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Inbox: They attack to win and it shows

Those turns have been super sharp

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WR Allen Lazard, RB Aaron Jones & TE Marcedes Lewis

Matt from Garland, TX

Thanks for the reflections to all. I have a friend who once said, "I didn't realize what a brutal game football is until I started playing fantasy and watched players go down weekly." Good news on Damar's progress.

To hear and see the positive news on Hamlin when I walked into the office on Thursday morning was a tremendous start to the day.

Jon from Lynn, MA

LEGO's rendition of Preston Smith sending Cousins into the Shadow Realm during Sav's pick-six was a thing of beauty.

Of many great renditions, those might be the best LEGO highlights of all time. The crossbar clunk, the band in the end zone … this one had it all.

James from Clearwater, FL

Mike, I've checked in with your live blog of the game and submitted comments but it never gets posted. Is there something else I need to do for the upcoming game? We bought a townhouse in Clearwater to spend the winter months and had a blast at a Packer bar for the first half. Figured it was smart to watch the second half at our home here!

I appreciate you logging in for the live blog, but honestly, getting posted during the chaos of that exercise is as random as it gets. There are usually more than 2,000 people logged on, and I know only a fraction write in, but the comment window is a fast-paced, constant scroll that I glance at when I can, and I'll click on something to post/respond to that happens to catch my eye. I guarantee I miss plenty of worthy comments, and I rarely even see whose screen name is whose. I'm just trying to hang in there to keep up the interaction but not lose my mind, truly.

Michael from New London, WI

I was wondering if Christian Watson is getting his due respect from league officials as a first-year player? He seems to get held or interfered with regularly with no call. Maybe he needs to learn how to sell illegal contact better and definitely use the offseason in the weight room to his advantage. Maybe with continued good play he will start to get a few calls.

I think with such a small sample size it's more a product of those particular officiating crews letting things go, but there is an art to selling contact as restrictive and increase the chances of getting a flag.

Keith from Dodgeville, WI

Guys, we have not seen Christian Watson get the ball on a jet sweep since the Bear game. I could see that working for a score against the Lions.

I'm sure if the coaches upstairs see a Detroit defensive reaction (or non-reaction) to Watson in jet motion that would indicate he has a chance to break one with the handoff, they'll pick their spot to try it.

Shaun from Cottage Grove, WI

If someone had to say, what was the single most important thing that changed over the last four games to go from 4-8 to 8-8?

I can't rank them to specify the most important item, because it's too close to call, but these are my top three: Watson and Keisean Nixon emerged to become high-impact players; the defense started generating a lot of turnovers; and Aaron Rodgers' thumb healed, reducing any (even minor) limitations with the offense and producing the more consistent play he's made the hallmark of his career.

Bruce from Menomonee Falls, WI

Forgive me if you've answered this already, but what do you see as the biggest factor(s) in Nixon's success as compared to his predecessor? His confidence? The confidence he instills in his teammates (motivating them to focus on their assignment/block better)? Adjustments made by coaches to highlight his particular skills? Something else?

It's all of the above, but there's also something about Nixon's fearlessness, aggressiveness and deceptive speed – that burst he has is deceptive to coverage players, I believe – that makes him unlike any other kick returner I've seen on this team in a long time.

Charlie from Waukesha, WI

I've searched in the Inbox and cannot find it. In the preseason, the Inbox gave the number of Packer kickoff attempts without a touchdown. What was the final number?

I came up with 420 in the regular season, 461 including playoffs.

Jeremy from Collegeville, PA

Do you think the Packers will re-sign Nixon in the offseason and do you believe this is the best special-teams unit in Rodgers' career?

I would think the Packers will try their best to not let Nixon get away, but there could be a rather robust market for his services as a returner and nickel corner, and I wouldn't blame him if he wants to check that out. The special teams in 2011 were pretty good, but I'd say this group is developing into the best in Rodgers' tenure. Its full body of work on the season won't look like it with Amari Rodgers' earlier fumbles, a blocked field goal (vs. Jets) and now a blocked punt, but on balance this group is getting to a good place.

Michael from Fall Creek, WI

I know, I know, just beat the Lions, but let's say the Packers win on Sunday night and sit at the 7 seed. Which of the potential WC matchups is most favorable to the current version of the Green Bay Packers?

I think the Packers would be ready to go play the Vikings again, no? Especially with Minnesota's offensive line so banged up. But here's another thought: I know I've said San Francisco is the best team in the NFC right now and playing like it, and I still believe that. But if you're going to have to beat the 49ers at some point, the best chance might be – I stress might be – when the rookie seventh-round pick at QB is making his first playoff start.

Dayna from Robbinsville, NJ

Morning. Do we have any idea who we would play if we win on Sunday?

Path to the Playoffs lays out all the possibilities.

Dave from Emmalena, KY

What do you think the chances are Dillon picks up at least 57 yards from scrimmage on Sunday to reach 1,000 for the year? The cold-weather game seems to be his kind of game.

True, and I like his chances, though he's fallen short of 50 each of the last two games or it would be almost a given by now. It is interesting that his 943 yards in 16 games is an average of 59 and he needs 57.

John from Stevens Point, WI

Bench Rodgers and see what they have in Jordan Love, or has that ship sailed/that train left the station?

Um, … well, … I can't help you.

Nathan from Manitowoc, WI

It's amazing how much the officiating changes over the course of the year. Earlier in the year they were calling ticky-tack illegal contact fouls. Now they are letting everything go. Imagine how different the Washington game would be if they didn't call the illegal contact on Stokes on the Douglas fumble return for a TD. Not that it's the wrong call, just that it's early in the year and the whole "point of emphasis" thing that is always forgotten by the end of the year.

Which is why the league should just cease and desist with the points of emphasis.

Bob from Myrtle Beach, SC

With Marcedes Lewis, Allen Lazard, Robert Tonyan, and Josiah Deguara, blocking, does Green Bay have two offensive lines?

I don't know if I'd go that far, but those guys all play a role in the ground game and do so not just unselfishly, but with gusto. They don't go through the motions blocking just because it's their assignment. They attack to win and it shows.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

Which surprised you most: that the Packers started out 4-8 or that they've been able to dig out of that hole and put themselves in this position?

Every season has its ups and downs, but in many respects I've just been overwhelmed by how much of a rollercoaster this one's been. As I said on "Unscripted," the Packers were 3-1 with a 10-point halftime lead over the now-playoff-bound Giants in London. 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.

Scott from De Pere, WI

It can't be undersold in my mind how important David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins are to this team. Also limiting Jones' carries during this stretch should provide him some extra juice. GPG!

I concur on all counts.

Ron from Cornell, MI

Guys, are we talking about our tackles' play against the Vikings' edge rushers enough? Tackle play will be a huge key for the Packers against the Lions' pass rush, agree?

Of course. We'll see whether it's Yosh Nijman or Zach Tom on the right side, but the Packers haven't had Bakhtiari for a game this big since the 2019 playoffs. Think about that.

Phil from Forest Lake, MN

Which player have you seen the most growth from this season?

My top three are Christian Watson, Kingsley Enagbare and T.J. Slaton.

Brian from Moncks Corner, SC

The Lions defensively suffer from really poor stats, yet have a high-flying offense. However, the stat that really has my attention is the Lions' leading the league in NOT turning the ball over. Road game in the elements with an improved ball-hawking Packer D sets the stage for who blinks first. Turnovers regularly tell the tale, but would you give this week's matchup increased significance on the Lions turning the ball over?

Definitely. Takeaways have fueled the defensive resurgence of late, so it seems only fitting, with the season on the line, that unit has to make it happen against the team that has protected the ball better than any other. Also, given Rodgers in the first meeting threw three interceptions for the first time in five years, if math were allowed in the Inbox, I'd say the turnover equation is to this game what a quadratic equation is to algebra.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

What's one overlooked aspect of Detroit's game that's fueling their success?

Badgley has given them a very reliable kicker, and they proved they have plenty of offensive weapons without Hockenson.

David from San Antonio, TX

How would you rank the following in terms of defensive impact: tweaks to scheme, personnel changes on D-line, energy and aggression?

Scheme adjustments were done, in part, to promote aggression, and the success with them has generated energy that wasn't to the same level before.

Andrew from Burke, VA

I think it is safe to say there are a lot of parallels between this year and the famous "run the table" season back in 2016. However, reaching the playoffs just felt even more improbable a few weeks back for all the reasons Spoff mentioned in his response to Thomas from Cedar Rapids. Is this feeling just recency bias, or was the probability of reaching the playoffs this year actually lower than in 2016?

It's been lower this year, even with the 17th game and seventh spot, which didn't exist six years ago. Back in 2016, the Packers were 4-6 but climbed above .500 in three weeks and then had three NFC North opponents to finish, when no one had taken command of the division. They knew if they won out to reach 10-6, they had a great shot at the division title or wild card. This team was essentially one quarter from elimination in Chicago, and even with that comeback to get to 5-8, there was a lot less certainty 9-8 would be good enough to get in.

Matthew from Portland, OR

Hi Insiders, let's take a different view. Is there any other game that would make more sense in the Sunday night time slot? Miami, New England and Pittsburgh should all play at the same time to determine the last AFC spot. There's at least a chance that Green Bay and Detroit are both fighting for the final NFC spot. I'll take that over a different matchup where the only implications are related to seeding.

The league could've put the AFC South title game on Sunday night, but it chose Saturday night instead, perhaps due to Tennessee being on its third-string QB. It's win-to-get-in for both the Titans and Jaguars, but the league passed on the no-muss, no-fuss finale option for better TV draws in both primetime slots. Look, I get it. I just don't agree with it.

Sean from Vermontville, MI

I, too, wish the Seattle outcome wouldn't be known before the game, but not just because it's not fair to the Lions. This Dan Campbell-led team will relish the role of spoiler, if that's all they can play for. Teams that don't have a next week are dangerous. If the Lions are eliminated before kickoff, we very well may see what's actually at the back of Campbell's playbook. I don't think "conservative" is in his lexicon, but these Lions are dangerous and tough no matter what.

First off, my point was it's unfair to the Seahawks. That aside, your view is very much the consensus in the Inbox, that the Lions could be more dangerous and unpredictable with nothing to lose. Several wrote in to express "anything would be on the table" for Detroit, which is why I was wondering about strategic and situational decisions. There's no way to know until we know.

Jacob from West Allis, WI

Was that the most purple you can recall seeing in Lambeau? Looking around during the one and only "SKOL" chant after the blocked punt really put the amount in to perspective. Regardless, the Packers fans in attendance brought it! I can't wait to lose my voice all over again!

I really hope to not see a lot of silver and blue Sunday, but regardless I do expect the home crowd to be a factor. No matter the outcome, this is the last meaningful game at Lambeau Field for eight months. These fans will not disappoint.

Russ from Henrico, VA

I for one enjoyed our first home playoff game and hope we do as well or better in this next one.

That, too.

Steve from Colorado Springs, CO

Much thanks to II for providing that support for Packer Nation. A lot of talk about hope and faith the past few weeks. After all, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. It strikes me that not only applies to fans, but more so than anyone to the players. And so far they have been unwavering in that faith, their collective belief in themselves I think is a big reason they have no quit and are getting it done. One more, and go from there.

Happy Friday.

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