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Inbox: They've been doing it all season

Brian Gutekunst built this team up for instant success, while not losing sight of the bigger picture

Head Coach Matt LaFleur, WR Davante Adams
Head Coach Matt LaFleur, WR Davante Adams

John from Yakima, WA

I nominate Cheryl from Strawberry Point, IA, for the II Hall of Fame – that quote is the best!

It brought a smile to my face as soon as Spoff unboxed the frames. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. Now, we have some football to discuss. Good morning!

Pete from Fontana, CA

First and foremost, thank you Mike and Wes for providing the fans around the world extensive game insight and answering fan questions. This year feels to me like a famous saying: "It don't matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning is winning." Can the Packers' offense keep up with the rest of the NFL's top contenders?

They've been doing it all season. This offense may not be as dominant as 2011 or 2014 but it can play with anyone in any given week. This Packers team can win in more ways than any other I've covered to this point. That's how they're 12-3.

Jack from Chicago, IL

I don't think I have seen it mentioned, but Dean Lowry had another great game. He had the batted down pass early in the game and some good tackles. I know his stat sheet didn't light up like "97" or "55," but 94 was impacting plays. On another hand, the Inbox is getting into chortle territory. Short week heading into Detroit and they are going to be looking to play spoiler. Can't wait for Sunday.

I've made a lot about Clark's December and deservingly so, but Lowry, too, has come on. Aaron Rodgers gave him an unprompted shout-out on Thursday. Lowry has made his share of big plays this year, but he's also one of several reasons the Packers are defending the run as well as they have all season right now.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Honestly. I didn't think it was possible for a defensive line (Green Bay's) to be so dominant on the road in a dome. Is it realistic to hope for that level of disruption in Detroit against a team that went toe-to-toe against the Packers at Lambeau?

It's not just realistic. I think it's expected. David Blough is an undrafted rookie quarterback playing with a banged-up offense, but the Packers have to approach this with a playoff mindset. I look for the Smiths, Clark and Co. to keep the pressure on.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

Ever feel kind of sorry for the opposing quarterback? As the game wears along, it must seem like more and more Mr. Smiths coming at you.

By the fourth quarter, I did feel bad for Kirk Cousins. So much is made about his performances on Monday Night Football, but Cousins had a pass rusher in his face every time he dropped back in the second half.

Derek from Norton, KS

The Packers have a lot to play for in Week 17, but at the end of the day the Super Bowl can't be won or lost. Do you see the Packers taking any precautions with injured or veteran player or is it "all in"?

It's an interesting question that's impossible to answer without knowledge of each player's injury. For example, it might make sense to protect Jamaal Williams after he left with a shoulder injury on Monday night. But if he is OK to go, then that helps protect Aaron Jones going into the playoffs. We'll all know soon enough.

Benjamin from Bear, DE

I didn't hear Aaron Rodgers mention his third interception of the season during any press conference. I see that pick as a good thing, going into the playoffs. I think anyone will take another 200 or 300 passes without an interception. Any thoughts?

My thought is it's insane that was the first INT Rodgers has thrown all season that can be attributed to him. Receivers had their hands on the other two and were unable to corral them.

Peter from Durham, England

Hi II, do you think the Packers might get a little overconfident after beating a substandard Vikings team without their star running backs heading into the playoffs? I hope this isn't our best win of the season and the whole squad stays grounded for the playoff run. Keep up all the good work, Wes and Mike.

I don't think that'll be the case. I expect the Packers to be on high alert entering Ford Field for two reasons – the veterans who haven't been in the playoffs for two years and the young players who've yet to experience an NFL postseason. That locker room has been working its tail off for eight months to be in the position these players have put themselves in. They have no plans on wasting it.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Since their meeting earlier this year, the Packers and Lions saw their seasons turn completely different directions. How important is it to not let one loss, no matter how stinging, define your season?

Critical. And each time the Packers have lost, they've come back stronger.

David from Jerusalem, Israel

If the Packers players need any more motivation this Sunday, this game is a two-for-oner. Win against Detroit and it's also like automatically winning a first-round playoff game. Given how the Pack rolled over in last year's finale against the Lions, how fired up will they be this year at Ford Field?

With all due respect for the Lions and what they've had to go through with injuries this year, the Packers need to beat a three-win team to get a first-round bye. I'd say this is as favorable as any scenario the Packers have encountered when it comes to Week 17 games since 2011 when you consider the winner-take-all games in 2013 and 2016, and what was at stake in 2012, '14 and '15.

Greyson from Ann Arbor, MI

Which NFC team do you think is the Packers' most formidable opponent?

I like the Packers' chances against Seattle and New Orleans, especially at Lambeau Field. Despite everything that's happened over the past few weeks, I'd still label San Francisco as the Packers' most formidable opponent in the NFC. Because much like Green Bay, the 49ers can win in a multitude of different ways.

Gavin from Tauranga, New Zealand

G'day from New Zealand, what a season eh? "12" said early on of the Niners that "we need to beat them there once." Apart from having a healthy roster, what are the most important changes that are needed to reverse the result of the loss and in SF?

Execution and explosive plays. San Francisco's defense doesn't give up many big gains. When the 49ers blink, the opposition needs to turn it into points. The Packers fell short in that area. Furthermore, you need to have a consistent answer for George Kittle. This current defense is better suited to do that with Ibraheim Campbell settled in and Adrian Amos playing his natural position again.

Dave from Germantown, TN

When is the last time the Packers' defense held a team to fewer than 10 first downs and 150 yards of total offense?

I had to go back to the 2014 game (aka Rodgers calf game) in Tampa Bay when the Packers held the Buccaneers to only 109 total yards and six first downs. If there's a more recent game, I couldn't find it. It was almost the Buffalo shutout last year – 145 total yards and 11 first downs. Against San Francisco in 2015, the Packers held the 49ers to only eight first downs and 196 total yards.

Richard from Menasha, WI

Both Jamaal Williams and Danny Vitale did not participate today. That is concerning. How is Dexter Williams looking in practice? Is he ready to go?

It's a weird week coming off the Monday night game, so it's hard to say right now what their availability will look like for Sunday. Dexter Williams is there if the Packers need him against the Lions. The same goes for Tyler Ervin, who played a handful of snaps on offense against the Vikings.

Scott from Palos Park, IL

Brian Gutekunst found some help for the return game and Tyler Ervin appears to be deserving of the additional touches he got in Minnesota. Plus, Gute has improved our OL depth in the last few weeks. Does he know about a magic "TREE" that Vic insisted didn't exist?

There rarely are players on the open market who can be thrown into the lineup and improve your team in-season. However, that doesn't mean you can't find complementary players to help you navigate a long, arduous season. Ervin and Campbell have been those guys, and Ryan Grant and Jared Veldheer are an injury or two away from being important postseason insurance policies, as well.

Doug from Wausau, WI

Any chance we can get the food service/concessions folks to name a menu item "Wes's Lunch"? It could be packaged with the commemorative "I went to a Lambeau Field and all I got was Wes's lunch" T-shirt.

Your move, Packers. It sure sounds like a great giveaway next season to the first 1,000 fans wearing bifocals to a Packers home game.

Matt from Waukesha, WI

Do you see Rashan Gary getting more snaps in Sunday's game?

The Packers obviously want Za'Darius and Preston Smith on the field as much as possible, especially once the playoffs begin. Depending on how the first half goes against Detroit, however, this could be an opportunity to get Gary more involved.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

What is your assessment of Rashan Gary's development this year? I like to watch players develop, and "The Tortoise and the Hare" story seems to apply to the Packers' plan for Rashan this year, especially playing behind the Smith duo. But I can see improvement.

As I wrote last week, Gary is making the most of his opportunities. The Packers aren't asking him to be Za'Darius or Preston Smith right now. They want him to be a 22-year-old rookie learning from two of the best at his position. According to Pro Football Focus, Gary has 15 pressures in 136 pass-rushing snaps.

Dennis from Seal Beach, CA

Longtime fan (Waukesha native). First-time writer. Like most fans I tend to watch nervously. But even after the third turnover, there was something in the intensity of the defense that caused me to feel certain of a positive outcome. Likewise, the offense felt resolute they would handle business. Cousins look scared and confused. How far does confidence carry a team through the playoffs?

Confidence is everything, in any sport. All that matters starting Monday is whether you feel like you can beat any team in front of you to claim the game's ultimate prize. And that's where the Packers' headspace is at the moment.

Aaron from Brooklyn, NY

For anyone still hung up on the narrative about how bad our offense is because we don't have the yards, four of the top 10 offenses by yards (TB, ATL, LAR, LAC) are not going to the playoffs, and the NFL's "best" offense (DAL) needs some help to make the playoffs. And if you look only at passing yards, that number jumps to six of 10. It may be a QB-driven league, but it still takes 53 players to make a team.

Yards don't win or lose games. Points win or lose games.

Mike from Augusta, GA

How much momentum do you think Gute has for NFL executive of the year? I can't think of any GM who has done more in a short time. Brought in four free agents and ALL of them hit! Not sure that's ever happened. Scored an extra first-rounder while still getting Jaire Alexander. Made tough calls on some Packer legends who were on the downside of their careers that turned out to be correct. I can't think of any GM more worthy!

I'll bang the drum for Gutekunst until all the ballots are turned in. The stakes were high in March and he hit the jackpot. Gutekunst built this team up for instant success, while not losing sight of the bigger picture. He signed the right players, held onto his draft picks and is still unearthing gems as we speak.

Josh from El Sobrante, CA

Hey II, hope your Christmas was wonderful! As I was listening to my daily dose of "Packers Unscripted" the thing I really enjoyed was Mike's statement that the game vs. DET is almost like winning your first playoff game. Can we CC: Coach ML and the Big Dog ML to add that into their pregame speeches? Seems like a great way to add fuel to the fire.

Matt LaFleur echoed that same line when he stepped to the podium later that day. If LaFleur is saying that to the media, you can bet that's a message he's driving home this week in the team meeting room.

Paul from Bay View, WI

Guys, with the emergence of Marshawn Lynch returning to the Seahawks, would it be that far-fetched to think we could use Jordy Nelson during this stretch run in the postseason? If we do get that bye week by beating Detroit, I'm sure Jordy would have enough time to prepare. I just think having No. 87 on the field could make No. 12 more confident regardless of how much Jordy could even contribute. I'm hoping you guys could make sense of it in some way? Why not?

I knew this was coming. Right after I saw the Seahawks re-signed Lynch, I said to one of my colleagues, "Well, that's going to open the floodgates on the Jordy questions."

Janet from Brown Deer, WI

The Packers have been winning ugly and it's been entertaining, but can you win a Super Bowl ugly?

Peyton Manning was benched for Brock Osweiler the year the Broncos won it. Winning ugly all the way to a championship is possible.

David from San Antonio, TX

During the ML presser on Christmas Eve, I was impressed with the caliber of the questions from the media, maybe because they asked about things I wanted to know! How do you assess the room and are you all collegial with one another? Thanks for the great work!

I like them all other than Demoski. I kid, I kid. I don't know what it's like in other markets but I've always found Green Bay to be a very collegial beat. We're all competitive but there's a lot of mutual respect. Matt Schneidman has been a fun addition, too, this year.

Steve from Wauseon, OH

We are making our first trip to Ford Field on Sunday. What are the chances of running into an II "celebrity"?

Not good. I don't believe Margeaux will be at the game.

Bill from Piedmont, SC

Just curious, as are others. Average Inbox readers daily? Highest all time? Also, every game my neighbor comes and watches on NFL ticket, the Packers have won.

I've answered this question before but I want to use this to mention how blown away I was by the amount of engagement the Christmas edition of the Inbox received. I was expecting Saturday numbers. Instead, it was one of our most read columns of the season (that wasn't a postgame II). So thank y'all for that.