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Inbox: It's Green Bay vs. Everybody

Jordan Love and Aaron Jones have made for a formidable one-two punch behind that offensive line

QB Jordan Love and teammates
QB Jordan Love and teammates

Dave from Comer, GA

One question: Why not us?

One of eight with a chance to be great.

Mark from Angels Camp, CA

On San Francisco sports talk radio several local and national pundits have said there is no way the Packers can overcome the Niners' superior talent for 60 minutes of football. Many confidently predicted a blowout. I'm reminded of seeing a respected former NBA player and head coach comment on last year's opening round of playoffs with eighth-seeded Miami vs. top-seeded Milwaukee saying the same thing. And nobody thought young Cassius Clay could beat Sonny Liston. I like our chances.

I'm literally reminded of last week in Dallas. I promise you this team couldn't care less about what the pundits think. They're headstrong, ready to take on anyone. Overlook the Packers at your own peril.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

Wes, I greatly enjoyed your piece on how Matt LaFleur’s decision to not defer and take the ball to start the game has seemingly helped to turn the Packers' season around. I might note that one other advantage of that strategy is that, assuming the opposing teams continue to do the opposite, it gives the Packers some certainty as to how the game is going to start out. No matter who wins the coin toss, it's highly likely the offense is going out there first.

Thanks for checking it out. Should the Packers lose the toss this evening, San Francisco has a choice to make. Kansas City deferred in Week 13 and Green Bay answered with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended with the 1-yard play-action TD pass to Ben Sims. More important than a flip of the coin, the Packers have amped up the aggression over the past two months. By starting fast, Green Bay is dictating the pace and all three phases are better for it. To beat the 49ers, the Packers have to take it to them for four quarters.

Lynn from Riverside, CA

Reading your comments on Romeo Doubs not overly celebrating when he scores brought to mind the old Paul Brown adage: "Act like you've been there before."

Jordy Nelson carried himself the same way and I'd say it worked out pretty well for him.

Barry from Green Bay, WI

Not so much a question for you but a statement: Win or lose against San Francisco, for the Packers it will be win-win. The playoff experience will be so beneficial for years to come for this young team. The mindset tomorrow should be to not let the past be our future (as in 1-4 against the 49ers of late). Go Pack!

No question the experience will pay lasting dividends, but the only thing the Packers are thinking about right now is keeping this late-season Cinderella run going. No day but today. It's Green Bay vs. Everyone.

Jeff from La Crosse, WI

Gentlemen, teams that have succeeded against San Francisco this season have grabbed an early lead and played from ahead, forcing the 49ers to lean on Brock Purdy and the passing game to chase points. How much emphasis do you think the Packers are putting on stopping Christian McCaffrey from getting those big gains and setting the tone?

That has to be a core emphasis. It's a tall order to stop McCaffery completely but a path to victory is there if you can limit the explosive plays. Again, we're talking about the favorite to capture NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors. Bottling up the run and getting hands on Purdy's passes would go a long way in Green Bay pulling off the so-called upset.

Robert from Elkhorn, WI

Not so much of a question, but an observation. While reading and watching the WYMM article, I noticed on the Dontayvion Wicks TD, that while not having any catches, Jayden Reed was also wide open for a TD on that play. Also Reed has a great attitude, so glad he's a Packer! I got to see him throw first pitch at "Miller Park" a well.

There's something special brewing in that receiver room and only half of it is what we see on the field. To a man, I think all those wideouts would tell you that with great continuity comes great results. With a quarterback like Jordan Love, your opportunity is going to come soon enough.

Jake from Decatur, GA

As Packers fans, we've seen firsthand how the No. 1 seed can be an albatross as much as an advantage. But there's no way anyone could convince me Shanahan will not have his team ready to play tonight. Probably gonna have to win this one the old-fashioned way, and I've got two words why the Packers will: Jordan Love. No disrespect to Purdy, who's great, but our guy is greater, and I'm not going to start betting against him now.

As I also wrote in that story about fast starts, Love and Purdy have been the two hottest QBs in the league over the last two months. This game very well could come down to who plays better and minimizes mistakes. In that scenario, I like the Packers' chances. Like you said, Love has been on a heater and who's to say it needs to end?

Bob from Jensen Beach, FL

Wes, do you know how many plays included Christian Watson last week? Was he targeted more than once, or did he act more as a decoy? If he's back to normal speed, I'd love to see a deep attempt to him early to help open up their defense.

Watson played 23 offensive snaps but was much more than just a decoy. One thing we neglected to talk about in the lead-up to the second-year receiver's return was his blocking prowess. Yes, Watson stresses a defense vertically but he's also one of Green Bay's best blocking receivers and was utilized as such in bunch formations in Dallas. With no apparent setbacks, I'd expect Watson to be even more involved this evening.

Steve from Ellison Bay, WI

Many favorite memories were listening to Jim and Max on the radio. Lots of laughs to be sure, but one of Max's unforgettable nuggets was his championship teams were veterans who simply didn't make mistakes. I don't think there are any rookies who will take the field tomorrow night. Do you?

Not anymore. Their second season has already started.

Al from Green Bay, WI

No way. The Packers can't beat the Cowboys at their place. But they did. The naysayers are back this week, but for Packers fans, there are reasons to believe! 1) J-Love and A-Jones – proving to be a lethal combination. 2) The O-line has been stellar. 3) Young receiving weapons are healthy and dangerous. 4) How 'bout that D? 5) The underdog role suits this team – now winners of the last four games as underdogs. 6) Team chemistry and belief. GPG!

Jordan Love and Aaron Jones have made for a formidable one-two punch behind that offensive line. As much as we've talked about Purdy and Co., the Packers have a plethora of playmakers for the 49ers to keep tabs on. It should be a highly entertaining football game.

Steve from Middletown, KY

Good morning! We all know SF is loaded. Their offense is talented and explosive. Guess what, our offense is talented and explosive, too. I'd go as far as to say the offenses will potentially cancel each other. To me, the difference will probably come down to the defenses, with a chance of special teams mixed in. Will the win come down to turnovers? Beat the 49ers! GPG!

Turnover differential and time of possession. Protect the ball, take the ball away and extend drives. Daniel Whelan isn't feeling the greatest. Make his night easy.

Ricardo from Ventura, CA

I just watched the 1996 NFC Divisional playoff game against the 49ers for some good vibes. Besides turnovers, wouldn't it be something if our special teams were the difference-maker for the upset? I mean, if you're going to break a seemingly never-ending bad streak against an opponent, why not break it with something you'd never thought of getting production from?

That would be a satisfying retort considering a blocked punt for a touchdown was the difference in Green Bay's 13-10 loss to San Francisco two years ago.

Dan from Richmond, VA

My heartrate doubled when I saw Daniel Whelan's name on the injury report, and then it tripled when I read that we have no other punter on the roster (I assume this includes the practice squad). So, what exactly would we do if Whelan can't go, whether it's during these playoffs or any other time? Do we have anyone else with any punting experience at all? How would we "crack on" without our Irish lad?

I'd expect Whelan to play tonight, but the Packers also will have their contingency plans in place. To your question, Green Bay does not have a punter on the practice squad and has not brought one in as of this writing.

Michael from Tarpon Springs, FL

To my fellow Packers, not a question just a thought. I am 69 years young and have been a Packers fan since I was 9. My comment is this: Watching Matt LaFleur's locker-room speeches after the game are amazing. I truly believe he is a leader of men and I believe the Lombardi spirit is all over him. His speeches are powerful, and you can see the LOVE coming out of him to his team which I believe is powering this young team. Mike and Wes, you guys are great. Win or lose Saturday, we are witnessing a new dynasty.

You can feel the passion and energy in those locker-room videos, too. You never take winning for granted in this league, but victories this season just have a different feel to them. Maybe it's because this is the youngest team to win a playoff game since the merger, but this journey has been special. Hopefully, we still have some miles to go.

Bob from Bella Vista, AR

If I remember correctly, after Jordan Love was drafted, he said that he was sort of a Brett Favre-type QB. Does that have to with improvising? If he did give that self-assessment back then, would he say the same thing today or would anyone else say that? Would you say that?

I was saying that, too. But Love has protected the football very well, especially during the second half of the season. The parallel I've seen between Favre and Love is the young QB's willingness to push the ball downfield. Love trusts his receivers and gives guys a chance to make plays.

Gary from Chippewa Falls, WI

What do Ron Wolf, Ted Thompson, and Brian Gutekunst have in common? They chose a quarterback when it was not popular as their defining moment. I don't understand how businessmen owners do not consider the Packers when looking for GM or personnel directors.

That also left me scratching my head. Green Bay has one of the deepest contingents of talent evaluators in the NFL. But I have a lot of respect and appreciation for the job Gutekunst has done guiding the ship. At some point, all great GMs are forced to make "the tough call." Wolf and Thompson both did and Gutekunst followed in their path when he traded up to draft Love in 2020. Like Spoff said, Gutekunst had the courage of his convictions, and that gutsy move may have set up this franchise for years to come.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

I was wondering if Lukas Van Ness ever sacked Brock Purdy when they both matriculated in my home state of Iowa?

In what was just his second college game, Van Ness had a pass deflection but no sacks against Purdy and Iowa State in September 2021. The Hawkeyes picked off Purdy three times, though, in a 27-17 victory over the Cyclones.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

How are the players on the injury report list determined? Take Quay Walker for example. He was a "full participant" all week and was not given a designated status. Why is he listed at all?

Walker is listed because he's been treated for injury this week. The Packers are one of the league's more detailed teams when it comes to how they handle their injury report.

Jeff from Pleasant Prairie, WI

Will the defense continue to improve its tackle-below-the-waist technique in this game, or allow major yards after catch and long runs against the Niners?

That depends on how many players are running to the ball. Solo tackles are welcome, but assists are needed to slow down the 49ers. You can't give this team second chances.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

I just feel like for the Pack to win, they are going to need a defensive or special-teams touchdown. Or both.

And the earlier, the better.

Lynn from Butler, IN

Is the money paid for playoff games added to the salary cap?

Only if there are playoff-related escalators written into a player's contract (e.g. Joe Flacco having a $1 million incentive if Cleveland won the AFC and $2 million if the Browns won the Super Bowl). But the actual payment for the game itself, no.

Florian from Kronach, Germany

What will happen to Kenneth Odumegwu after this season? Will he have another IPP year with the Packers?

This is the first time the Packers have had an allocated player from International Player Program, so I'm not sure how that works once the season ends. Odumegwu was assigned to Green Bay, but I'm sure the Packers could sign him to a futures deal if they want to retain his rights for 2024.

Luke from Onalaska, WI

With the growing excitement for being in the divisional round, what have traffic numbers looked like on the website? Up substantially? Do the Insiders feel "gameday pressure" to live up to the hype?

I'm not gonna go into the numbers, but let's just say the cereal has been flowing in Spoff's cubicle.

Josh from Adams, WI

I guess my pep talk worked last week, so I'll say it again...we are all still 0-0, we still have our chip and our chair. With one game behind us, I like our chances even more.

The 49ers offer a supreme test, but these are the teams you have to beat to be the best. The Packers picked off a big one in Dallas last week. Let's see if they can make the GMFB panel look silly again with a win in Santa Clara.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, you and Mike have plodded with this team through the potholes and pinnacles of the season. Thank you for your perseverance, patience, and positivity. Have a fantastic time in San Francisco and bring home a win! GPG!

It's been a season for the ages and it ain't over yet.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Dallas falls, Aaron Jones and the Packers continue ownership of AT&T Stadium, and the dream lives
Now on to San Francisco and the NFC's best as the bar rises yet again
The 49ers have ended Green Bay's season the last four meetings in the playoffs
To be the best you'll need to beat the best
Your best required the full 60 minutes, Green Bay
Keep our dreams alive, Green and Gold

With everything to gain, these young Packers press on. Enjoy the game, everyone.

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