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Inbox: There are no guarantees

Every team has question marks

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Green Bay Packers' Dean Lowry intercepts a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis.

Brian from Alta Vista, IA

Why do I feel like we will see a decibel gate sometime this season?

It seems inevitable, doesn't it?

Matthew from Teaneck, NJ

This is more of a bit of an explanation on the crowd noise rules. As a longtime audio engineer let's break down 70 db. Each 3 db is a doubling (logarithmic) and 85 db is the max allowed at movie theaters. 70 is roughly a 65 mph car at 25 feet or vacuum cleaner loud. Not overbearing but prominent. 85 is a lot louder. It's also a "wash," so not very variable either if they do what has been done at baseball games (very weird to hear crowd noise and see no one). More of a "cuss cover." Be safe!

Or the league could just hire Matthew and I'd be confident any and all sound scandals would be avoided.

Michael from Morrison, IL

Following up on Mike from Ames' question about oldest QB matchups, Aaron Rodgers/Brady may not set a new record, but could Brady/Brees this weekend surpass that?

Yes it will, as several readers pointed out, by roughly two years. Brady turned 43 a month ago and Brees will be 41 years, 8 months next Tuesday.

Brian from Moncks Corner, SC

Where have the Vikings improved the most since last year?

I think they're hoping it's up front with their offensive line. As Wes and I discussed on "Unscripted," this is the first year I can remember in quite some time Minnesota bringing back a starting five intact from the previous season. Dozier at guard wasn't a full-time starter last year but did start some games. A greater level of continuity, plus Bradbury and O'Neill being more experienced players now, is what they're counting on for that unit to take a step forward.

Bradley from La Crosse, WI

How many fans are the Vikings allowing in U.S. Bank Stadium this weekend for the opener?

None.

Alan from Mount Auburn, IL

I expect this week's games to be the highest-scoring week ever because of lack of real tackling practice, new personnel, unscouted formations and good weather. Do you agree? Do we know what the current record is for total points scored in a single week of games?

I don't have that list in front of me, but I did find that the highest-scoring Week 1 in NFL history was 791 points in 2012. Five teams went over 40 points in that opening week of games.

Craig from Laramie, WY

For the Packers Everywhere file: As in many past Septembers, I am in alone in elk camp at 9200'. Today I am riding out a winter storm in my wall tent, over a foot of snow already and still coming down. Happily, I have cell service and can keep up with all the Packers news. My question is will there be any "virtual" Packers Everywhere events or activities in light of COVID?

We are having virtual pep rallies for the first three road games. Here's the info on the first one Saturday night.

Bubba from Kenosha, WI

"...I keep saying the table is set for Robert Tonyan to break out this year." Besides Tonyan, there seems to be a higher number than normal of third- and fourth-year players with the opportunity to have breakout years...Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and Oren Burks. I include Josh Jackson (Pettine says he'll play significant minutes, now focused on one position and Coach Gray). If just two break out, add the potential of a rookie splash, and the usual leap of first-year players, I'm really excited for a team coming off 13-3.

As I've said all along, there are areas the Packers could be significantly better in 2020. But there are no guarantees, either. Will the pass rush be as good? Can Aaron Jones produce like that again? Can the team stay as healthy? Can it repeat a plus-12 turnover margin? Some of what produced 13-3 last year won't or can't be maintained, so breakouts and other improvements can help offset inevitable setbacks elsewhere.

Chuck from Santa Ana, CA

Which position group(s) do you think have probably improved from last year's team? And which position group(s) do feel might be a little worse than last year's team? My feel is that OLB is going to be even better than 2019 while I am concerned that OL is weaker than what we had.

This starting secondary playing another year together could take a talented group to another level. I also like what Rashan Gary can bring as a third edge rusher, and I like the depth at running back. But every team has question marks. Right tackle and tight-end production on offense, plus defensive-line depth and stopping the run consistently on defense, are the ones attached to the Packers. I think a lot of teams' question marks are more glaring than that.

Reed from York, PA

Is there a bigger roster surprise for previous Packers than Josh Jones being a starting SS for Jacksonville?

While Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is without a team and looking to latch onto his fourth different one since leaving Green Bay two years ago. As Ferris Bueller would say, "Life moves pretty fast."

Daniel from Allen, TX

Latching on to Dave from Rockford's question about why centers aren't used today to be the long snapper. In my younger years, the centers generally were the long snappers. My question for the II is, would you consider center to be the most taxing position to play, when you consider the physical and mental aspects of the game? You have to snap the ball, then engage some huge guy, then maybe another guy on a stunt. And you have to make all the line calls. To me it is like a catcher in baseball.

Interesting comparison. Combining the mental and physical demands, it's probably a close call between center and middle/inside linebacker, the latter because of the defensive signal calling and high number of tackles he's involved in.

Pat from Kennesaw, GA

When the COVID started and there were questions about fan attendance for each team, it was stated that the NFL would decide and it would either be fans or no fans. It wouldn't be left up to the teams because the NFL didn't want some teams having fans and some teams not. What happened? Why is Goodell now saying it's not really an advantage if some teams allow fans?

This is what I expected all along, for it to be left up to the teams and locales. The NFL never officially announced there would be a uniform policy. Some assumed there would be. In a year where revenue losses will be significant across the board, the NFL is not going to turn down any partial revenue streams that can be generated safely. Money outweighs total fairness in these circumstances, and I'm not the least bit surprised.

Paul from Mount Calvary, WI

Hi. A couple of money questions: 1) Do those players on the 53 who are inactive on game day still receive the same amount of salary as those suited up? 2) If a practice squad player is elevated to the roster for game day, does he receive the 53-man roster salary for that game, or does he still get the practice squad salary?

The answer to your first question depends on the player's contract. Some veteran players have per-game roster bonuses if they're active on game day as a financial protection for teams against injury. The answer to your second question is the player gets an active-roster game check equal to the league minimum salary for his years of experience.

Ryan from Colfax, WI

So, Spoff said that you won't be covering games in-person for road games. Does that mean you will be for home games?

Yes. We will be spreading out for home games – some from our department will be in the press box, others in an empty suite – but we are planning to have a live, in-person view of the games at Lambeau.

Jim from McLean, VA

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I would think the four protected players on the practice squad would be those the teams though most likely to be moved up to the 53. So wouldn't a player want to be protected?

Not necessarily, because unexpected injuries at certain positions could lead to other, non-protected players getting promoted.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Isn't it weird to read a player was placed on IR, and then have to remind yourself that's not a long-term thing this year?

Several roster-related rules are different this year. Wes put together a nice summary of them.

Monty from Hazen, ND

Many so-called experts have Minnesota and Chicago ahead of Green Bay in the North because Green Bay didn't do anything to get better. I really don't see how the Bears and Vikings got better this offseason. Am I missing something?

If the Bears get the quarterback play they're looking for, they have a lot of other pieces in place. The Vikings might have won the division last year and not the Packers had the injury situations for the Week 16 showdown been reversed. It's a difficult division to read. I've seen a lot of predictions pegging Green Bay, Minnesota and Chicago all with records no more than two games apart. Thin margins between wins and losses in the division would be nothing new.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

Can you please provide a recap or summary of the major officiating rule changes this year? Given everything going on this year and not knowing if there would even be a season, I wasn't paying attention to the final approved changes. But now that kickoff is almost here...

The biggest change is pass interference is no longer reviewable. That rule change from a year ago was scrapped. The league expanded the "defenseless player" designations to include a kickoff or punt returner "who has not had time to clearly become a runner." If the officials rule a return man has no chance to avoid or ward off impending contact, they're gonna flag the hit, even if it's after the ball arrives. All fourth-quarter pre-snap penalties (not just the ones inside five minutes left) will now result in the clock not starting again until the next snap, to avoid the clock games teams were playing with their punt teams protecting big leads. The only new "point of emphasis" for the officials is the rule on helmet use. Any lowering of the head to make contact with an opponent is going to be watched very closely.

Christopher from Frederick, MD

With Texans-Chiefs right around the corner, what will you specifically be looking for on opening night of a very unusual NFL season?

How clean the game looks and feels. That's going to give us a big indication heading into Sunday, and that look and feel of the game across Week 1 could have implications for offseason training and camp protocols moving forward.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

Is there, or will there be, a Packers Yearbook? I haven't seen one in the stores yet.

Yes! Thank you for asking. My biggest offseason project became available within the past week. Check the stores again where you normally find it. Shameless plug: Here's a link to order one online. Oh, also returning is my mid-week chat. Having one today at 11 a.m. CT for anyone who wants to log on.

Bob from Grand Rapids, MI

Wes's comment made me realize you two won't be sitting next to each other before or during the game. Will either or both of you still say, "The baloney (except not baloney) stops now?"

Count on it. I'll just have to message it electronically to our coverage team via our Slack channel.

Pat from Kewaskum, WI

If the horn is above 100 decibels (on the field I would assume?) can we have the laser goal posts cut it in half? As a side note I really appreciate the II. I have not been reading long but you never know what you are going to get – either spot-on seriousness with well thought-out answers or a 100 decibel Beer Barrel Polka. Thank you.

You're welcome. Happy Wednesday.

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