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Inbox: It should have been worth more than it was

Green Bay will have to play its best game of the season at Minnesota

Packers DL Dean Lowry
Packers DL Dean Lowry

Leeroy from Jenkins, KY

I can tell that you guys were hovering over the "SUBMIT" button with your "Packers clinch playoff spot" article as the Rams game was finishing. Playoff season is even more interesting for the journalists.

Yeah, the Cowboys made it easy. Wrote that little shorty late in the third quarter – between my game recap and editorial – so we could post it the moment it was official. No nail-biting involved, unlike the team we cover.

Eric from Reedsburg, WI

What was going through your mind on that last play of the game?

I thought the Bears were going to score. They had it set up to the right once Horsted got the ball. As I wrote in my postgame editorial, if the rookie tight end pitches it to Robinson at the 10 instead of taking that extra step or two, I think the Bears are in the end zone and the Packers have to stop a two-point play to avoid overtime.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Did some of our defense think the game was over when the lateral back to Trubisky hit the ground? Seemed like a few of them just "ole'd" him as he kept running down the field.

Funny you should say that, because there were similar murmurs in the press box that the play was over when the first lateral wasn't clean. I knew it was backward and still a live ball. That play and the ridiculous lateraling at the end of the first half need to be discussed sternly in the film room today.

Gardner from Circle Pines, MN

11-3! This team keeps finding a way to win. I'll take that identity any day! Meanwhile the 49ers lose to Atlanta and the Vikings still have not defeated a team with a winning record. It's a tough league each and every week.

Take nothing for granted and make no apologies. The Packers will have their hands full with the Vikings. I don't care about whom the Vikings have or haven't beaten. On the road, in that noisy building, Green Bay will have to play its best game of the season to win it. Yes, I know, thank you, Captain Obvious.

Salman from Linden, NJ

Back in the dance! On the OT on Fox I heard Michael Strahan and Tony Gonzalez mention how the Packers aren't winning in the sexiest of ways but they are winning. And that if Rodgers and the Packers can get hot, it's a team to worry about along with the weather in GB. Do you feel that everyone else has been overlooking the Packers because of the way we've won? All the analysts and pundits seem to dismiss us. I don't care if it's sexy or ugly, just win baby!

I don't care what the pundits are saying, positive or negative. I go by what I see with my own eyes, and I see a team that has had opportunities the last two weeks to take its game to another level of sharpness and efficiency and hasn't done it. Are they capable? Absolutely. The Packers were in position to dominate the Bears in the first half and put them away in the second half. Neither happened. It's still out there for them. I'm repeating what I said last week – whether they can get there will determine where this season goes.

Rexy from Eastbourne, England

Not pretty but an important job got done. Now to focus on a bye and the playoffs going through Lambeau.

Rodgers' thoughts from the podium in Atlanta three years ago have stuck with me, about how this team needs to get playoff games at home. Their opportunity to do so is in front of them. Beat the Vikings and the outside narrative regarding this team changes dramatically.

James from Orlando, FL

Good morning, I'm glad we won that one. Please forgive me for asking this question, but near the end of the game, I had a moment I questioned why we ran a pass play from the Chicago 28 on third down when it seemed a run play would have kept us in field-goal range?

I think it's easy to second-guess that call when disaster strikes. If the Packers had plowed ahead for two yards and then missed a 43-yard field goal, everyone would be critical of settling and not staying aggressive. Execute the play. The Packers didn't do that in numerous situations they had chances to score.

Chris from Minneapolis, MN

In his postgame comments, it sounded like Rodgers was specifically speaking to all the armchair film analysts with very detailed breakdowns of numerous plays. Even if he is missing on a few plays on the field, I don't think he is missing on anything in his mind.

Those descriptions are reminders of everything that he processes out there. They're also reminders that it's a team game. Rodgers had his miscues on Sunday, so did some teammates. The other guys get paid, too, and not everything is going to go right all the time. They just have to get to a point where when they're in position and things don't go right, they can still kick a field goal and get some points. Just that small step could make a world of difference in how this team looks.

Charles from Omaha, NE

I had no idea Col. Jessup worked for Insider Inbox.

We reserve the right to call him to the stand when we must respond to the questions of the "galactically stupid."

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

Why do we respect II? Because you sit behind your screen and say "nobody is going to misinform you tonight. Not on my watch." Thank you.

Wes and I don't share a lot of favorite references, but that movie is definitely one of them, and there were so many fantastic replies to it I had to include a couple. OK, time to carry on.

Robert from Verona, WI

I really didn't believe that Tyler Ervin could improve the anemic return game, but I'm a believer now. Every yard counts, so I'm excited about what this could mean down the stretch.

The Packers finally have a field-position weapon for their offense. It's been a while since anyone could really say that.

Greg from Belvidere, IL

Dean Lowry, my man! What a great interception!

Incredible reaction and hands he showed on that play. It should have been worth more than it was. Instead of a two-score lead, the Packers only gained about 2½ minutes and 40 yards of field position from it. A shame, really.

Ken from Wolcott, CT

When a team makes the postseason, how much do players get paid? And do they all get the same amount or can the position they play can earn them more than the next? Also who pays the players?? The team or does the money come from the NFL?

Players are paid postseason shares based on the round(s) they play in and how far they advance. The league pays the players because the ticket revenue from playoff games goes to the league.

Mario from Kettleman City, CA

I read a report that stated MLB will no longer test its players for THC. How many years before the NFL does the same?

I would expect that'll be part of the next CBA, but the owners are going to get something for the concession.

Todd from Honea Path, SC

Can everyone (the cable analysts) shut up now about the Pack winning ugly after the 49ers lost to the Falcons? If that doesn't scream it's a week-to-week league nowadays I don't know what does.

There are games every week that prove it. The "not who you play, when you play 'em" thing applies often, too, and what's even trickier about that one is you never really know when it's a good time or a bad time to play someone. It looked like a great time for the Rams to play the Cowboys and keep themselves right in the thick of it. Turned out, not so much.

Andrew from Fullerton, CA

I can't decide my favorite visual II has provided: Vic leaning to Spoff to say the "baloney" stops now. Spoff, Hod, and Larry performing the "Unscripted" opening song. Spoff stealing Hod's lunch. Wes giving Spoff smelling salts before a head butt is up there!

Wes wasn't feeling well Sunday so I backed off on the head butt.

Paul from Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Great win over Bears and now on to Vikings where it will be one of the bigger games of the season, if not the biggest. MVS not hauling in that opening pass cost the team six points and probably cost him any further targets in that game and possibly beyond. Of the current roster players, most notably Lazard and Kumerow, which receiver is most capable of stretching defenses as a deep threat? I'm not sure who is the fastest receiver, but the Pack may need a legitimate deep threat to keep the Viking defense honest.

Lazard can win deep one-on-one, and I think Adams can win deep even against safety help. I wouldn't rule out Jones either, with the right matchup. Kumerow had great YAC on his big play Sunday. The guys who are making things happen when their number is called are the guys to rely upon.

Nate from Naples, FL

My first response to Fangio's idea of eliminating divisions was similar to Mike's. "No thanks. Terrible idea." But then I asked myself why it's a terrible idea. Certainly we'd lose some tradition, but is that enough? Would we lose parity? Maybe, but maybe a team like New England doesn't get in every year if they're playing outside their division more. It doesn't seem to be an unfair solution. Could you shed some more light?

I just don't like the idea of seeing the Bears, Vikings and Lions come to Lambeau only every other year, or just as often as anyone else in the NFC. I like the divisional alignments with the schedule corresponding appropriately. If that makes me old-fashioned, so be it.

Lambeau Field hosted a Week 15 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, the 200th in the rivalry.

Steve from Ashland, WI

Mike, your continuing support for mediocrity amazes me. If a team can't finish at LEAST .500 they have no business being in the playoffs period. Don't reward poor performance. Not everyone gets to play.

That's not it, and I'm the last person you'll find in favor of participation trophies. It's about tolerating an anomaly for the sake of a system that works very well the vast majority of the time, rather than overhauling the system due to rarities or shifting it to the whims of the day. If the winner of the NFC East does not get to nine wins this season, it'll be just the fifth time ('14 Panthers, '10 Seahawks with seven wins each, '11 Broncos and '08 Chargers with eight) in the 18 years of the current alignment that a division champ will be .500 or below. That's five of 144 total division winners since 2002. I'd much rather have those playoff entries once in a blue moon than a 10-6 division champ getting aced out by an extra 11-5 wild-card team someday. Those who want to go solely by record would have rendered that thrilling '13 Packers-Bears finale at Soldier Field null and void, because Arizona was 10-6 that year. Again, I say no thanks.

Warren from Lutz, FL

Hello, Kenny Clark is making a difference at the right time. Who else would you like to step up for the playoff push?

It's incredible that Clark now has more than half of his career sacks (eight of 15½) in the month of December. Jaire Alexander has been playing pretty solid football and a big play or two from him would go a long way. Turnovers have always been a part of any playoff runs the Packers have made in my time here.

Mike from Merton, WI

Mike, hate to be a pest, but since you are such a big baseball fan, I'd love to get your take on Simba finally going to Cooperstown? I suppose not much as you probably never saw him play given you were likely in diapers at the time.

Oh, no, I was in fifth grade when the Brewers went to the World Series, and I specifically recall in my youth seeing Simmons hit a homer at County Stadium. I hadn't given his case much thought until all the publicity this year, but it's clear he was rated just behind the "big three" catchers of his era (Bench, Carter, Fisk). Yet when you look at how offensive numbers at the position overall have declined since then, it puts his career in a different light. The honor is well deserved.

Graeme from Tucson, AZ

And just like that, we're back in the playoffs. With a first-season coach, no less! Yet, I can't figure out whether we truly deserve to be there or not because we still seem to keep leaving plays out there on the field and limping over the line. Can you help me out?

Speaking of deserved. Deserve to be there? The Packers are one of five teams in the NFL with 11 or more wins. They absolutely deserve to be there. The rest is about how far they're going to get.

Dave from Nome, AK

Great win over the Bears. Next Monday night would be a good time for that complete game we fans have been hoping for all season.

T-minus seven days and counting. Happy Monday.