that he had rookie receivers to work with, and it really is easy to see why his play has not been up to pre-2017 standards.

This is where my thoughts are starting to align.

Seth from Baltimore, MD

The biggest takeaway for me this season is the realization that Rodgers is far from perfect. He's still undoubtedly one of the best QBs to ever play the game, but there's still room for improvement for him. Fortunately, I also believe Rodgers performs his best when under public scrutiny, and this season certainly produced a lot of that. I look forward to seeing his response to all the naysayers next season.

This is also where my thoughts are starting to align.

Tristan from Durham, NC

Wes, your laser is impractical. The amount of energy required for a laser to destroy a football in the short period of time it would be over the field goal is enormous, and would be hard to see in clear weather, even if it were in the visible light spectrum. As a better option, you could coat the football with reflective material, and use a normal low-powered commercial laser. If it passed through the "uprights," it would flash to one side of the stadium, showing which side it passed on.

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