Shirley from Mauston, WI
Are the guys all excited about possibly going to the playoffs? Are there any new things they are trying to promote a sure win? GO PACK GO! We are ALL as happy as can be!
I think so. You could feel it in the locker room Wednesday. To quote AJ Dillon: "It's an unbelievable opportunity we got in front of us. Sunday Night Football, everything we want is kind of right there for us."
Al from Green Bay, WI
Without Kirk Cousins under center, Minnesota is certainly a more vulnerable team. While Jordan Love has certainly turned some heads with his play this season, let's not overlook his durability. He hasn't missed a single snap because of injury. Green Bay needs to put together a performance similar to their Thanksgiving game to take down the Vikes and having No. 10 on the field is key to that endeavor. How should the Packers attack Nick Mullens to exploit the QB advantage?
I'll happily discuss the totality of Love's first season as QB1 once the year is over, including what you're referring to. But yes, things have changed drastically in Minnesota since Cousins' injury at Lambeau Field. Publicly, the Vikings aren't showing their cards as it relates to who will start on Sunday night. While there is no gambling at Bushwood, I'd wager Jaren Hall gets the call. That was the original plan before Hall suffered a concussion against Atlanta. Regardless of who's at quarterback, however, Green Bay must apply pressure and contain the plethora of receiving weapons Spoff outlined on Wednesday.
Don from Swaledale, IA
If you were the coach of the Vikings, what would your approach be to beat the Packers?
Minnesota is 3-3 against Green Bay when Justin Jefferson is active. He has 20 catches for 379 yards and four touchdowns in the three wins and 10 receptions for 99 yards and no TDs in the three losses. So, my approach would be to feed Justin Jefferson. The cat-and-mouse game begins with how much attention Green Bay pays Jefferson and what that means for defending Jordan Addison and K.J. Osborn.
Jim from Westland, MI
On Romeo Doubs' TD, as Malik Heath ran his route from the trips, he did a curl in – on the back end-zone line and it appears he jumped up as to catch the ball drawing the attention on near defenders...as Jordan Love connected to Rome. That can't be taught...everyone must do their 1/11.
Assignment-sure football is a beautiful thing to watch. I can't say enough about how good Love and the Packers have been in goal-to-go this season. Green Bay has converted all but one of its 19 goal-to-go situations into touchdowns this year. That 94.7% success rate leads the NFL by five percentage points. On that pass to Doubs, Love put that ball where only his receiver could catch it. Having Heath and others fulfill their assignments ensured that play led to points.
Stephie from Flowery Branch, GA
What did Jaire Alexander do before the Carolina game that got him suspended? What a shame. Thank for all you do!
LaFleur was asked about the decision, and this was his response: "It's never for one thing, but I think there's a lot of lessons along the way from everybody involved, and hopefully we learn from them. I think we will. I think there will be probably better communication moving forward." LaFleur also added, "Ja's going to be here a long time."
Mike from Algoma, WI
I have nothing but respect for Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur suspending Jaire for a game. I hope "23" benefits from it.
I like Jaire a lot, both the person and the player. He has a good soul and it's been fun to follow his rise in Green Bay. Again, hopefully everyone can take something away from this and be better for it in the long run.
Eric from Rochester, MN
Happy Holidays II! I've been searching for an answer on this, so I thought I'd try on the tails of Jaire being suspended for joining the pregame coinflip. Jaire said, "I want our defense on the field" (to start game), which is not the same as deferring. I always thought if you "deferred" that presumed you want to defer to second half and receive kickoff. Word is that if the refs went with what Jaire said, Carolina could have ended up with the ball to start each half. Can you explain this? GPG!
When you say "defer," you're choosing to defer your choice until the second half whether to receive the ball or kick. I said this same thing like a month ago and somebody jumped all over me for it.
Dean from Leavenworth, IN
Against Carolina, it looked like the Pack brought a lot of extra pressure for much of the game? By the second half, they seemed to know where and who it was coming from and had blockers in place. The best blitzing teams don't necessarily bring more pressure, but they disguise it well and can get more unblocked looks. Who are the best teams and DCs in the league at this? Are the Vikings one of them? Thanks.
That's why I always liked the LeBeau/Capers fire-zone defense because it stressed the quarterback's eyes and concentration over a 60-minute game. During Wednesday's "Packers Unscripted," Mike and I talked about how the Packers gave Bryce Young a lot to chew on early, but the Panthers young QB started getting the ball out quicker and Green Bay didn't shift into another gear, defensively. To your question, I would put Minnesota's defense in that conversation. Brian Flores has that unit humming. The Vikings don't get home every play – they're tied for 12th in sacks – but their pressure is consistent. The good news for Green Bay is its offensive line seems to have gelled and is playing some good football.
Paul from Ledgeview, WI
Wes, what is our defense missing? What element could you add to the mix to elevate that unit's performance?
Takeaways and more specifically interceptions. Keisean Nixon's pick of Patrick Mahomes represents Green Bay's only INT in its last seven games. The Packers have six picks this season, second fewest in the NFL to Tennessee's four. When the defense got hot last December, that turnaround started with takeaways. We don't know who'll start at QB for the Vikings Sunday, but the defense must find ways to take the ball away and get momentum back on its side.
Ed from Hilltown, PA
Wes, in the Inbox for the 27th, Mike mentioned that this defense is schematically set up to stop big plays but yet they happen too often. My question is then, why are these big gains occurring? Is it the players since scheme seems fine? Please shed some light on this for us. Thanks, and Happy New Year to all!
I wouldn't categorize anything as "fine" right now. The defense just gave up nearly 400 total yards and 30 points to an offense that's struggling to move the ball. But I'm also not going to lay that performance at the feet of one player or coach. The problem for me goes back to the previous answer – the defense is predicated on making offenses earn their yards and points without giving up chunk plays. What's resulted, however, is too many sustained drives and third-and-long conversions. The Packers haven't been rupturing for 75-yard touchdowns – David Moore's 52-yard score two weeks ago is the longest play Green Bay has allowed this season – but there still needs to be more resistance on intermediate gains.
Edward from Canton, SD
Did Jayden Reed return to practice on Wednesday? l hope, hope, hope…
The Packers conducted a walkthrough in lieu of a normal practice, but Reed was estimated as a limited participant. If Reed practices today, it'll be his first on-field work since injuring the toe against Tampa Bay.
Matt from Tinley Park, IL
Hello Mike/Wes, Happy New Year! Now that Bo Melton has gotten his feet wet, with his speed, will the Packers begin to use him on jet sweeps and go routes? Thank you for this column.
Melton was the perfect player to insert into the lineup with Christian Watson and Reed both out in Carolina. He takes the same reps as those two in practice and understood the assignment. Confirming what Spoff wrote, Melton has been elevated three times to the gameday roster and would need to be signed to the 53-man roster in order to play against the Vikings. His availability likely will depend on the status of Watson, Reed and Dontayvion Wicks (chest/ankle), who was estimated as a non-participant Wednesday.
Kyle from St. Charles, MO
It baffles me that so many within a fanbase can be so disheartened after a win. There's at least eight fanbases I'm sure that would love the opportunity to still be playing meaningful football. Two more huge division matchups with playoff implications. How can you not be fired up for Sunday? Things don't always unfold the way they're "supposed to" (see: Detroit, KC, NYG). Play the games, see what happens.
Green Bay can move one step closer to the playoffs while practically knocking Minnesota out of contention with a win at U.S. Bank Stadium. If you're a Packers fan and can't get up for that, I'm not sure why you're watching at all. The stakes are high…like they've always been.
Vincent from Green Bay, WI
Drew from Melrose, WI: "How does playoff experience benefit a player? What's the difference from "normal" game experience?" My question is for Mike/Wes. As a fan at a playoff game, I can feel the difference sitting in the bowl. Can you feel the difference from your press box seats? I would guess the answer is yes. I hope Drew has the opportunity for attending a playoff game in person to experience the difference firsthand.
I agree 100%. I consider playoff football to be a completely different season. The atmosphere is indescribable regardless of whether you're in the stands, press box or standing on the sideline.
Dan from Wausau, WI
Played around with scenarios in ESPN's playoff machine and was surprised to see that there are scenarios where the Packers could lose/tie to Minnesota and still make the playoffs, but it requires so much more to break their way. My simple conclusion: just beat the Vikings, then just beat the Bears, and let the rest sort itself out. If in the end it isn't enough, at least the team still had meaningful December football and will have gained the valuable experience of a playoff push. Go Pack Go!
Again, just look at the Lions. That 9-8 run, capped by knocking Green Bay from the playoffs, set the table for what Detroit is accomplishing. Positive things can sprout from the Packers winning out.
Russ from Henrico, VA
Should the Packers make the playoffs, how much postseason seasoning would the next two games give the young guys?
At least a pinch or two.
Troy from Ninety Six, SC
Besides beating the Vikings this week, what must happen elsewhere in order for next week's game versus the Chicago Bears to be meaningful for our playoffs hopes?
The New York Giants beating the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh over Seattle are the two big ones. Either the Rams or Seahawks need to lose a game to give Green Bay a shot at this thing. Chicago over Atlanta would help, too, and Tampa Bay would do everyone a favor by beating New Orleans. It seems unlikely the Buccaneers would lose to Carolina in the season finale, so they might as well win out and take the NFC South crown.
Josh from Adams, WI
My man Merriam defines valuable as having monetary value; worth a good price. As such, shouldn't the MVP race be down to Brock Purdy with the best QB rating/$ ratio or Brandon Aubrey with the most points/$? If not, it's obviously time to change the name. In this era of languishing linguistics, I suggest we go with "Most Best Player" and succinctly define the winner as he who generates the most fantasy points.
I think Monday night sealed the NFL MVP for Lamar Jackson, though I felt he was the MVP before that, too.
A couple more points for the "tank for a better draft pick" crowd. In 2003, a Packer team went into the last four weeks with a 6-6 record and won four straight to win the division (including Brett Favre's game after his dad's passing, and the miracle finish with Minnesota and Arizona). And in 2006, a poor team won the last four games to go 8-8. They missed the playoffs, but that momentum helped carry us into 2007, and we wound up in the NFC Championship. Winning games is ALWAYS better in the long run. Go Pack!
To embrace losing is to fall into a bottomless pit of despair. If you strive for victory, your culture will reflect it.
Nate from Naples, FL
Shout out to Mike for the Vin Scully reference yesterday. "Aren't we all (day to day)?" Let's hope GB's defense can keep Mullens up to his armpits in alligators.
Dan from Tallahassee, FL
Good morning II and Packers fans, watching the vid of LeRoy Butler walking us through the first Lambeau Leap was entertaining. He didn't make it all the way up, and yet, having been in that stadium and having seen the height of that wall, I'm always amazed at the athleticism of the players in full gear who can jump, twist, and sit with the fans. I wonder how many of them practice it on the sly.
Tyler Gajewski and Adam Hoebelheinrich did such a great job with that project. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face after watching it.
Kirsten from Madison, WI
This idea that getting to the playoffs would be pointless because the Packers won't advance beyond the first game is bizarre to me. Why get to the playoffs? 1. Because that's the goal of the regular season. 2. Because every week the Packers play is one more week we get to watch a Packers game. That's enough for me. The offseason is so very long.
And you never know what might be possible. Imagine if the 2010 Packers would've given up in the face of all those injuries.
TK from Grafton, WI
What percentage of fans think they are smarter than the coaches?
Less than I want to say but more than should be believed.
Lori from Broomfield, CO
On a daily basis, how many questions fall into the category of criticism that warrants no response?
Questions? Precious few. Statements/rants? Oh, let me count the ways.
Dan from Toledo, OH
Win or lose, it will be a win for the Inbox. With a late game on New Year's Eve, Wes will not be allowed to drink too much. What a wonderful time it will be. Will Mike get enough time to drink before bedtime? Not worried about that one. It's that young Weston I worry about.
The apple ciders and sarsaparillas will be flowing.
Jeff from Janesville, WI
As another year draws to a close, special thanks to the two of you for getting us through a really tough season. Thanks for all your insights.
We do what we can and can what we do. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Talk to you on Friday.