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Inbox: Play as one, win as one

This year’s Super Bowl champion should get extra credit for rising above these circumstances

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Linebackers Rashan Gary, Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith

Renee from Green Bay, WI

Sometimes greatness is hidden by greatness (e.g. Aaron Rodgers/Davante Adams). It would be a daunting task to decide who is playing better at his position; a strong argument can be made for each. I'm not talking about what position is more important. Yes, a QB is more of a steering wheel for a team and his position makes him more of a factor but both are at the top of their game. Lucky us! Who would you choose?

Fortunately, Packers fans, you don't have to. You get the best of both worlds. I wish you all a good morning on this New Year's Eve.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Did you have a favorite play from the Titans game? I can't decide but am leaning on the incredible catch by Adams outstretched running on a snowy day. AJ Dillon's run was also eye-popping when he ran through a nose tackle on his way into the end zone. How do you decide with so many outstanding plays on offense and defense?

As impressive as it was to see AJ Dillon run through a 292-pound defensive tackle, it's gotta be Adams' 32-yard catch down the sideline for me. The whole sequence seemed implausible to me – the pinpoint throw and Adams catching that pass through the narrowest of windows in 25-degree weather.

Duane from Oak Creek, WI

How sweet would it be to not only secure home-field advantage but also knock the Bears out of the playoffs?

Sweeter than ice cream tossed into a bowl of refined sugar, but the bigger thing for the Packers is making sure they get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. It's crazy to think Green Bay has only had the top seed twice in my lifetime. Now it's right there for the taking.

Jeff from Yuma, AZ

Go Pack! Beat da Bears. How important do you think the home-field advantage is this year?

Were you able to watch the game last Sunday?

Bruce from Lakewood, CO

Good morning, Mike and Wes: Akiem Hicks back for the Bears but Linsley back for us. Game 1 between the two teams wasn't long ago. What is significantly different this time?

Hicks…and more commitment to the run with offensive coordinator Bill Lazor calling plays. David Montgomery is averaging 23 touches per game in December and I think you've seen how that workload has lessened Mitchell Trubisky's burden. Make no mistake, this is a much better Bears team than the one Green Bay routed a month ago.

Thomas from Oviedo, FL

Someone mentioned the key to this weekend's game will be controlling the clock. I would say the biggest key is for the Packers to get a lead and then let Mitch be Mitch. Just like with Cutler, the Packers' D just seems to really torment Bears QBs. Which player do you think will get that end-zone interception this time? I am betting on Jaire Alexander. Happy New Year!

Don't get too cocky, Thomas. Trubisky is a different quarterback when he has a stable running game and a tight end who's producing – and he has both right now. Trubisky made a cataclysmic mistake in the end zone vs. Jacksonville but otherwise has been playing winning football over the last month with a completion percentage around 70%.

Peter from Durham, England

Hello Mike/Wes, I know the Bears have played well over the past few weeks but could Trubisky have a mental block when it comes to playing the Pack? He never seems to play well against us. I hope I'm not jinxing this fact by asking this question.

We can't predict the future. We can only learn from the past. To date, Trubisky is 1-5 versus Green Bay with a 79.0 passer rating (145-of-242 for 1,507 yards, seven TDs and five INTs).

Collin from Kirkwood, MO

How confident do you think our defense is heading into this one? There's been a lot of talk about the surging Bears offense, but not much discussion of their schedule. Their recent numbers on offense look great, as they've feasted on defensive bottom-dwellers including the Lions, Texans, Vikings, and Jags. The Bears have a ton on the line and will show up in a big way, but I like the matchup and I'm excited to watch the Packers defense go to work against this surging Bears offense.

The swagger is back but the defense also can't get comfortable. It must channel those positive vibes from the past month into another complete performance before the start of the playoffs. Play as one, win as one. The formula worked against Tennessee and that mentality is what it'll take to win a Super Bowl.

Ronald from Panabo, Philippines

Insiders, as a group which is better right now: the Packers' running back trio or our offensive line? Or to put it another way, do our running backs make our line look great, or is it the line making the backs look great?

No one player or position group makes a running game successful, but running backs are what create the painting once the hole presents itself. I think the offensive line and receivers have done a phenomenal job of blocking at the first and second level this year, but both Aaron Jones and Dillon showed great vision last week and did a fantastic job of making defenders miss.

Jonas from Milwaukee, WI

Is it legal to have three running backs in the backfield? If so, could a triple read-option with Jamaal Williams, Dillon, and Jones be within the realm of possibility?

If Williams is good to go (he practiced Wednesday)…never say never.

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

Happy "Good Riddance to 2020 Day," Wes! I see a major problem regarding AJ Dillon and the effect he may have. If the Packers install laser goal posts, Dillon's massive gravitational field could bend the beams every which way. Mason Crosby may never make a kick again! ;-)

I knew Packers fans fell in love with Dillon after Demoski posted that photo of his legs last summer…but I didn't fully appreciate how much fans love him until this week.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Top of the morning to you. What is Aaron Rodgers' career record at Soldier Field? Would you happen to have that list in front of you?

8-3.

Mark from Richardson, TX

Good Morning II: In response to Mario from Kettleman City, CA, I would like to confirm that AJ Dillon is the official President of Thighland. Thank you for this medium and keeping us diehards from all over the states and world in the know with everything Packers.

Oh…my.

Jeff from Champlin, MN

Is Swervin' Ervin expected back soon? As much as I like Marshall Dillon gun-smoking defenders, I miss the jet sweeps and the plays it sets up. I also think he adds value as a slot WR. Haven't seen Tavon Austin used as much as a runner…yet.

No update other than the fact he's eligible to be activated off injured reserve but still hasn't returned to practice. Austin has been playing those two roles the past two games. He just hasn't had many opportunities yet.

Kevin from Santa Rosa, CA

HAPPY NEW YEAR II, how well does the defensive front for the Packers match up with the offensive line of the Bears?

Pretty well. The Packers had three sacks of Trubisky and hit him six times, including three by Za'Darius Smith. Besides that 57-yard run to start the game, the Bears were limited to 54 yards on the other 12 carries by Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

Given that the biggest play given up by the Packers' defense against the Titans was off read-option, do you think the Bears attempt a few more read-option plays since Trubisky is a tad quicker than Tannehill?

Quite possibly. It seems like the Bears have been running a solid 10-12 read-option plays a game with Trubisky back behind center. His speed is a strength and it must be respected.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers LB Ty Summers from the 2020 season.

Marc from Shade, Quebec

There's lots of press about the "red-hot" Bears but remember Dennis Green's famous words: "The Bears are who we thought they were." Their recent three-game winning streak and four-game offensive breakout has come, in part, because they went up against the 27th-, 30th-, 31st- and 32nd-ranked defenses in the NFL. The Packers rank seventh today. Da Bears are not the Chiefs. You never know on any given Sunday but at least there shouldn't be any surprises about who will be on Soldier Field with them on Sunday.

That's why the stakes are so high for both teams. If the Bears are going to make the playoffs, they have to punch their ticket against the class of the NFC. If the Packers are to remain in pole position in the conference, they need to contain Montgomery and turn back an ascending team that's feeling good about itself right now.

Darryl from Appleton, WI

I saw a replay of Aaron Jones' sideline run for a touchdown that showed a perpendicular view from the sideline. I could see green under the side of his foot, giving me the impression that the sideline judge may have seen it too, from that lower viewpoint perspective!

This ain't tennis. There's no overhead technology tracking the placement of the ball carrier's feet, that sounds off the alarm system if he steps out of bounds. On a long enough timeline, everyone gets bitten by a missed call every now and then.

David from San Antonio, TX

As noted when the schedule was released, I think, the gap between when we last played in Chicago and now is some 16 months. Seems like a decade since Coach LaFleur's debut. Could you have seen 25-6 coming back then?

I figured it would be a fast turnaround under LaFleur. I'm not sure I would've anticipated the Packers having the second-best record in the entire NFL during that timeframe, though.

Ralph from Mönchengladbach, Germany

It's the last week of the regular season. I'm positively surprised that the NFL managed (in the main part) to keep to the schedule and not need a Week 18. At the start of the season, there was talk the Super Bowl win will come with an asterisk this year. It should come with an exclamation mark instead. Your thoughts?

If anything, this year's Super Bowl champion should get extra credit for rising above the circumstances to win a championship.

Mike from Bronxville, NY

Hey II! We ran some numbers over here and found that in order for Aaron Rodgers to take the single-season passer rating title from himself, he would need to go at least 27-for-30 with 310 yards, five TDs and zero INTs to finish with a 122.6 rating. This was the most practical scenario.

If you didn't know, now you know…or something.

Luke from Greensboro, NC

The NFL has to be happy that they didn't schedule the Lions for the Packers this year.

Might not have been a bad way for the Packers to end the year, though.

Brian from Urbana, IL

Hey fellas, I'm putting together a YouTube playlist this week of the top five times the Packers have trolled the Bears in hilarious ways, to send to family and friends (we have fans in both camps). I sent them Chester Marcol a few weeks ago. For this one, I'm including stuff like the Raji pick-six, fourth-and-8, and the goal-line challenge that resulted in a touchback, etc. What would be a lesser-known moment you'd include?

The Packers moving Clay Matthews to inside linebacker after the bye week in 2014 and the Bears having no idea how to adjust to it in a 55-14 drubbing. Also, don't forget about the Smiths putting a stamp on an impactful debut with their combined sack to close the 2019 opener. That was a seminal moment in the LaFleur era.

Joe from Punta Gorda, FL

Looks like the weather should be OK for Sunday. As a former Chicago-area Packer fan, I know that Soldier Field has had difficulty in the past with their turf. Are visiting teams allowed to send "scouts" to the stadium to check things out? Do we know how Chicago's turf has held up this season?

For as much as people talk smack about Soldier Field, it seems to me like the playing surface actually has been better in recent years. At least, that's what Rodgers and vets have been saying. I guess we'll find out Sunday.

Vince from Flagstaff, AZ

Looking back, I'm really thankful that Krys Barnes made it through waivers and chose to sign to the practice squad after final cuts. What previous player do you recall as being your "one that got away"?

A fortnight ago, it was Jumal Rolle. I thought he had a bright future. Rolle had a good start in Houston but didn't have staying power. I really liked Anthony Levine, as well. I thought he had some Jarrett Bush to him…and he's turned out to have a longer career than Jarrett did.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Who is the oldest player to win the MVP?

Tom Brady, in 2017, at 40 years young.

Bill from Windermere, FL

Hello Insider, do you think that it's possible that Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes could be co-MVPs like Brett Favre and Barry Sanders were?

It's possible it ends in a tie. Gil Brandt mentioned before last week's games that you can't rule it out.

Thomas from Evansville, IN

Have you watched Rodgers on the "Pat McAfee Show" on every Tuesday this season? I think it's not only great for Packers fans and Pat's ratings, but also good for Aaron who gets to be himself on a media platform. I've heard Bears and Vikings fans even admitting he's a likeable guy because of the show.

Yeah. I've watched all season. First, I like Pat because he's a pro-wrestling guy. But I've genuinely liked their banter. My Tuesdays are also slower this year in the age of COVID-19.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

You have snacks. We have snacks. We all have snacks for the playoffs.

Playoff snacks have been ordered but we gotta get snacks here first before we can start enjoying them. But loyal readers know how much I love snacks. Maybe too much. I'm happy to have snacks on the table.

Ron from Mitchell, SD

I, for one, am OK with us still chasing our best game yet and furthermore, I'd be OK if we finally put that one on the field for all to see at the very end of the 2020 season! Happy New Year to all!

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am this is my final Insider Inbox of 2020. Good riddance. I know a flip of the calendar won't make tomorrow any different but hope springs eternal and I'm ready for a new year.

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