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Inbox: It won't be easy by any means, but Packers are ready to work for it

Preston Smith and Rashan Gary are two guys to watch Sunday

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Team huddle

Dar from Mansfield, TX

I'm musing today about what an II holiday party might look like: Spoff trying to sneak off to the den with Wes's food plate. Margeaux and Lori in the kitchen sharing succinct-but-delicious cookie recipes. Larry, by the fireplace, in a red and white bucket hat, using a telestrator to explain Santa's optimal route. Dean and Derek jousting over whether "'The Grinch" should be read as prose or a haiku. Doug trying to get everyone to come see the ruckus in the basement. Wes, what would you be up to?

I'm usually the guy eying up the dessert table. Spoff can have my day-old sandwich. I'll take Hanna Goral's Oreo dirt pudding any day.

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

The Packers now have a clear path. No need to be scoreboard watching; just take care of business one game at a time. This week is "ROAST THE RAVENS." GO PACK GO!

It won't be easy by any means, but the Packers are ready to work for it. Davante Adams mentioning the notion of "running the table" a couple weeks ago made me realize the Packers have done it before – not only in 2016 but also 2019 (five straight wins to end the regular season) and 2020 (six straight). To win four, however, the Packers must win on Sunday. Just beat the Ravens, baby. You can quoth me on it.

Dan from Catonsville, MD

I'm going to game on Sunday. I'm blessed to have tickets at the 30-yard line behind the Packers bench. Who is the Packers player to watch outside of AR to have the biggest impact on the game?

I think it's Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. Lamar Jackson didn't practice this week. Even if he plays, Jackson will be dealing with some discomfort in the ankle. It's going to be critical for Smith and Gary to rush smart, but rush effectively, against Jackson or Tyler Huntley. The Ravens have conceded 47 sacks this year, while the opposition has sniped 14 interceptions.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, on gameday, how will Lamar Jackson without team practice and a sprained ankle compare to Aaron Rodgers with no team practice and a broken toe?

You know what you're going to get from Rodgers for the most part, but I haven't the slightest clue as to how the Ravens will look. If Jackson doesn't play, this seems like a pretty elaborate ploy to give Green Bay more to think about. But if Jackson does go, what kind of shape will he be in?

Tom from Burlington, WI

Good Morning II, what has made the Ravens' defense so "unique" and for so long? They have a style; like everything else in the NFL, it's on tape. How do they consistently stay ahead of the curve?

Perennial All-Pros and Hall of Famers in the middle of the defense helped but I also think the scheme and brand of football Dean Pees and Rex Ryan promoted complemented the talent they had, and that still holds true today with Don Martindale. Baltimore defenses always have three constants – disciplined, aggressive linebackers and smash-mouth safeties.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

Do the changes in COVID protocols affect Kenny Clark's availability for Sunday?

Rich, I'm going to be 100% perfectly honest with you. I don't know. My confusion is confused.

Will from Milwaukee, WI

Good morning Wes, I hate to say it, but I feel really anxious about Kenny Clark not being available for this Ravens game. It feels like if the Packers don't get some of the other starters back, Clark really could be the (injury) straw that breaks the camel's back. Any recommended remedies for this Festivus game to reach serenity now?

Clark is one of the Packers' top five most important players right now, but if he can't go, I still think Green Bay's defensive line can stem the tide this week. That room is as healthy as it's been all season. Dean Lowry, Kingsley Keke, Tyler Lancaster and T.J. Slaton have what it takes to keep the pocket warm for Lamar Jackson, while also bottling up Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray. Having De'Vondre Campbell behind the front helps, too.

Jay from Altoona, WI

I am not too familiar with the Ravens' roster but I read that they are also injury-plagued. How does their injury situation compare to the Packers, who have been missing three key All-Pro players for virtually the entire season?

The Ravens are a hurting unit, especially in the secondary. Baltimore has 17 players on injured reserve and 16 currently on their injured list.

Ari from Chicago, IL

Hey Wes, I'm surprised Marquez Valdes-Scantling' (or is it MVS's?) name has not appeared as someone this team could count on to help out the special-team units. I feel like he kept a roster spot on this team in his rookie year largely due to the speed advantage he has in roles like gunner on punt coverage. Do you think we'll see MVS on any ST units on Sunday?

Anything is possible. The Packers actually had a good one-two going in Equanimeous St. Brown and Isaac Yiadom as the gunners, but certainly Valdes-Scantling's speed is unmatched.

Kenny from Memphis, TN

What is our Packers' magic number for the NFC North title?

Any combination of one Packers win or Vikings loss, over the next four weeks, would ensure Green Bay its third straight division title under Matt LaFleur.

Roger from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good Saturday morning, Wes. Earlier this season I questioned whether Dennis Kelly had even been activated for a game. The implication was that a player that was unlikely to see the field was taking up a valuable spot on the roster. Did Gutey foresee something that I didn't? (Just another example the great job he is doing.)

I don't want to go too far down this road because Spoff is writing something on Kelly that'll post later today, but I think the past few seasons made it clear to the Packers, and teams across the league, how important it is to have a well-stocked O-line. It's a brutal position and a long year. As much as you want to have a season like 2014 when the starting five miss one game combined, it's more likely you'll have to replace someone at some point.

Eric from Mequon, WI

With all the hubbub about "hotshot college coaches" not being able to ride the NFL bronco, do you think a decent NFL HC like Tomlin or McCarthy or Reich could duplicate success as a B1G or SEC head coach? I'd imagine it would be nearly the same type of culture shock moving down as it would moving up.

I think they might have a better shot at it because the name recognition should help recruiting. I think where Nick Saban and Urban Meyer came up short in the pros is they were beholden to their roster and turning a team around often requires a few draft classes.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

Is there an award for NFL Assistant Coach of the Year? The Packers offensive line coach should be a prime candidate for such an honor and perhaps a consideration as a head coach candidate as well.

The Associated Press began honoring assistant coaches of the year in 2016, but only coordinators have won it so far. Otherwise, Adam Stenavich would have to be considered for it. I'd like to see Joe Barry get some credit, too, for what he's done with the defense despite not having Za'Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander for most of the year.

H.R. from Las Vegas, NV

I still fail to understand how anyone can view the overtime rules as fair. The coin flip is still the primary determining factor in the winner of the game. Why on earth, when the league wants offense, would anyone agree that one team never getting a possession in overtime is fair? The Packers have been on the bad end of that in the playoffs; the Falcons got that particular egg in the Super Bowl. How can the league say that one of the best young QBs in the game right now doesn't get a shot?

Well, they've said it to Aaron Rodgers before. I'm not as mad about it as I used to be because the offense must score a touchdown now for the game to end in sudden death. This overtime system isn't perfect but at least it's no longer awful. The old days of moving the ball 35 yards to kick a game-winning field goal were ridiculous.

Patrick from Burlington, IL

Do you know what wins games? NOT analytics, but points. At what point will common sense overrule the fad of analytics?

Unfortunately, it's easier to sell subscriptions for analytics than common sense these days.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

In the interest of improving my Inbox submission performance, I'm looking to apply analytics. Can you please tell me which days of the week tend to produce the best questions, and which produced the lamest? If I submit on the latter, my chances of having a question answered increase. Just tryin' to stay in the show...

I can't speak for Spoff but Wednesday for Thursday produces the best questions for me. Tuesday is fine but it's a lot of armchair quarterbacking after a day of armchair quarterbacking. If you want to get a question answered, Friday for Saturday might be your best bet. There's a reason poetry prevails on that day.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Do you think COVID could help decide who wins the Super Bowl?

You have to try to control what you control in the time of the uncontrollables. Like Mark Murphy said almost two years ago, the teams that best handle COVID will be the ones that are most successful. That rule still applies.

Eddie from Onalaska, WI

Wes, your takedown of Tony La Russa was impressive...most impressive. You are indeed powerful, as the emperor has foreseen. Your future is so dark, you'll have to wear a mask. ;-)

Greg Matzek was right…and I'll leave it at that.

The Green Bay Packers held practice on Clarke Hinkle Field on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

Kevin from Louisville, KY

Best. "Three Things." EVER.

Hap from Graham, WA

Good morning Hod: I just finished binge-watching "Three Guys" (for the umpteenth time!). Is producing that show as fun for Hod/Spoff/Rock as it is for us to watch? Beat the Ravens!

Yes…especially when you have no idea what's going to happen any time you walk into the studio. "Packers Unscripted" has nothing on "Three Things'" unscripted-ness.

Matt from Vero, Beach, FL

In this week's Inbox we shall speak of anything other than beat the Ravens… Nevermore…

This week is your Super Bowl, Derek and Dean. Whatcha got?

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

More adversity in the season of adversity

The unseen enemy threatens evermore and remains relentless

The only thing that matters is the dedication you give

Now a trip to Baltimore and a playoff favorite desperate to remain so

Homefield and the cherished playoff bye in your grasp you must not falter

Focus on every step and stay the course Green and Gold

Brilliant, Dean. But we're gonna let Derek take this one home.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Rapping and Tapping,

a knock on the chamber door,

Just quoth the Ravens.

**Much respect to the great Edgar Allan Poe**

Well done, Derek. Spoff is pleased and you get to take us into Sunday. Enjoy the game, everybody.

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