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Inbox: Never write off a team's ability to improve

The Packers got the impact they needed from theirs

QB Jordan Love, Head Coach Matt LaFleur
QB Jordan Love, Head Coach Matt LaFleur

Ken from Cypress, CA

That was the elusive complete game.

Darn close. A little closer than last week methinks.

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

4-6 with games against DET and KC coming up. Anyone who says they thought GB would be 6-6 and holding the seventh playoff spot at that point is a lying liar who lies!

How about not scoring a touchdown in the first half in five straight games to starting two games against first-place clubs with back-to-back TDs in each game. Never write off a team's ability to improve over a long season.

Mark from Westminster, CO

It felt like the seven carries by AJ Dillon for 27 yards on the first drive put KC on their heels a bit and set the tone for our OL for the rest of the game. What were your thoughts on that first drive?

The mix of plays and the execution of them kept the Packers in front of the chains almost the entire first half. They didn't face a third down needing more than 5 yards until the last 30 seconds of the half. That's how you keep an aggressive defense at bay for a while.

Brian from Bemidji, MN

13-75-7:47. Tone setter!

I wonder if LaFleur was actually happy the Chiefs deferred.

Vishnu from Cupertino, CA

Loved the win. One throw that stood out to me was Love's first TD to Watson. He felt the pressure on the edges, stepped up, and threw a dart to the open man. Great poise and pocket presence. If I may nitpick, it seemed like Love began to bail out of the pocket quite quickly in the 4th quarter. Did the protection break down, were receivers not open, or did Love just need to hang in there for a bit longer? Anyways, great win, again. Jordan Love what I've seen these past few weeks.

The Chiefs cranked up the aggression in the second half and started bringing the extra rushers. Love knew it and got out of there if he didn't have a hot read. LaFleur also called a couple move-the-pocket plays in anticipation of a blitz. It became a real cat-and-mouse game in the second half, but it sure helped to be in the lead the whole time.

Estillac from Belem, Brazil

Hi Mike, this feeling is just great! What was the most important play of the game in your opinion? And what was JL's best throw? I know that incredible fourth-and-1 was very critical, but I think the interception was the most important play. And that pass for the third touchdown was something really, really beautiful! Go, Pack, Go!

In my Rapid Reaction piece, I focused on the two blitz-beaters in a span of three plays in the third quarter – the fourth-and-1 and the third TD – because the Chiefs went all-out and Love burned them. Those plays kept the Packers in control. Defensively, three red-zone sacks, stopping Pacheco on the two-point play, and Keisean Nixon's interception were all big, but Nixon's play was definitely the biggest. It was the first real flinch by either QB.

Gary from Arvada, CO

Good morning, Mike. While Jordan Love played an outstanding game, what impressed me most was not the efficacy of his passing game, but his lack of critical mistakes – even one of which might have changed the outcome. He only took what the defending champs gave him.

He threw a couple of passes that made me (and Wes) go yikes from the press box, but they ended up not as much in harm's way as it first appeared. To me, he just looks extremely confident running play-action right now. When Dillon is grinding out yards to keep the defense honest, he sets up after that play fake looking like he's got command of the whole field.

Bubba from Kenosha, WI

Bigger surprise: Scoring 27 points vs. Chiefs' third-ranked defense in points allowed (Packers are ninth) or holding Chiefs' offense to 19?

I'll take the latter in an offense-driven league. The Chiefs came into the game having scored more than half of their points on the entire season in the second quarter. The Packers limited them to effectively one possession, and three points, in the second quarter.

Julius from Portland, OR

We need a Lego replay for that game, especially that wild non-fumble sequence. BTW, why no runoff there?

Great question. I was asking the same thing in the live blog. Also didn't get stopping the clock when MVS was going backwards out of bounds. That's not supposed to be granted. The final drive was not that officiating crew's finest hour. Clearly.

Joe from Bozeman, MT

Great win but continued horrible officiating. Not sure that should have been a late hit called on Mahomes' run on the last drive but at least the Packers got lucky on the no-call on what was clearly defensive pass interference on Valentine near the end of the game.

I want to take another look at the Mahomes hit, because in the moment I wondered if he was timing his run just right to draw a flag, like how he won the AFC title game last year. Maybe I'm just being too cynical. As others have pointed out, if the clock had been handled correctly in the final minute, all sorts of things would've/could've played out differently.

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

As I'm watching the Jets-Falcons game, I'm torn between rooting for improved playoff chances or improved draft capital. As long as GB takes care of business, the playoffs will take care of itself, so go ATL?

It would benefit the Packers if the Falcons win the NFC South so Green Bay isn't competing for a wild card with a team it lost to. So that was a good result Sunday.

Rob from Sturgeon Bay, WI

This offense is really doing a great job of getting everyone involved; it looks to me like they are having fun and playing hard. I was at the Viking game. What a turnaround.

Three things stick out to me from the Vikings game. Jayden Reed got the deep ball stolen for an INT. Dontayvion Wicks dropped the slant at the goal line. And the defense gave up a bunch of third-and-longs. All of those scripts have been flipped since. Mahomes did convert that backbreaking third-and-18 in the third quarter, but he's going to make a crazy play at some point. The Packers had that played perfectly, too, scheme-wise. The linebackers just got anxious when he broke the pocket and didn't wait long enough. Slow play that another two steps – easy for me to say – and that's a huge stop to start the second half.

Ken from Appleton, WI

How about a NFL question? How does not having doubleheaders on Fox and CBS every Sunday not make them more money?

Because the ad rates they can charge for that 3:25 p.m. CT "America's Game of the Week" slot are much, much higher when it's competing for an audience against fewer games.

Vince from Auburn, WA

The 49ers just pulled off one of the most impressive performances of the season. Defensively they are stout from front to back. But on offense, they possess a gritty offensive line that is capable of grinding it out down the field combined with a finesse passing game that can attack you with at least five elite playmakers. I can't recall a team with that type of hard-nosed/finesse combination, can you?

Sounds a lot like the 2022 Eagles to me, and the 2019 Niners for that matter. But yeah, impressive outing by San Fran. Will be interesting if they can take the No. 1 seed and bye from an Eagles team that was looking somewhat destined to earn it.

Sonia from Fairbanks, AK

A gutsy play. Thanks Jackson for wearing the cheesehead to work.

I hope he's wearing it proudly again today.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

Can someone explain how Travis Kelce is so often wide open and uncovered? One would think a player of his skill and notoriety would draw special attention. Also, what's II's take on the Packers' run defense?

Kelce gets open because the Chiefs scheme him open, and he's a future Hall of Famer. It's what they do. If somebody had the formula for stopping Kelce, everybody could copy it. With the run defense, the Packers clearly had trouble tackling Pacheco. He got a lot of yards after contact, lame pile-pushing notwithstanding. But the bottom line is when you're playing the champs, they're going to make their plays and do their thing. The defense needs to make a few key plays at key times, and the Packers got the impact they needed from theirs. I'll take that any time, any game.

Derrick from Dell Rapids, SD

I said it in Week 1 against the Bears, and I will say it again. In a much better accent then John Malkovich … "Pay the man his money."

Great movie. One of my all-time faves. All in due time, Teddy.

Colin from Victoria, BC

This game had almost everything a Packers fan could ask for. Jordan Love and the offense continues to roll. The defense stiffened in the red zone to force field-goal attempts and Nixon's late pick won the turnover battle. Even the questionable officiating seemed to even out. I like where this is heading!

How can you not? The Packers are playing good football, they're in the mix, and opportunities abound over the stretch run. This should be fun.

Brian from Reno, NV

Great win. Christian Watson is a difference-maker. The fact that he keeps getting hurt is concerning. We have a lot of playmakers on offense but if he stays healthy we are different. Here's hoping he's not gone a long time.

Defenses play the Packers differently with a threat like Watson out there. Opponents are going to adjust for however long he's sidelined, and the Packers will have to adjust too. The good news is all these young players on offense have shown they're growing up and should be able to handle it. But yeah, Watson's absence will be no small thing.

Nikhil from Highland Park, IL

Well, 12 games in, 6-6, and I have NO CLUE what to make of this team! I'm confused because of the extremes. They seemed SO bad with no signs of hope for a long time, and then beat two of the top teams in the league…and would be in the playoffs today! What's your take? Team legitimately on the rise, and will continue to go that way? Or a team that played above their level for a couple games and will regress?

There are going to be setbacks, and pauses in the progress, as this goes along. They're inevitable. The question now is whether the Packers will be good enough to overcome those missteps and still get the job done in a given game. It'll be another phase of maturing as a team.

Adrian from Oregon City, OR

This felt a lot like Jordan Love's coming-out party, confirming what we saw on Thanksgiving. Just glad the non-calls at the end of the game went the Packers' way. They deserved to win. Now, can they handle success? It's a good problem to have…

It sure beats the alternative. This team has proven it can handle adversity. It has experienced plenty, and there's always more lurking. That's this league. The handling success question is now staring them squarely in the face. Lots of folks are going to be talking about this team now. Don't get distracted.

Dean from Easley, SC

20 responses all "OK"? Vic's coming back?!

Not quite.

Troy from Ninety Six, SC

Did anybody else just add yellow sparkly pants to their Christmas list?

Again, not quite.

Steve from Plover, WI

Last Tuesday, I asked when we could start thinking about making the playoffs. Wes responded we would need to get back to .500 ball before entertaining such a notion. Well, not only are the Packers at .500, if the season were to end today, we'd be the seventh seed. Sooo…to me, of the remaining games, the Giants, Bucs, Panthers and Bears all look eminently winnable, with a combined record of 14-34, with only the 6-6 Vikings on the road as questionable. Do we like our chances now?

Path to the Playoffs could make its first appearance this coming week. But, just beat the Giants.

Steve from Scranton, PA

It only counts as one win in the standings, but it's so much more. After beating a Detroit team that was being talked about as a potential No. 1 seed on Thanksgiving, to follow it up with a victory against the defending SB champions and their two-time MVP QB is nothing short of stunning. Or, as you so eloquently said in the gameday blog on multiple occasions: "Wow. Just wow." The page has officially been turned!

Buckle up folks. This season just got real. Happy Monday.

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