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Inbox: The Packers have to take care of business regardless

It says a lot about those players and coaches that they fought instead of folding

Packers RB AJ Dillon

Jake from Decatur, GA

Wes, I'd like to give you and Mike both a combined congratulations (or "combobulations" for short) on another excellent year of the Inbox! It's been a while since I felt this way, but I suspect 2023 is going to be a pretty good one. Here's hoping we can start it off with a W!

I cannot believe another year has come and gone. We thank you for coming along for the ride, and hopefully the first month of the New Year will be filled with more meaningful Packers football chatter. Good morning!

Bill from San Antonio, TX

"Apparently not about lunches and donuts." Thanks for the laugh. Happy New Year.

Spoff had to sneak in one last zinger before closing the book on 2022.

Ray from Owensboro, KY

I am fired up about Sunday's game against the Vikings. With that being said, can the Packers really do this and make the playoffs? GO PACK GO!

All the Packers can worry about is the team on the opposite sideline – and it's a good one. A lot of shade has been thrown at Minnesota this season, but the Vikings are what their record says they are. Fifteen times Minnesota has stepped on the field and 12 times it left victorious. The Packers will likely know how high the stakes are based on the outcome of Washington and Cleveland, but they have to take care of business regardless.

Bil from Stateline, NV

Looking forward to Sunday's game, it would appear to me that if the Packers' D-line can continue their resurgent pass rush, they can upset Minnesota's apple cart. (There. I didn't mention lunches, or donuts, once. Though I do like an apple in my lunch.)

It's my biggest key to victory in this game. Pressuring Kirk Cousins doesn't ensure victory, but it cuts down on the amount of time he has to chop down a defense. Green Bay's defensive front has a big to-do list. It needs to hold Dalvin Cook in check and not allow Cousins to get into a rhythm with his receivers and T.J. Hockenson. This is one of those games where the pass rush needs to work in concert with the coverage.

Roger from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning, Wes. Happy New Year a day early to you and all your cohorts. If my research is correct (maybe suspect), the Packers haven't lost both regular-season games to the Vikings since 2017. What better time to keep that string going? Meaningful football in the new year. Just win! Go Pack Go!

Six months ago, I thought this Week 17 game against Minnesota would mean a great deal. Personally, I saw the scenarios flipped but that's the NFL season for you.

Julie from Sturgeon Bay, WI

What other teams need to lose to help our chances for the playoffs?

First and foremost, check out Mike’s “Path to the Playoffs” this week. He does a great job of surveying the landscape. The Packers want Cleveland to beat Washington and Indianapolis to pull off a minor miracle in the Meadowlands over the New York Giants. It also wouldn't hurt if New Orleans beat Philadelphia and San Francisco beat Las Vegas to stay within striking distance of the Eagles.

Bill from Dix Hills, NY

Not so much a question as a statement. When I look around at other teams and their fans, I am struck by the tone of comments about the players. What I appreciate with you two is that you do not forget to take into account that these excellent athletes that play for the Packers are also humans, and humans make mistakes. Thank you both for your reasoned, calm, and well-written efforts to keep those of us living at a distance informed and entertained. Happy New Year to you and yours.

Narratives change fast in this league, and players and teams rise and fall every week. The viewpoint I take is it's a 17-act play, and the review is incomplete until all the games are played. The five-game losing streak was disappointing, but the Packers are still here. I think it says a lot about those players and coaches that they fought instead of folding. Will it be enough to catch the playoff field? We'll find out over the next two weeks.

John from Jupiter, FL

Morning Wes. What are your thoughts on Jaire Alexander's comments on Justin Jefferson? Gamesmanship or poking the bear? Thanks.

Knowing how the industry works, I figured that part of Alexander's comments would get pulled for Friday headlines. What didn't get nearly as much play was the respect Alexander showed Jefferson by speaking his name in the same breath as Davante Adams' when talking about the NFL's top receivers. Jefferson is one of the game's very best. Unfortunately for the Packers, they're going to be dealing with him for a very long time. Alexander typically plays big in the big games. It'll be an entertaining matchup to watch.

Hannes from Glendale, WI

Sitting in Lincoln Financial Field a few weeks ago, seeing the Packers go down 14-0 early against the best team in the NFC, I thought to myself I'd learn who this team is in the next three quarters, and I did. They started pushing an arrow that was pointing straight down to a slightly more favorable position and have kept doing so since. Let's hope that continues at Lambeau Field this weekend.

The Packers still have so far to go to make a postseason push, but I find it interesting that this potential run started in Philadelphia – much like it did in 2016. Now, the Packers didn't win this year's tussle with the Eagles, but they came out of that a much different team. That was the moment Green Bay could've tapped out. They chose not to and here we are.

John from Elgin, IL

The Packers had no defensive strategy for Jefferson in the first game. Did the DC learn from this mistake?

I think so. The Packers' coaches and players recognize their Week 1 shortcomings. Honestly, the defense has played some pretty good ball since Philly. Jefferson is going to get his catches. He's been one of the league's biggest playmakers for the past month and a big reason the Vikings are 12-3. The Packers can't give him free releases and room to run in the open field. More than just matchups, I think that's what went wrong in the opener. Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill were a good test last week in Miami and hopefully Green Bay's performance in the second half against those two elite receivers carries into this one.

Robert from Corpus Christi, TX

Congratulations to Aaron Jones on moving up on the Packers' all-time rushing leaders list. He and AJ Dillon are a great one-two punch. Can Jones stay healthy enough to get us to the playoffs?

That depends on the ankle. He's had some issues with it during the second half of the year. Jones only touched the ball eight times on 25 snaps in Miami. It would be ideal if the Packers could double those figures Sunday. Jones has rushed for 587 yards and five touchdowns on 108 carries (5.4 yards per carry) in eight games against Minnesota. He's rushed for 412 yards and four TDs on 70 carries (5.9 ypc) in the four wins. He has 175 yards and one TD on 38 carries (4.6 ypc) in the losses. So, you tell me how important Jones is to this offense.

Patrick from New Market, MD

I was surprised to see the 1,000 yards from scrimmage duos did not include Edgar Bennett-Dorsey Levens. Never checked that, but they were a great tandem back there. For my question, does Cliff have a piece on Buckets Goldenberg, a Packer in the '30s and '40s? Buckets was a buddy of mine's uncle.

Bennett and Levens were highly effective running backs for the Packers but really only had that Super Bowl XXXI season together. Bennett ruptured his Achilles the following year and moved onto Chicago, while Levens didn't truly come into his own until that 1997 campaign. Also, here's Cliff’s entry on Goldenberg.

Keith from Dodgeville, WI

Guys, I can't believe Allen Lazard got a fine for taunting after throwing the best block by a WR this season and the no-call for PI, come on man!

I expected nothing less from the NFL. That's kind of been the league's M.O. Emphasize calls on the field that impact the actual game.

Lori from Cherry Valley, IL

Do the players and coaches on both Green Bay and Minnesota have curfew rules since they are playing on New Year's Day? Go Pack Go. Happy New Year to both Wes, Mike all employees, coaches, staff, trainers, players and fans. Cheers to 2023!

Matt LaFleur actually was asked that exact question on Friday. The Packers know what's at stake here and will act accordingly. The team has a full workday on Saturday, too. I doubt many guys will make it to midnight.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Wes, if you were going to give either team an edge based on health, which team and why? Which team will have more of its preferred starters in the lineup Sunday?

I'd say the Vikings have the edge there. Minnesota has 10 guys on IR right now but only four players listed on the injury report. This will be Austin Schlottmann's fourth straight start at center for Garrett Bradbury, too.

Patrick from Ashland, WI

What if the Pack and Vikes tie?

I head to the cabinet with the Advil.

Peter from Morganfield, KY

David from El Segundo said he'd like a bomb to Christian Watson on the first offensive play on Sunday. While that would be amazing (if it worked), I think that if the coaches are trying to be cute, it would be more likely that Watson runs that go route as a decoy while the intended focus of the play is elsewhere. ML and AR can always circle back around to Watson deep in drive two or three. Can't wait to find out!

I just want to see Watson on the field. This isn't the same No. 9 the Vikings faced in September – and that one was pretty dang good. Patrick Peterson has had a terrific year since getting burned off the line of scrimmage at U.S. Bank Stadium. Watson has made his share of rookie mistakes, but the Packers are a different offense when he's on the field.

Richard from Lac du Flambeau, WI

Hi Mike and Wes, will you be nervous if the Packers are leading at halftime 32-0?

I have a little more confidence in Matt LaFleur to handle such a scenario.

Aaron from Minocqua, WI

Not a question, but I'm officially excited to watch for Aaron Rodgers' invisible guitar on play-action. Sounds like a great photoshop opportunity.

That's a pretty good idea, actually. I'll pass that on to our video and social teams.

Derek from Sheboygan, WI

What can we expect from new addition Bo Melton this week?

Special teams, if anything. Melton has been a flyer in coverage and also has some return experience. We'll see how the gameday 48 looks at 1:55 p.m. CT on Sunday.

Jared from Rigby, ID

Guys, I'm not sure what the issue is with throwing the deep bomb to open the game again. If it doesn't work, can't you just hit the restart button and try it again till it works?

Been there, rage-quit that.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, Derek Carr is no longer with the Raiders. Davante Adams would like to play on Carr's team. Would the Packers consider picking up Carr, increasing the likelihood Adams returns to Green Bay? Just beat Minnesota!

Davante is the man, but the Packers have no shortage of receivers (or quarterbacks, for that matter) right now. I just think you have to appreciate each segment of life for what it is. When that chapter ends, you move onto the next phase. I think there's a few Inbox readers who could take something from that. Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened, right?

Dylan from Luxemburg, WI

Mike's rebuttal to Steve from Ashland had me rolling! Lawnmowers and gas pumps – that's a good one.

"Big lawnmower guy" might be the next shirt.

Evan from Durango, CO

What's his face from who cares may think you guys are knobs but I think you're all right.

And "What's his face from who cares" might be the one after that.

Ron from Beaver Dam, WI

In my younger years, on more than one occasion, I had donuts and beer for lunch. Viewed it as complete nutrition. Then I married a dietician. She said no!

You needed a dietician to tell you that was a less-than-ideal lunch combo?

Tom from Iola, WI

I would like to thank you two knobs, not only for the football insight and perspective, but for the escape from the everyday bombardment of depressing news from other media. I have been a devoted reader ever since your senior mentor knob began this forum. It is a guilty pleasurable escape with just enough humor to ease through the day. Thank you!

I've never been so happy to read a submission beginning with "I would like to thank you two knobs" in my life.

Adam from Washington, MO

Last weekend, a co-worker of mine passed away after a long bout with cancer. She was a fellow Packers fan. For years, after every game win or lose, we would spend a few minutes discussing, ranting, or raving. I am certainly going to miss these conversations which were a constant each week. I hope every Packers fan (or a fan of any NFL team) is able to simply "enjoy" the games each week (win or lose) for what they are: a pleasant distraction from this hectic/tumultuous world called "Life."

I'm sorry for your loss, Adam. I'll be thinking of you and your coworker this weekend.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

New year, new Packers,

Border battle for it all,

One at a dang time.

The Packers need two wins at home (and a little help) to make the improbable possible. Whatever happens, it's always fun to cover meaningful January football.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Your hated border rival comes to answer the challenge and will bring its best

The Vikes hope to extinguish the flame and cast us into the darkness

Answer with your best and leave no doubt

Not in our house, Green and Gold

Keep the Dream alive

And so, the run continues. Enjoy the ballgame, folks.

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