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Inbox: It's time for some December football

Stopping Saquon Barkley is the first part of the puzzle Sunday

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

The question from Dave of East Burke, VT, which Spoff answered so adroitly made me realize why I moved to Florida. Brain freeze is a terrible thing.

The "too much turkey" line cracked me up. Hopefully, you guys all survived Thanksgiving without having to do any math. Good morning!

Bill from Hillsville, VA

Talking about folks with their arrows pointing up, how blessed are the Packers for having ML at the helm? It is refreshing to see his particular blend of enthusiasm and expertise affect the team. I see potential for another lengthy run of successful football under his leadership. What say you?

I keep saying this but if I would have told you at the beginning of the year that the Packers would be 8-3 through Week 12, I'm sure everyone would have taken that. The Packers have banked eight wins with the potential of earning five more. If Green Bay stays on this trend, it'll be positioned to play its best football in January.

Marc from Califon, NJ

Good morning, my son and I will be heading out Sunday morning to help turn Giant stadium into Lambeau East! I thought the Giants played scrappy against the Bears and did not give up. With the weather appearing to be absolutely dismal, I am assuming we will see a heavy dose of Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones bootlegging. Anyone else concern you? Also, I expect Jones/Williams to carry the ball 40 times! This will be an old-fashioned slugfest. Make sure you wave to us fighting the elements!

If the forecast remains the same, it looks like it will be a cold, wet quagmire at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, the Packers have a mermaid on their roster in Jamaal Williams. Stopping Saquon Barkley is the first part of the puzzle. You can't let him get his mojo back. It's time for some December football.

Albert from Green Bay, WI

Hi II, I'm no stats guy...but if Aaron Jones is the real bell cow we sell him as, why is he only getting 57 yards per contest?

Because the definition you're using for bell cow is archaic. For starters, you're only counting his rushing yards per game – not his receiving. The times are changing and so too is the definition of a "bell cow." It also helps the Packers have another solid back in Williams.

James from Chertsey, Surrey

Over the next three games, if you had to pick, what do you consider to be more important – the offense and Rodgers "getting hot" or the defense cutting out the large quantity of chunk plays it gives up?

It's Rodgers getting hot. The effect Rodgers has on the entire roster is without equal. When he's on fire, the team's on fire. No question the Packers need to reduce the number of chunk plays they've allowed on defense, but Rodgers is the force bringing everything together.

Dave from Germantown, TN

Your article says Jared Veldheer is on the commissioner's exempt/permission list. Is there any chance he could play on Sunday? If not, when might he be eligible to play?

Veldheer won't play Sunday. This isn't baseball. He has to get his body back and learn the playbook. That's what the permission list was originally intended for. His addition is an insurance policy for the weeks and months ahead.

Michael from Farmington, MN

The article on our new tackle emphasized that he's played both tackle positions. Is there significant difference between the left and right tackle positions? If so, is the difference related to left- vs right-handed QBs?

The tackle position is critical for obvious reasons, but especially when it comes to blocking the quarterback's blind side (left tackle for right-handed QBs and right tackle for lefties). The principles for playing both spots are the same but it takes constant reps to hone the muscle memory of each spot. Veldheer has started 91 games at left tackle and 21 at right tackle, so having experience at both is valuable.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

December is the time when teams need to be playing their best football. For a very healthy Packer team, that needs to happen the next five games. For comparison, what do you think have been the best game/games the Pack have played this season? Overall, offense, and defense? Thanks Wes.

I guess Oakland would be the best overall and offensive game, which included Aaron Rodgers' perfect passer rating. The best defensive game was Chicago. The Packers don't win if the defense doesn't hold the Bears to three points. It also was the coming-out party for both Smiths.

Agrim from Shakopee, MN

Good morning! I know in the lead-up to the San Francisco game, both you and Mike stressed the difficulty of the turnaround from a West Coast trip to an East Coast trip in back-to-back weeks. How tolling is this for the players, and is the team doing anything different to minimize the effects this may have on the players?

The Packers did everything possible to rid the players of jet lag. Players had mandatory lifting early in the week but otherwise had off Monday and Tuesday to get their bodies back. The team also practiced later in the day Wednesday and didn't put the pads on this week (you have to practice without pads three times in the final six weeks).

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, league-wide, have the kickers gotten worse or have the mistakes just been publicized more? There sure seems to be a lot of missed FGs and extra points this year.

I'm not going to spend the time adding up all the makes and attempts but there are 18 kickers with at least an 80-percent conversion rate (min. 10 attempts) this year and 13 under that mark. Comparatively, there were 26 kickers who made at least 80 percent of their field goals last year (minimum 15 attempts) and only four under 80 percent. So it would suggest kickers have been more off this year.

JR from East Moline, IL

If a wild-card team plays a division winner in the wild-card game, and the wild-card team has a better record, the game would still be played at the division winner's field, right? Because they have a higher seed?

Correct. Division winners host. Only way a wild-card team would host a playoff game is if the No. 5 seed meets the No. 6 seed in the NFC Championship Game.

Darrell from San Antonio, TX

II, sometimes I wonder how good the Packers could be if we had Casey Hayward Jr., Micah Hyde, Taysom Hill, and Jared Cook on this roster. We could fortify our special teams and the back end of the defense while providing playmakers for Rodgers and the offense. Not to mention allowing us to spend draft capital in other areas to improve the team in lieu of trying to fill those holes. My bad, we did have them and let them walk. Oh well, it was a nice thought anyway.

It must be fun to have all the answers.

Billy from Kenosha, WI

Given the brief time in Green Bay, Taysom Hill displayed his athletic ability. Now success in unconventional roles with N.O. beyond QB, it's amazing. In your honest opinion, does the current Packer management group have the ability and imagination to recognize this in folks?

If you want to complain about how Hill isn't a Packer – and so many of you do every time he picks up a yard – go right ahead. But don't start with this "Do the Packers have the imagination to recognize this ability?" stuff. They were the first on the Taysom Hill bandwagon. It was only after watching him play in a preseason game the Saints noticed him. Sure, the Packers swung and missed on trying to sneak Hill to the practice squad but they moved him around plenty during his summer in Green Bay.

Darren from Oklahoma, OK

I was moving too much to really spend time watching the Detroit game but I was really impressed with their rookie QB. Thoughts?

David Blough did well for what was asked of him as a third-string QB making his first start on a short week. You can't live on your undrafted rookie's arm, though. The Lions didn't have enough others step up to help Blough out.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

I got my lunch box using my Packers Perks points, but unfortunately, it doesn't say anything about the II or that Mike stole Wes's lunch :( Haven't you two had talk with the Pro shop yet?

Wouldn't it be cool if Spoff and I could get like a "Welcome Back Kotter"-style lunch box?

Tom from Sacramento, CA

Guys, I wanted to give a quick shout-out to Niners fans. After the loss, I had the mile-long walk of shame back to the parking lot (yes, it is that ridiculously long of a walk to parking) wearing my cheesehead, green and yellow overalls, and displaying my Green Bay tattoo on my right arm. Aside from one drunken fan, all I received were words of encouragement, pats on the back, and "we'll see you in a few months."

That is a kind gesture. Levi's Stadium is a cluster. It's a difficult parking lot to drive into and a very long walk to enter the stadium. It's a beautiful venue once you're in it, though.

Rodney from Zillah, WA

It was mentioned there are a few stadiums you wouldn't recommend wearing an opposing team's jersey to. What are the two or three most hostile stadiums in your opinion?

Philly, Oakland and Chicago.

Derek from Norton, KS

What if neither team loses on Monday night?

That's not bad, either. The Packers still maintain a half-game lead in the NFC North and are a ½ game closer to Seattle in a potential race for a first-round bye.

Scott from De Pere, WI

Wes, I know you have said that you'll always enjoy being a writer first. Outside of that, what other medium do you enjoy? Is there one you are still getting used to?

I'm pretty much used to all of them at this point, but I really enjoy doing radio. In my early years, I used to help out with John Maino and Nick Vitrano's show in Green Bay, which was a lot of fun, before doing hits on WSSP in Milwaukee three or four times a week with LeRoy Butler, Gary Ellerson, Ramie Makhlouf and Steve Fifer. I miss all four of those guys. Currently, I'm having a blast doing the pregame show with Dennis Krause, Mark Tauscher and Gabe Neitzel. I feel like I've really found my stride with that this year.

Joe from Las Vegas, NV

Thanks for the great insight and keeping fans on level ground. What is your take on the AFL going under again and what might it mean to the NFL?

That hurts my soul. One of the first beats I ever covered was the Green Bay Blizzard when it was in arenafootball2, which was a minor league affiliate of the original Arena Football League. The writing has been on the wall the past decade, but the AFL was the next best thing to the NFL for many years. It kept Justin McCray's football career afloat. So it is tough watching a secondary option close the doors.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Our good friend arrives tomorrow. We survived the baloney and the hamburger. Time for the steak. Happy December.

Enough with the turkey. Bring on the main course! Enjoy the game folks.