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Inbox: The whole perspective hinges on next Sunday night

The Packers have made their own lives harder


Shawn from Kissimmee, FL

You don't have to answer the Vikings fans' Inbox this morning, so you have that going for you.

Which is nice. Happy Monday.

Cindy from Oshkosh, WI

What is going on with the Eagles this year? Say what you will about our Packers, at least they've played the elite teams tough. Imagine how the fans in Philly feel. The Eagles are Super Bowl champions and do not look like it. What are the Mike and Wes in Philly saying to their Insider wolves who are howling?

The Eagles are a prime example of why you have to enjoy every moment of success that comes your way in this league.

Corinne from Chicago, IL

Spoff, what do you think that we should be watching for during the slate of NFC matchups on Thanksgiving, including an NFC North showdown?

The NFC North game is the one I'm most interested in, of course. For the Packers' sake, you're hoping the short turnaround from a Sunday night to Thursday day game affects the Bears, and that the Lions maybe started to right the ship with a big win over Carolina. Dallas has a huge opportunity in the NFC East, and I'm not sure anyone can beat the Saints right now, but as soon as you say that …

Daniel from Los Angeles, CA

I noticed an interesting pattern: Each season there's a team that stays remarkably healthy and makes a big run. 2016 Falcons, 2017 Vikings, this year it's the Bears. The only thing is these teams never seem to win the Super Bowl, but I think their success is more focused on health.

You have to have good players first. Then, yes, health is always a factor. Always.

Freddie from West Valley City, UT

Are the '18 Saints on par with the '07 Patriots?

Wouldn't it be something if the Saints win it all with a 18-game winning streak? It would be the closest equivalent to the '72 Dolphins without actually going undefeated. I'm not saying it's going to happen, but readers know I thought the Saints were the best team heading into the playoffs last year and would have won it all if not for the Minneapolis Miracle. They stumbled in Week 1 but haven't so much as touched a sidewalk crack since.

Tom from Woodbury, MN

After watching the games this Sunday, it appears the Packers have everything in front of them. Wild card and division winner are both possible. It just requires them to start winning games. The one next Sunday at Minnesota is important. A win next week puts them back in good position, and could lead to a good run of winning games. The schedules for Minnesota and especially Chicago get harder from here, while the Packer schedule gets easier.

"It just requires them to start winning games." That's almost Insider Inbox Hall of Fame worthy. Look, the whole perspective hinges on next Sunday night in Minnesota. A win makes every game on the schedule appear winnable and destiny still seemingly in your own hands. A loss and you're hanging by a thread and praying for help.

Joe from Clio, MI

Mike, what does New Orleans do better on offense than Green Bay does?

Score more points.

Tom from Palatine, IL

I have been watching football for almost 50 years and have always been amazed, at the highest level of the game, at the fine line between winning and losing. How many games this season turned on one play (missed completion, failed defensive stop, questionable penalty call, overturned replay review, etc.) and yet if you believe the talking heads there is a possibility Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff could be out of jobs at the end of the season. Any opinions on the unfairness of it all?

It's not unfair, it's what they all knowingly sign up for, and they relish in the hyper-competitiveness of it. They don't lament it, they embrace it, which in many ways is what you have to do as a fan as well. It's the only way to stay sane. The NFL has the fewest games, and the most competitive balance, of any professional sports league. A lot of success can hinge on very little, but isn't that why we watch?

Jordan from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Not sure I have ever seen a player come as long ways as Kyler Fackrell. Honestly, I thought in the offseason he might not even make the team, now he's leading the team in sacks and not only does he look like our best pass rusher, he is playing well in coverage and against the run as well. In your time covering the Packers who are some other guys you've seen make a jump like this?

Desmond Bishop comes to mind. Bishop didn't have nearly the opportunities on defense Fackrell did in his first couple of seasons, but the few chances he got produced a fair amount of uncertainty. Then when he matured as a player and got a full-time chance after Nick Barnett went down, Bishop proved he belonged.

Luke from Fitchburg, WI

I've been a Shareholder since 1923 and haven't slept more than two hours a night since the Eisenhower Administration.

There's one in every crowd.

Joe from Huntsville, AL

Catch the Alex Smith injury after J.J. Watt landed on him? No flag was thrown; the league will never admit it but officials have clearly been instructed to back off on enforcement on the bodyweight rule.

If so, Walt Anderson didn't get the memo in Jacksonville, because he called Calais Campbell for the bodyweight foul on the most mundane of sacks vs. Roethlisberger on Sunday.

SG from Colorado Springs, CO

I am not a conspiracy theorist but the amount of ill-timed calls leading to ill-fated results is mind-boggling this year. In McCarthy and the players' defense, they've got to be scratching their would think the tide will eventually break their way?

One would think, but for every bad break with officiating or replays, there have still been multiple opportunities in each game to win. Yes, the Packers have had a lot of bad breaks to overcome, but they've made their own lives harder, too.

Brett from Oshkosh, WI

I'm so sick of the terrible replay reversals, bad penalty calls, inconsistent officiating, etc. And I watch every game I can. It's league-wide. I seriously want to stop watching, but I can't. It's like I'm begging for a headache every time I come back, but I always do. Any theory as to why I feel this way? I can't figure it out.

Sorry, Charlie Brown, but you'll have to find Lucy, and don't forget to bring a nickel.

Markus from Sea Ranch, CA

The QB rating, red-zone efficiency and turnover differential are critical factors regarding the outcome of a game, as is the often overlooked CCD. Also known as the Controversial Call Differential, where subjective officiating takes the ball out of the hands of players and coaches, impacting the final score and often making the game unwatchable, imparting adverse psychological effects of the losing team fan base as well. The CCD for the Packers this season is at an NFL record low.

Or you can give your nickel to Markus.

Gary from Davenport, IA

This is in response to the question about the Packers' record when Crosby misses his first field-goal attempt of the game. My research shows a 20-16 record during the regular season and 1-2 in the postseason. The Packers have lost the last six such games (five regular season, one postseason), but won the previous five games.

A number of folks tackled this, and the overall numbers varied slightly in readers' research, but the recent results didn't. Generally speaking, it sounds like the Packers had been winning about two-thirds of the games when Crosby missed his first kick but haven't triumphed in that scenario in quite some time. It's an indication of how much this team's margin for error has shrunk.

Steve from Wabasha, MN

I'm with Tom. This next MN game is a must-win for me too. Can we move the ball on them again like we did in Lambeau in their dome?

Minnesota's defense is playing much better now than it was earlier in the season, so nothing will be easy. The Vikings have lost twice at home, but neither of those opponents (Bills, Saints) reached 300 yards. Minnesota lost the turnover battle in those two games by a collective 5-0. That's how you beat the Vikings at their place.

Dave from Deer Valley, AZ

Is it just me or has there been a trend in several recent games where on a crucial third-down play A-Rod is getting sacked and that pressure is coming straight up the middle?

Interior pressure has been a major disrupter to this offense, and it's a copycat league.

Josh from Hackensack, NJ

Gentlemen, love your perspective and insight. My issue with the challenge rule is that it becomes a strategy instead of getting the call right. They do nothing but booth reviews in the final two minutes but sometimes the key plays occur before that. I will deal with a longer game if it means getting the call right. Someday a clearly wrong call will affect the Super Bowl and the team will be out of challenges. Think of Kansas City in the '85 World Series.

It's only a matter of time.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Mike, this season feels like "Groundhog Day." Mistakes, penalties, lack of execution on third down, lack of execution in the fourth quarter. You said this team would reveal itself...?

The last three late-night return flights from road trips have felt Groundhoggish to me, for sure. I'd give almost anything for a different feel to the next one, aside from the time and distance.

Brad from Solon Springs, WI

Still avid with hope here. I went back and watched the second-half film and was surprised to see there were several A. Jones runs that were stopped at or near the line. Watching it live, I thought we had totally abandoned the run. Seattle D just shut it down and forced the pass. What is your opinion?

With Graham out of the game, the Seahawks looked comfortable committing to the run, helping on Adams, and covering anyone else one-on-one. Rodgers burned the blitz with the deep ball to Adams early in the fourth, but that might have been the only time they blitzed in the second half.

Deniz from Munich, Germany

I disagree with Spoff there...the game is too close to play it safe and don't give the refs something to see to avoid flags. In such a contested and professional league a player has to be able to play as close to the line as possible without getting flagged!

And how's that working on special teams for the Packers?

Patsi from Riverside, CA

How many times has Aaron Rodgers matched up against Kirk Cousins, and what is the record of the two quarterbacks against each other?

Three, and it's 1-1-1. Green Bay won the '15 wild-card game in DC, Washington won on SNF in '16, and then the Week 2 tie at Lambeau this year.

Bob from Melbourne, Australia

The nutshell that encapsulates the reasoning behind Le'Veon Bell's decisions can be further distilled into two words: Earl Thomas.

Whose bird was the word.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Team anger over the blown chance to come back against the Rams centered on a player and the locker room was apparently settled by quick removal of the offender. Now not just to fans, but to players, handing the ball over on fourth-and-2 appears to have team jaw-grinding focused on leadership. By magnitudes, such undercurrents are more disruptive to team chemistry. Belief in MM and buying into the system are so key to success, this looks to be an infinitely harder fix.

The challenge in front of McCarthy right now is a big one, and he knows it. He said as much himself last Friday. It's part of the deal. This might be an even tougher challenge than 4-6 two years ago coming off two straight blowout losses.

Ron from Balsam Lake, WI

I read a quote online made by players from Seattle's O-line, complaining about Green Bay's D-line yelling coverages to one another after they were set, which according to the Seattle players was interfering with their cadence, which led to their five false starts, which forced them to resort to a silent count. Does the defense have to remain silent after the O-line is set?

Not at all. Defenders can bark and holler all they want. They just can't mimic a cadence or snap count.

Stephen from Washington, DC

How about that Tonyan kid? I think that was my favorite play from the last few games.

I think that was my favorite play of the whole season, so far.

Will from Rochester, MN

Holmgren...Hall of Famer?

I've always felt if Holmgren had won one of the other two Super Bowls he went to, he'd have been a shoo-in. If that's true, then the question that needs to be asked is should the result of one game keep someone out of Canton? I don't know.

Robert from Pflugerville, TX

Chubb, not a defensive player. Just sayin' …

Nick, no. Bradley, yes.

Carl from Simi Valley, CA

Do the replay officials take into consideration the reactions of the players involved? In this case Moore didn't act as if he had caught the ball and fumbled. His reaction looks like he dropped a pass. In Detroit the players didn't react as if King touched the ball. I just don't get it.

That may sound good, but players could try to sell calls, too, and I don't think we need Al Riveron judging anyone's acting ability.

Greg from Marquette, MI

If if's and what's were candy and nuts the Packers would never go hungry.

And neither would any team in the NFL.