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Inbox: The Packers need a second helping of that electric atmosphere

Green Bay must approach this regular-season finale with both confidence and caution

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CB Keisean Nixon

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

Awhile back, I believe 2020, a reader submitted a quote that I wrote down on a post-it and put it in my shop. "Fairy tales do not start, nor do they end, in the dark forest. That son of a gun always shows up smack-dab in the middle of a story. But it will all work out." Seems fitting for this season too. Go Pack!

We're almost here, folks. It's somewhat hard to believe Week 18 is already here. As Spoff and I readied to shoot "Final Thoughts" in the bowl Friday, it dawned on me just how wild this rollercoaster ride has been this season.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Wes, does the previous matchup early in the season have any implications in the rematch? Better to be the team looking to even the score, and punch their ticket, or the winner of the first game looking to repeat success? Or is the first game so long ago, and in such different circumstances, it has no bearing on this one?

Well, it definitely didn't have any impact on the Vikings rematch. Detroit is a much different team away from Ford Field, as well. The Lions have 2,478 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and three interceptions (109.3 passer rating) at home this year compared to 1,742 passing yards, six TDs and four INTs (87.6 passer rating) on the road. The difference is reflected in the run game, as well, where Detroit has rushed for 1,311 yards and 13 TDs on 255 carries (5.1 yards per carry) at home and just 764 yards and eight TDs on 200 carries (3.8 ypc) on the road. The Packers need to use Lambeau Field to their advantage.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Wes, I don't see much to change on offense or defense this week compared to last week. Stick Jaire Alexander on St. Brown, and execute a balanced attack on offense, with plenty of runs to soften up the defense and set up play-action. Do you envision any significant changes in scheme this week because of the Lions' personnel and scheme, or do the Packers ride a winning strategy?

I run to daylight behind Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Carolina had 240 rushing yards in the first half alone against Detroit a couple weeks ago, with both Chuba Hubbard and D'Onta Foreman each posting 100 rushing yards at halftime. Defensively, you hope the Packers can get some early stops and maybe a turnover or two, but offensively controlling the ball and winning time of possession could be critical. I believe that starts with Jones and Dillon. Run behind the horse that brung ya…or something like that.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

Statistics suggest the Lions' secondary is not great at coverage – how are they in run support? With Allen Lazard, Christian Watson and our TEs blocking as well as they have, those outside runs that test the run fits and tackling of the secondary could be the difference in three-and-outs and 10-play drives for the GB offense.

It all fits together, which is why I think there's an opportunity there for the Packers to run the ball. One name to keep an eye on, though, is Josiah Deguara. Green Bay is pretty healthy right now, but Deguara is questionable for this one with a calf injury. He's done a nice job as a lead backfield blocker for Jones and Dillon this season.

Tomasso from Urbana, IL

Lots of talk about Goff, but won't this game come down to whether Packers can keep Jamaal Williams from having a big game?

For sure. Green Bay certainly can't let Williams and D'Andre Swift go off. I mentioned this on "Unscripted" this week, but I really feel like Williams has been the perfect complement to Swift, who has struggled to stay healthy. Williams is a more traditional bell cow, anyway, which allows the Lions to be more selective with how they attack with Swift. They're both impact players, man. Behind that offensive line, the Lions are a big play waiting to happen. Green Bay must approach this regular-season finale with both confidence and caution.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

I haven't seen much mention of Justin Hollins. Another shrewd pickup by Gute, heh?

In five games, Hollins has racked up nine tackles, four quarterback hits and 2½ sacks. He's been this year's Whitney Mercilus.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

If I remember correctly a few weeks back, there were comments of Quay Walker being somewhat of a disappointment. Did I read correctly where I saw he is just seven tackles away from setting the rookie regular-season tackle record? How big is that!?

It's another reminder of how you have to be patient with these rookies and allow them to grow. Quay Walker has so much ability and such a high athletic ceiling. It says a lot about him how he started right out of the gates and played as well as he did (114 tackles, three forced fumbles and 1½ sacks). Were there a few missed tackles? Sure. Are there still things to learn? Absolutely. But the young man belongs on the field. Also, thank you Darren for sending along the wonderful hand muffs. They'll come in handy for a potential playoff run!

Rob from Oregon City, OR

I expect the Packers fans to be as loud as they were on New Year's Day! Do we know the decibel level from that game? It was my first trip to Lambeau and to see my team play live. Unforgettable and hope one day to be there again to share the atmosphere!

I didn't have a decibel reader handy (maybe Spoff did), but that was one of the best crowds I ever recall at Lambeau Field – and Packers fans stayed until the very end. Incredible.

Andy from Kalamazoo, MI

Dear Insiders, I noticed the Lions are averaging 33 points at home and 19 on the road. Even though the weather wasn't terrible, I got the feeling Lambeau was not a good track for the Vikings, another good offense with explosive receivers. Is there a real advantage here for the Pack?

It is what it is. That's how this game of football is played. If you don't like it, then maybe install real grass. Again, I expect the advantage to be in the stands on Sunday night. This is as close as we're gonna get to a playoff game at Lambeau Field this year. The fans absolutely brought it on Sunday and the Packers need a second helping of that electric atmosphere.

Bob from Bella Vista, AR

Does Detroit (or any future team this year, God willing) dare kick down the middle of the field to Keisean Nixon or even allow him to touch the ball on kickoffs?

Opposing teams may have to mix it up because you can't count on every kicker being able to boot the ball out of the end zone this time of year, especially at Lambeau. Nixon and the kickoff return unit are in a groove right now. As Nixon told reporters on Thursday, he enjoyed his first Lambeau Leap after the TD vs. Minnesota and wants nothing more than to do another very, very soon.

Richard from Racine, WI

Good morning! I found it reassuring to hear that prior to every NFL game there is a meeting one hour before game to be certain emergency personnel, and all involved including the referees, that takes place to be aware and certain everyone is ready for events such as the serious injury on Monday Night Football to Bills player Damar Hamlin. Have you ever been able to attend or cover the 60-minute meeting? That plan and the tremendous efforts of the people executing that plan go unnoticed, or unappreciated.

I've never been part of that meeting but am aware that it's a staple of pregame for both teams and the officials. I've seen firsthand the tight-knit bond the Packers' medical and training staffs have with the players in that locker room. Based on everything I've read in Buffalo and Cincinnati, the same is true for both of those clubs – and that preparation is what helped save Hamlin.

Andrew from Burke, VA

Any chance the Lions ignore the Seahawks game during warmups and play as if it were win-and-in for them as well? Or is that pretty much impossible in the Information Age we now live in? I understand the concept of wanting to play spoiler, but wouldn't the Lions also be demoralized knowing their one shot at the playoffs was over before it started?

Respectfully, that's a Detroit problem. All the Packers have to worry about is beating the team that lines up across from them on Sunday night.

Kent from Appleton, WI

I enjoyed Mike's end-of-week chat. Is it a doink only when the ball hits the goal post and bounces out, but a clunk when it bounces through?

All I heard was cha-ching.

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

Kudos to Wes on the amazing alliteration used in the title of the article "Positivity has propelled Packers to playoff precipice."

Not gonna lie. I gave myself a Brian Johnson punch on the arm after writing that one.

Ralph from Sheboygan, WI

I'm not agreeing with your response to Michael of New London. I didn't think you would promote "acting" to get a flag. The frustrating part about watching the NFL is the inconsistency of calling or not calling PI. I just want consistency and I certainly don't want penalties called because the receiver was overacting to get a call. Then I will watch soccer.

I know officials and referees get graded every week by the NFL, but what I couldn't determine is whether there are any checks-and-balances there with the teams themselves. Like at the end of each season, why not have each member club submit a review of the officiating that year? I'm sure there might be a few coaches with sour grapes, but you'd think trends would develop with 32 teams lending their voice to the discussion.

Timothy from Menasha, WI

Speaking of Packers kickoff returns, let's not forget 1967! Rookie Travis Williams, I believe, returned four of them for TDs, including two in the same game against the Cleveland Browns, which was a 55-7 victory. He averaged 41.7 yards per return.

Williams' average remains the franchise single-season career to this day.

Peter from Cincinnati, OH

"They were also 4-8 with a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit against the three-win Bears. When this season has taken its turns, those turns have been super sharp." I like this term, for turns, "super sharp," in my experience they tend to be meaningful. Let's face it, Packerland is wondering if this one is the ticket to SB 57. Do you think that getting so close and failing in the last two years is helpful?

I think this journey has reinforced that what matters most is getting in the playoffs and seeing what happens. The Packers had byes in each of the past three seasons, and it wasn't enough to make that leap to the Super Bowl. Maybe a callback to the 2010 run is just what the doctor ordered? But any hopes for a playoff rush are contingent on Sunday night – survive and advance.

Danny from Chattanooga, TN

One last point about the Jaguars-Titans game tonight, and not Sunday night: If the Patriots, Dolphins, and Steelers all lose then the Jags would be in the playoffs win or lose.

With respect to all the AFC teams, I have a difficult enough time doing NFC math that I haven't really paid too much attention to the scenarios in the other conference. I'm taking the Pa Hod approach to the AFC – I'll check my phone after Packers-Lions wraps up and see who made it in.

Tom from Lisbon, WI

I think we need to stop kidding ourselves that math isn't allowed in the Inbox. There's math in the Inbox, usually accompanying a reference to the ban on math, almost every single day. If anything, we've come full circle and math is now *encouraged* in the Inbox.

We have a love/hate relationship with math. It's like marriage with the occasional decimal involved.

Bil from Stateline, NV

I just watched the LEGO replay of last Sunday's game. I wrote in on Tuesday that I didn't know Rodgers played the bass guitar. (I noted that during AJ Dillon's touchdown celebration.) The Lego people caught that, too, putting the bass in his hands. I guess someone over there is paying attention.

We have so many talented people in our video, social and digital departments. After hearing that we were doing a LEGO video this week, I had a permanent grin on my face. That's exactly what we needed after such a heavy week.

Jason from Cary, IL

I became engaged over the holidays. Who can I contact to book the Green Bay Packer Air Orchestra to play at my wedding?

Congratulations! We'll get you in touch with our invisible conductor.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Everyone is talking about why the Packers have turned the season around. Christian Watson and Nixon bringing big-play explosiveness, the defense creating turnovers, Rodgers' thumb healing, cold weather football. I think people outside the II don't understand the biggest factor though. Those of us here daily reading the II know that the turnaround is all because of one thing. The man, the myth, the legend, and the poet! Dean. Thanks for writing again, Dean, and saving the season.

Dean is the real (Inbox) MVP.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Table almost run,

Both less and more than a game,

Just beat the Lions.

GO PACK GO!

As frightening as this week started, I am so thankful to read all the positive updates on Damar Hamlin, including the removal of his breathing tube and his address of the Bills on FaceTime Friday. God is good.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

The final chapter? Not yet written

Left for dead five weeks ago the Packers have risen

Destiny and the future firmly in your grasp

Your foe will not quit nor go gentle into the night

Stay the course and give no quarter Green and Gold

One more round at Lambeau for the 2022-23 season. I can think of no better way to end it than a win catapulting this improbable run into the playoffs. Enjoy the game, everybody.

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