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Inbox: It's go time, man

This is without question the biggest test the run defense has faced all season

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CB Kevin King

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Wes, will there be an Insider Inbox on Christmas day to read? In any case, I wish you, Mike, your families, and everyone involved in blessing us fans with II, a very Merry Christmas!

Correct. The Inbox train will keep rolling through the holiday week. You'll get to spend Christmas with Spoff and the day-after Christmas with yours truly…save me some turkey.

Doug from Westford, MA

Hello, in England, they say Happy Christmas.

So maybe that's where Spoff got that from.

Kevin from Horicon, WI

I know that Aaron Rodgers wants to get the ball to 17, but so do the defenders. Why wouldn't you hurt them with 13, 83 and 85 and force them to ease coverage on 17?

Moves and countermoves, Kevin. I won't bore you by running through Davante Adams' game logs this year. But every time the Pro Bowl receiver has been held under 100 yards in a game he's finished this season, Adams has responded the following week with a 100-yard game and at least one TD. The ball is back in the Packers' court Sunday.

Jason from Roseville, IL

Recognizing that underdogs, upsets and snubs make better headlines than a guy just doing their job, will Big Bob benefit more as the snub darling than as an actual Pro Bowler?

You hope so. I know Davante Adams' and Za'Darius Smith's stock seemed to rise after they were "snubbed" in 2016 and '19, respectively. If I know Robert Tonyan, he hasn't lost any sleep over this but you can tell how disenchanted his teammates were by the third-year tight end not getting the Pro Bowl nod. But as Adams said, if Tonyan puts together another season like this in 2021, he'll be on the NFL's radar soon enough.

Meagan from Wausau, WI

So much talk about our run defense stopping Henry, where is our defense rated compared to last year?

Statistically, it has improved across the board (eighth in total yards and 14th in scoring). The Packers are 11th against the run this year but also 21st in average yards per run play (4.55). Now, that average has dipped over the last month, with Krys Barnes back, and Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry playing some of their best football of the season. Still, as Spoff alluded to Wednesday, this is without question the biggest test the run defense has faced all season.

Duane from Oak Creek, WI

Can the defense keep Derrick Henry under 100 yards on Sunday?

Yes, that's entirely possible. But the Packers also can win this game even if Henry surpasses 100 yards. The key is making him work for it, though, and not allowing any big runs.

Matt from Irvine, CA

Do you think the defense knows its performance this week could determine if Aaron wins another MVP award? I imagine if Henry gets to 2,000 yards rushing on the year that he has to be named MVP. The Packers' ability to stop the run could be more important than just getting the win.

Has to be MVP? I don't know about that with how well Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes have played but I agree the MVP probably is down to those three. Henry, meanwhile, is looking to be the first running back to win the award in eight years.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Merry Christmas, Wes. Which stat is the best indicator of a Packers win Sunday night? Which would you pick if you could be guaranteed only one of them?

A) 35 minutes TOP (vs. 25 for Titans)

B) Plus-two turnovers

C) 100 yards more in total offense than the Titans

D) 8-of-12 on third/fourth-down conversions for the Packers

E) 25 penalty yards assessed against the Packers

F) 100% TDs in the red zone for the Packers' offense

G) Zero missed FGs and PATs for the Packers

Plus-two in turnovers would be huge in this matchup, given how LaFleur and Rodgers tend to maximize those takeaway opportunities (e.g. the Carolina game). As Mike Vrabel pointed out during his conference call with Green Bay media on Wednesday, the Packers are 10-0 this year when they don't turn over the football. This game will come down to fundamentals and which team is more technically sound for 60 minutes.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Sure, Derrick Henry poses a great challenge to the Packers' defense. But what do you think they are saying in Tennessee about the prospect of facing Rodgers, Adams, Aaron Jones and Co. on the frozen tundra?

Right. It works both ways. As much as we've perseverated on the Packers needing to stop Henry (myself included), we probably haven't talked enough about the challenges the Titans' 27th-ranked defense has in containing Rodgers and this offense. I still have no clue why the NFL put an intraconference game in Week 16 but these two teams stayed in that Sunday Night Football timeslot for a reason. It's go time, man.

Robert from Springfield, VA

Thanks for the WYMM on Adrian Amos. I thought he was a terrific signing last year and a bargain for what they paid. His stability at safety should not be overlooked. A really good safety is rarely noticed but one who gets out of his lanes... (see: HHCD). So, thanks for noticing.

Adrian Amos has really blossomed in the second half of the year and playing the best he has in a Packers uniform right now. The fact the Packers can move him around with Raven Greene out allows the rest of the secondary to play their natural positions. Amos is so assignment-sure, which in turn, leads to him playing faster.

Ross from Roswell, GA

Mike/Wes, almost two years into the Matt LaFleur regime in Green Bay, what is the one thing about Coach LaFleur that surprises you based on what your first impressions were when he first took the job? Thanks and Merry Christmas to the both of you.

How good LaFleur's plan was to train his football team. It's one thing to be a disciple of arguably the league's most innovative offensive scheme and have a history of developing quarterbacks, but LaFleur also had a very clear vision of how he wanted to practice and the schedule he was going to have players on. He came in two steps ahead of where I expected him to be as a first-time head coach.

Jeff from Ripon, WI

Why is it hard to find good safeties or defensive backs in the draft? Packers seem to always be drafting at this position every year.

Because you need six starters now – not just four, like most teams had when they were playing base personnel for most of the game. The Packers haven't hit on every defensive back they've drafted but their batting average is pretty high over the last 10 years.

Gary from Davenport, IA

The kicker that got the NFC Pro Bowl nod is Younghoe Koo of Atlanta. He is 35-36 on FG attempts and 8-8 on FGs of 50-plus yards. He has scored 133 points on the season with every game in a dome or in a warm-weather environment. His only miss would have given Atlanta a 29-10 lead vs. the Bears and it ended up forcing the Falcons to score a TD on their last drive. He has made no clutch FGs from what I could see. Did Mason Crosby have a chance at the Pro Bowl with so few FG attempts?

The odds probably weren't great with a kicker like Koo having the season he's having. Crosby has been perhaps the most consistent kicker in the NFL over the past 13 years. But it seems like during his best seasons, there's always been someone out there who has a career year.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Happy Holiday Insiders, the offensive line has been impressive and Hunter Bradley, as well. Adam Stenavich and Luke Butkus have done a great coaching job this season. Who is an unsung hero on the coaching staff? Thanks and have a great Christmas!

The same to you, Bret. The Packers have a lot of bright football minds on this staff, but I continue to be amazed by Ben Sirmans. The fact he was retained after his three years with Mike McCarthy speaks volumes of his abilities as a teacher of the game and developer of talent.

Dennis from Ottawa, IL

What else goes into the Pro Bowl team? As I understood that Hunter Bradley was the leading vote-getter at his position but did not get selected.

The fan vote is only one-third of the process. Six years ago, I think Jarrett Bush won the fan vote as a specialist but then didn't make the team. It happens.

Darrel from Pueblo, CO

II, what can we read into the signing of a kicker whose credentials don't seem that overwhelming? Is Crosby injured?

It's an insurance policy in case anything would happen to Crosby or even JK Scott. With how long it takes for a free agent to pass COVID protocols, it's better to have a backup on the roster at this point of the season – especially since teams out of playoff contention will start signing "future" players for the 2021 season very soon.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams from his Pro Bowl season.

Eric from Mequon, WI

Let's call out the elephant in the NFL room from the entire season...Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft aren't the football geniuses we all thought they were. They were good at their job while riding the arm of a HOF QB. As I have read on this forum so many times..."Players NOT plays."

Belichick is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NFL, but this year really left me scratching my head. The Patriots weren't bad enough to be in the running for Trevor Lawrence but it also doesn't appear Cam Newton is their future at quarterback. So what are they? Are they going to look for another running quarterback and go all-in on the ground-heavy offense they displayed this year?

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

Happy Christmas to Wes, Mike and everyone at packers.com! Since the Patriots began their inconceivable run in 2001, this year marks the first time they have been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. In 2002 and 2008, they lost tiebreakers to other teams. Seventeen playoff appearances in 20 years = inconceivable! And yes, that word does mean what I think it means... ;-)

Well done…and no doubt. One way or another, you gotta put some respect on Belichick's name for a two-decade long run of being in playoff contention. That's ridiculous.

Rusty from Eustace, TX

First and foremost, thanks for everything y'all have done to make life as a Packers fan more enjoyable during this challenging year. Kudos to your families as well. As a 34-year vet, I understand what they "give up" in allowing you to do your job. Along the lines of family, have Aaron Jones' parents been allowed to attend games at Lambeau since they opened it up to employee families? Merry Christmas and enjoy your time with your families!

Thank you for your service, Rusty. Unfortunately, players' families haven't been able to attend games, even after they opened Lambeau Field to employees and their families. You just can't take that risk with the postseason fast-approaching and COVID-19 still prevalent in the Green Bay area right now. I asked Aaron a month or so ago about his parents' streak ending, but they've still been cheering him on from afar.

Joseph from Salt Lake City, UT

If this weekend goes as the last two have for us around the league and we lock up the No. 1 seed, do you envision ML sitting a chunk of the starters against the Bears?

There will be plenty of time to answer these questions if everything plays out the way you're suggesting. Let's just get through this weekend.

Paul from Middleton, WI

My family had the Muppet Christmas Album on vinyl guest starring John Denver. Classic.

I have plenty of favorite Christmas movies ("A Muppets Christmas" among them) but I don't have a favorite Christmas song.

Jeff from Wentzville, MO

Derek from Eau Claire: What's your favorite Christmas song, Spoff?

Spoff: Vocally? "The Little Drummer Boy." Instrumentally? "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24."

Me: Vocally? White Christmas by Bing Crosby. Instrumentally/Vocally? The Little Drummer Boy, Bob Seeger version.

Wes, what's your favorite Christmas Song(s)?

OK, there were a million of these questions so obviously this means a lot to people. So I asked my wife to speak for me. Here's what she came up with: Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Carol of the Bells," Pentatonix's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," Frank Sinatra's "Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" and Frank Sinatra & Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." So there you have it.

Dan from Catonsville, MD

Merry Christmas to all! This time of year brings up great memories like the Packers defeating the Vikings for the NFC North crown last year and the quote from the Inbox, "Horns in the first quarter taillights in the fourth quarter!" Go PACK Go!

A true Christmas classic…and we spoke it into existence.

Ryan from Colfax, WI

Wes, how soon before the return of your "Good Morning!" ritual? I sure do miss reading those to start off the Inbox. Merry Christmas to you, Spoff and your families!

The first Inbox I write after it's safe for fans to return to Lambeau Field.

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