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Inbox: They all get more important from here on out

Nothing beats game day


Megan from Quincy, IL

If Monday night was the most important game we played all season, Sunday feels just as important. We can't count on anyone but ourselves to obtain that first-round bye.

They all get more important from here on out.

Cheryl from Strawberry Point, IA

No! It was Bruce from Jackson, WI, that gets the credit for that quote, I just copied it.

We know, Cheryl, and now everyone else has been reminded as well. Thanks again.

Benjamin from Rabbit Shuffle, NC

Insiders, in the "It can't be a one-time thing" article, OC Nathaniel Hackett stated "It's that last game of the year. You have to be ready for anything." What kind of stunts do you see the Lions pulling in this game with nothing to lose?

As special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga also said Thursday, everything is on the table. Fake punts, onside kicks, flea-flickers, Philly specials. Take nothing for granted.

Carlo from North Canton, OH

I think it would be fantastic if the Packers win on Sunday, and the Saints end up as the No. 3 seed. Then the Vikings would have to go to New Orleans. Wouldn't that make for some nice drama?

The last two playoff games between those teams have been doozies, for sure. Anything that keeps the Packers from having to play in the Superdome, I'm all for.

Frank from Green Bay, WI

Insiders, I know it's all about playing Detroit, but one last comment from the Vikings game. MVS's block on Jones' 56-yard TD run is the epitome of teamwork. Yeah, he may have dropped the big opportunity catch vs. Chicago, but he made up for it in a way a lot of folks would not have expected. MVS is contributing on this journey and that is all that matters.

Did you notice, after three pass-catchers put the ball on the ground in the first half in Minnesota, how MVS covered up that ball like his life depended on it when he caught his one pass Monday night in the third quarter? I saw it right away.

Ryan from Colfax, WI

Do all of the fumbles on Monday night speak to coincidence or the Vikings seeing something on film regarding the Packers' ball security being suspect? After those three fumbles I nearly had a heart attack when King was palming the ball away from his body after his interception.

You weren't the only one. Several readers have mentioned the same thing, and I leaned over to Wes during that runback and said, "Hang onto the ball."

Brian from Rockaway, NJ

"A couple of receivers quit trying to bring Kendricks down on that play when it was never blown dead. Not good. That's why Jones had to make the play." The refs' whistles may not have blown, but that horn sure as heck did. Most players probably figured the play was over since the horn was blowing.

I went back and re-watched it with the sound (I generally mute all my viewing) and you're absolutely right, the horn did blow. Ridiculous, really. I hope the league took notice.

David from Florence, AZ

How does A. Jones' season compare to other backs in the number of carries to get to 1,000 yards?

Of the 12 players who have reached 1,000 rushing yards this season (including Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson), half of the yards-per-carry averages are higher than Jones' 4.7, and half are lower.

Eric from Stramproy, Netherlands

II, did you hear Jason Garrett's answer on when he'll be thinking about his future? "Sometime in the future." I laughed out loud. He stays on an even keel, and doesn't let football peripherals dictate his life. Refreshing, still.

Garrett's as down to earth as they come in the coaching business. Whether or not he's coaching his last game for the Cowboys on Sunday, he owns the second-longest tenure in that franchise's history, by a wide margin. There's something to be said for that.

James from Asheville, NC

The Packers give up an early turnover and touchdown to the 49ers and proceed to get blown out. They give up an early turnover to the Vikings and hold them to a field goal, setting the tone for a big win. It really is a matter of games turning on a handful of plays, isn't it?

Every moment matters in big games.

Steve from Alexandria, VA

Looking ahead to the prospect that we will face a playoff opponent with a super-quick defensive front that makes it crucial to get the ball out quickly on first and second down as we did against the Vikings, how might we counter a defense playing press coverage on Davante in particular? Part of the answer obviously is to run the ball effectively, but how else could we not see a repeat of what the 49ers' front four did to us?

Well, block better, first and foremost, and I think the Packers' offensive line has been exceptional since the San Francisco game with the exception of the fourth quarter vs. Chicago. But the counters with the receivers can include bunch formations, rubs and crossers. Or isolate Adams on one side opposite a bunch formation on the other and see where the safeties cheat. If a team wants to press Adams at the line with no cloud or rover over the top, I'll take that matchup.

David from San Francisco, CA

I'm pretty sure both of Rodgers interceptions last season were off Jimmy Graham's hands as well, going nearly two full seasons without a legit pick. It was weird seeing that on Monday.

Yeah, it was, though multiple defenders through the year have dropped potential picks, too. Either way, glad he got it out of his system and the Packers still won.

Justin from Milwaukee, WI

Is the NFC going to be decided by home-field advantage? Green Bay, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Seattle are all incredibly difficult places for opponents to win. Looking at the potential matchups, it's hard to see any of those teams losing at home.

Yet all of those teams also have won big road games. Green Bay won at Minnesota, San Francisco won at New Orleans, New Orleans won at Seattle, Seattle won at San Francisco, and if Philadelphia gets in, Philly won at Green Bay. This is going to be some January.

Rex from Dillsboro, IN

Hey guys, I'm confused on how if everything happens for the Raiders that they need to happen they would have the same record as Titans but the Titans destroyed them a few weeks ago. Wouldn't head-to-head be next?

The Oakland scenario is rather fascinating. The Raiders essentially need a big traffic jam at 8-8 for the last spot and then they can win a strength-of-victory tiebreaker, because head-to-head results don't decide things in multi-tie situations if all the teams haven't played each other.

Rob from Louisville, KY

First time submitting a question but I enjoy the II every day. If you look at Jordy Nelson's 2010 regular-season stats they are eerily similar to Allen Lazard's: 45 catches for 582 yards for Nelson in 16 games versus 31 for 408 for Lazard in nine games. No games with more than five. Jordy blossomed in the playoffs that year. Deja vu?

No one would complain, but it should be pointed out it was Nelson's third year in the league by then, and he'd caught a TD pass in a playoff game the year before, so his experience was at another level.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

John Kuhn must have been suspended for a single "Three Things" taping for unnecessary roughness on Spoff.

He's appealing the decision to Commissioner McCarren.

Brian from Neshanic Station, NJ

The defense has been GREAT the last few games with opponents being held under 15 points. I see Gary getting some more reps which seems more for when one of the Smiths needs a breather. Since Pettine is creative and likes to apply pressures, think we could possibly see 55, 91, and 52 all on the field at once to throw in a wrinkle that opponents have yet to see on tape? If so, what's your take on the most formidable for coverage as a decoy in a pass-rush situation to try to force a QB mistake?

I'm pretty sure your suggestion is on tape. The Packers have used their top four outside linebackers on the field together in very sporadic third-and-long situations. Where Pettine gets creative is a lot of times one of them, usually Preston or Fackrell, drops into coverage, and a DB might become the fourth rusher. Other times he just goes with three, and it has been effective.

Casey from Knoxville, TN

Hi guys! I'm curious what your game-day responsibilities are. What does the day look like for you? I found myself wondering what Mike and Wes were up to as I watched all the pregame coverage and the game itself last week. :) I know you probably do pregame talks, tweet during, postgame coverage, etc., but I have a feeling you all are doing WAY more than any of us even realize. Go Pack Go, and thank you both for all you do to keep us all up to date with everything!

I'll give you the rundown on what my Sunday in Detroit will look like: Catch the bus to the stadium, do pregame Facebook Live/Periscope on the field with Wes, get up to the press box to grab a bite, answer a few non-game-related II questions for Monday's column before kickoff, live-blog the game on the site, write a bulletin story with final score and stats to post when the clock hits zero, attend the LaFleur and Rodgers postgame press conferences, write my Game Recap on the bus on the way to the airport, write my Editorial on the flight home, and then dive headfirst into the Monday morning II. A win over the Lions would also have me readying a bulletin to post with the Packers' finalized playoff seed when the 49ers-Seahawks game ends. It's exhausting, but nothing beats game day.

Chris from New Canaan, CT

You "felt bad" for Kurt Cousins? Nonsense! See yourself out, sir ... you're banned.

Floyd, I mean Wes, had a momentary lapse of reason.

Brian from Rochester, MN

An underrated improvement this season? Matt LaFleur's postgame speeches! At the beginning of the season he seemed lost and skittish – it was a little cringe-y to watch. He was using a notecard instead of speaking from the heart. You can see his confidence growing, and with it, the team's. And his speeches have greatly improved. There's a palpable cycle of team encouraging coach, coach encouraging team, and so on. There's something special in the air. Well done, coach! Time to make some history...

It's been cool watching him grow into every visible aspect of the head job.

Rob from Katy, TX

Biggest need to fix prior to playoff push?

On offense, it's scoring a higher percentage of the time when the ball crosses the 50. Too many missed opportunities in enemy territory the last month. On defense, it's continuing to minimize the explosives, which have come down dramatically and must stay down.

Corey from Bethlehem, PA

Do you get the sense that we still have yet to peak especially on offense? The Vikings game you could sense the offense was going to explode in the first half until those turnovers killed our momentum.

They're close. I really believe that (see above as well).

John from Mattituck, NY

The Packers just restructured Aaron Rodgers' contract to push money out. Is that a train whistle I hear?

The way this team manages its cap, if the Packers are moving money around, there's a really good reason for it. We'll have to see what that reason is.

Luke from La Crosse, WI

In the player-safety era, how is the league allowing Minnesota to celebrate injuring Rodgers by showing clips of it before the game? Just disgusting.

Apparently the Minneapolis Star-Tribune did a full-page spread of its top five sports moments of the decade, and Barr injuring Rodgers was on it. As a reporter with firm roots in the newspaper business, it bothered me when I first saw it. Then I started to wonder if that was the paper's acknowledgement the Vikings' best season of the decade wouldn't have happened without it, and I admit I kinda smiled.

Scott from Las Vegas, NV

Mike, I love the WYMM as it helps us viewers understand the complexities of the game. Do you earmark certain plays during the game that you might include in your write-up, or do you go back and re-review all of the plays after the fact to pick the plays you use?

There are always certain plays I want to look at more closely on film, but I try to find an understated theme as I go through all the plays on offense or defense and then pick the best examples. I also try to vary the themes throughout the season and not repeat topics already illustrated.

Dan from DeForest, WI

Do you know how many pass interference calls the Packers' defense has committed? Seems very low.

Two. Shhhhh.

Statham from Pineview, GA

It seems like each day there is a question related in some way to the SF loss and whether or not we can beat those teams (SF, NO, SEA). Can we pause for just a sec and remember that the Cowboys beat the Eagles 37-10 earlier in the season? How'd that turn out for the 'Boys the second time around, with the season on the line?

I continue to preach it's a week-to-week league because it's true.

Nick from Prescott, WI

I did not want to submit a question right away because I wanted a few days to digest that win. Thinking about it, I think that performance by Za'Darius Smith was the most dominant performance by a defensive player since Woodson was winning his DPOY. Za'Darius' stat line looks great, but does not even come close to showing how he could not be stopped that night. Can you recall, off the top of your head, a better performance by a defensive player since Woodson?

In a high-stakes game? Peppers in the '14 playoff game vs. Dallas comes to mind, but he was not start-to-finish dominant like Smith was against the Vikes. Smith whipped every single Minnesota offensive lineman for an impact play at some point in that game.

Greg from Virginia Beach, VA

Sunday night game...Niners versus Seahawks: It's Kittle versus Skittle.

Someone at NBC is going to think of that, right?

Howie from Saint Ignace, MI

Sorry Mike, but with all due respect it does matter to Packers fans living in Lion country how badly they beat the Lions. Lions fans are totally convinced the referees robbed them of a victory at Lambeau in October even though they were outplayed the last three quarters. I attended that game and was welcomed home with whining that went on for weeks. Although I would refrain from gloating, a lopsided Packers victory would be very gratifying.

To each his own. Just win, baby.

Steve from Excelsior, MN

Shouldn't the theme for this week be to go 2 and 0? This one is for extra credit.

I was waiting all week for LaFleur to say it at the podium, but he never did.

Connor from Detroit, MI

After a couple of downers in Detroit, all of us Michigander Packers are looking forward to when the lower bowl is all green gold at the final whistle.

I would love to see it. Enjoy the weekend, everybody.