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Inbox: It's time to lock in and fight

A keen sense of awareness often brings out the best in a person and a team

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RB AJ Dillon

Cindy from Jackson, WI

When do the Packers play next?

Next year.

Tyler from Stetsonville, WI

For the first time this season, I find myself nervous for a game all week. I guess that means the game means something, which is always what you want as a fan come January. I think this team *can* beat our neighbors to the west and I hope they do and look good doing so! A W is a W, so I don't really care how it comes. To that point: How are Keisean Nixon and Christian Watson looking for Sunday afternoon? They'll play a huge role in this one should they both play.

Nervous energy is positive energy if channeled properly. It means you have something to lose and much to gain. Heightened stakes raise cognizance, and a keen sense of awareness often brings out the best in a person and a team. So, it's time to lock in and fight. Nixon and Watson didn't practice Wednesday. The Packers sure could use both this Sunday.

Sue from Tomah, WI

Good morning, gentlemen. Would you please recap which teams need to lose, etc., to continue the Packers' trip to the playoffs? I thank you.

Tom from Douglassville, PA

Who are you worried about more, the Vikings or the Lions?

Whoever is next.

Scott from Hayward, WI

Here is my formula to win: Disrupt Kirk Cousins' passing tempo by jamming the receivers at the line of scrimmage, tackle clean and swarm to the ball, win the turnover battle by protecting the ball, win time of possession with 150 yards rushing. control field position with better special-teams play, smash them in the mouth right away and don't stop, and get loud Lambeau! Yours?

That's quite the grocery list, Scott, but everything starts with containing Cousins and Justin Jefferson. The Packers can't let those two guys beat them like they did in the opener. Cousins, in particular, has played so well in this series with Green Bay. He's a much better quarterback than fans like to give him credit for. The defense needs to get home, generate some more takeaways, and neutralize Jefferson to the best of its ability. Offensively, I think the Packers can get the job done against a Vikings defense that isn't exactly peaking.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Wes, if you could lock in one of these for Sunday, which would it be?

1) Jefferson held to less than six catches and 100 yards.

2) Watson and Doubs combine for 150 yards and two TDs.

3) 150 yards rushing for the Packers.

4) Plus-two turnover differential for the Packers.

5) Four sacks for the Packers' D.

6) 60% conversion rate on third down for the Packers.

I'll take the turnovers. The Packers overcame Miami's pass productivity due largely to takeaways and third-down defense. Minnesota is deep and talented enough to win this game even if Jefferson is held beneath the threshold you presented. So, I'd take the takeaways, turn them into points and turn those points into a win.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

I think the key to winning against the Vikings is moving the chains on offense and avoiding turnovers. Although successful long passes from Rodgers have been pretty rare this year, a couple may be needed to keep the Vikings honest. The onus to keep the chains moving will be on our offensive line. If the Packers end up having to punt a lot, I don't like our chances.

The Packers need long, sustained drives with a few explosive plays mixed in. The O-line helped make that happen in Miami, even after Yosh Nijman left the game. I don't know how the O-line will shake out Sunday but both David Bakhtiari and Njiman were practicing on Wednesday. That was good to see.

Richard from Greenwich, NY

ALIEN LIZARD BLOCKS! My reaction to clip of Lazard's 3-for-1 block in the Dolphins game.

The Packers can move bodies, man. Marcedes Lewis and Allen Lazard are arguably the two best at their respective positions. It's cool to see Lazard get his flowers, too. It takes more than just catches and touchdowns to be a starting receiver in this offense. You gotta do it all.

Jeremiah from Madison, WI

Not to give love to our NFC North opponent, but do you think Justin Jefferson is being overlooked as an MVP contender?

Possibly. As I talked about last year, though, it seems like the Associated Press voters have conceded the MVP award to the "best quarterback," while the NFL Offensive Player of the Year is now the "best skill-position player" award.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Since gambling is finally legal at Bushwood, I'd like to place a bet. Aaron Rodgers has his best game of the season, and the Packers win a close one with a walk-off field goal from Mason Crosby!

That would be quite a dramatic way for Crosby to put a capstone on his 257th consecutive regular-season game. As much as I love suspense, I also wouldn't mind a game that's a little easier on the old ticker. The Packers have had some real nailbiters this year. That's not always great with those of us who work with their fingertips.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The Packers have been notorious for slow starts at home this season. Their first-quarter scoring average of 2.0 points ranks 30th in the league. What's your recipe for a fast start against the explosive Vikings?

Green Bay has had some slow starts this season on both sides of the ball, but it's worth mentioning the Packers often defer after winning the opening coin toss. That's played into Green Bay scoring 102 points in the second quarter compared to 60 in the first. Like I said, the Packers need more long offensive drives like they've had during their three-game win streak and the defense needs to strike fast. It's not fancy but that's how you win.

Casey from Madison, WI

Hello Insiders, what is the record for most points scored by a Packers team at home in January? Also, who was the opponent and what was the date?

Green Bay beat the Arizona Cardinals 49-24 on Jan. 2, 2000. The game was well in-hand, but the Packers needed to keep scoring because of potential playoff tiebreakers.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Good morning, Wes! Sometimes those things that don't seem positive turn out to be blessings in disguise. Devonte Wyatt playing seldom early, to the chagrin of many Packer fans, may be that blessing. Could it be that he will become Mr. January to Kenny Clark's Mr. December?

I feel for Dean Lowry. He's been such a durable, accountable veteran, but this is why the Packers signed Jarran Reed and drafted Devonte Wyatt and T.J. Slaton the last two offseasons. A defensive line is more than two "starters." Reed had a big game on Sunday and Wyatt looks more comfortable in the defense, which is allowing his natural ability to show up. As much as Slaton likely will absorb most of Lowry's run-down snaps, I'd expect Wyatt to be more involved in the nickel and third-down defense. Wyatt was hoping to get more playing time when Bill Huber and I talked to him two weeks ago. Now, the rookie gets his wish.

Check out photos of Packers fans removing snow out of the Lambeau Field bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, ahead of Sunday's Week 17 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

Kevin from Castle Rock, CO

What's your view on the difference in utilization of Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt? Is Walker's playing time more predicated on lack of depth at the position? Or was Wyatt just not as ready to go right out of college? Given both were first-round picks, I would have expected Wyatt to see more time on the field.

I wouldn't say lack of depth. Two years ago, Krys Barnes was Green Bay's starting "Mike" linebacker for an entire season. But the Packers' coaches talked earlier in the year about how they identified Walker as a Year 1 starter during the offseason program. I think Walker's talent and football IQ just made it a no-brainer to get him on the field right away. Wyatt was seen more as a long-term investment, similar to how the Packers approached Rashan Gary's development in 2019. After signing Reed in March, I think everyone understood Green Bay was going to lean on its three veteran D-lineman this year while Wyatt and Slaton continue to learn the ropes.

Bob from Wellington, CO

I wish I knew five things regarding new WR Bo Melton.

Well, here's at least one thing. Sorry, I'm gonna make you watch our "Three Things" video to get it. But here's a freebie: Melton has been playing the drums since he was 2 years old; self-taught. His father, who's a pastor, purchased him some drums when Melton was little and he fell in love with them.

Christopher from Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Entering Week 17, we know the Packers' defense is opportunistic but also struggles against the run. How likely would a deep playoff run go knowing our defense is susceptible?

In 2006, Indianapolis had the worst run defense, in both yards allowed and yards per attempt, in the NFL and still won the Super Bowl. So, everything is relative. In other words, a restaurant is judged on how good its entire menu is – not just the Caesar salad.

Mike from Orange City, IA

Is Aaron Rodgers' thumb all healed?

Rodgers no longer is on the injury report with the rib injury, but the thumb is still listed. It's probably in as good of shape as it's gonna be until the offseason. Rodgers sat out of practice Wednesday with a knee injury, but he should be back today.

Dennis from Appleton, WI

It's always interesting to see which front-leading teams will rest portions of their roster in the upcoming games as long as it won't impact their payoff standings.

Same here. Because I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. In Philly, however, Jalen Hurts' shoulder injury might have taken the decision out of the Eagles' wings, though.

Clem from La Crosse, WI

Apparently, Nixon has indicated he'd like a shot at being a slot receiver. Playing offense or defense and special teams is the norm but has there ever been any one in the Super Bowl era to play all three?

Deion Sanders, Charles Woodson, and Devin Hester are three names that come to mind. I'm sure there's more, especially closer to the advent of the Super Bowl.

Tom from Burlington, WI

Mike and Wes, do you believe in the proverbial "football gods"? It seemed like they were quick to balance things out after the interception on the DPI non-call against Allen Lazard.

I don't know if I'd cite the football gods in that instance. I think it was more of the officials going, "Yeah, we botched a couple calls there and leveled the playing field a bit." For whatever reason, Lazard just never seems to get the benefit of the doubt on DPI calls. Maybe it's because he's a big and strong receiver but it feels like he never draws those whistles.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022.

Terry from Waco, TX

The refs on Sunday seemed to be letting the defensive backfield and WRs play a physical game. Any insight into the crew this Sunday and their tendencies?

The day I start breaking down tendencies of officials in Insider Inbox is the day I begin looking for new work. I know the Packers have Carl Cheffers' crew on Sunday. Hopefully, that's a good thing?

Juan from Miami, FL

It seems that in big games the officials let the players play without calling PIs for every little touch or grab. Because it sure did seem that way Sunday. To me, it looked like two blatant PIs that were not called against the Fins. Again, I predict a great victory for our Packers on Sunday...Resilience, I say Resilience...GPG

Let 'em play…unless it's the fourth quarter, Clete Blakeman's field judge is on task and a trip to the Super Bowl is hanging in the balance. Then, you remember which pocket you stuffed your flag in.

Mark from Savannah, GA

Wes, after watching "A Christmas Carol" and "It's a Wonderful Life" last week, I have a spring-summer challenge for you while it's on my mind. Pick a major event in Packers history, perhaps the hiring of Vince Lombardi, and write a piece on life in Green Bay during the fall each year if that event had not happened. Some of your pieces I have seen on this website have been among the best I have ever read anywhere in my eight decades. Paint a picture as only you can. Have a great New Year!

That's a really interesting idea. I tend to leave Packers history to Cliff but maybe something to consider down the road. Frankly, it's been difficult to find time to work on projects this regular season. I didn't write nearly as many longform stories as I wanted to this season for a myriad of reasons.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, will you and Mike take time to energize on Sunday by visiting the new Packers Perks Donut House in the Lambeau Field Atrium and picking up your free Kwik Trip Glazers?

Oh, I already got there. It is fantastic.

David from Janesville, WI

Gents, the recombobulation area is at Mitchell in Milwaukee. I've recombobulated there a number of times myself.

Haha…Spoff set the world ablaze with this one today. But hey, ain't no recombobulation party like an MKE recombobulation party.

Brandon from Summerville, SC

Wes, I can fully get behind you not liking beer or cheese, but I don't know if I can accept the blasphemy of never watching "Die Hard." How else are you going to know the perfect phrase to say next time Spoff tries to steal your lunch and walks into your perfectly planned trap? "Yippee Ki-Yay..."

Nah, that's what I have "Caddyshack" for.

Curtis from Corvallis, OR

01/01, Week 17,

The fish ran aground at the Rock,

A playoff game, far from a lock,

Lambeau will host Vikes from the North,

Expect a game, close in the fourth,

Hope for a lead with nil on the clock,

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Look who's back. Hopefully, Curtis' return is a harbinger of big things to come. Have a good Thursday, people.

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