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Inbox: This is the ultimate game-by-game league

There’s no understating what it means to win your one shot

Packers DL Tyler Lancaster, DL Kenny Clark, LB Za'Darius Smith and DL Dean Lowry
Packers DL Tyler Lancaster, DL Kenny Clark, LB Za'Darius Smith and DL Dean Lowry

Markus from Aurora, CO

Happy Thanksgiving, Insiders! That's all ...

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Mitch from Georgetown, KY

Come to balance. I see what you did there.

You were the only one to write in with an acknowledgement. I trust you weren't the only reader who caught it.

Paul from Farnborough, UK

Dear Wes/Spoff, at least Aaron Rodgers only has to get "hot" rather than run the table. I'll settle for that.

Me, too.

Terry from Onalaska, WI

That line-drive onside kick was the highlight of the Thanksgiving day games. The Lions figured it out. Do you think we are going to see other teams putting this in their playbooks?

As a surprise onside kick, it's fairly low risk because if you miss your target, you might not give up a ton of field position as long as the ball doesn't go out of bounds. No one's going to be fooled by that late in the fourth quarter during a comeback scenario, though.

Roger from McGrath, AK

In the Bears-Lions game, a Bears receiver made a contested catch with a bobble (ruled a catch) in the red zone but a Lions defender clearly committed an uncalled PI. If the Lions challenged the catch and won the challenge, could the Bears counter-challenge the PI on the same play?

I would imagine so. Patricia said after the game he didn't challenge it because he never saw a clear replay, but if the video definitively had shown no catch, that would have gotten very interesting.

Jeff from Coventry, RI

Sometimes I just wonder what LaFleur could've done with Taysom Hill.

You're not alone.

Bill from Lenexa, KS

PLEASE tell me Mason Crosby was watching the NO-ATL game last night and learned Koo's tricks of the onside kick? I never seen anything like it!

Koo got some funky bounces, but the Saints put on a clinic on how not to block the guys on the kicking team. That old line about fool me once, fool me twice … what about three times? I will give Dan Quinn credit for the new way coaches have to manage the clock with late-game comebacks, though. By kicking the field goal early, with two minutes left and three timeouts, he gave his team a chance to get the ball back if it didn't get the onside kick. That's how those two-score scenarios should be played now, which I talked about earlier this year. Get the first score as soon as you can to increase your options and odds.

David from Oak Hills, CA

It's amazing how little focus is on Seattle. If the Niners lose at Baltimore Sunday, and the Seahawks beat the Vikings in front of the "12th Man," then Seattle would be sitting in first place after Week 13 since they already beat SF in the first meeting. The Niners could end up being a dangerous wild-card team especially with SF having to play at Seattle in Week 17.

All the Seahawks have to do is stay one game behind the Niners and they can take the NFC West from them in Week 17. That finale could produce a similar scenario to the Packers-Lions finale in '14, with the winner getting a division title and first-round bye, and the loser hitting the road as a wild-card team the following week.

Brian from Sussex, WI

I have a question for the readers to think about. If MN beats Seattle, there's a good chance GB needs to beat MN to win division. But if GB does beat MN, Seattle losses would be desired for potential first-round bye in playoffs. Who you root for Monday night is based on your mindset: root for the result that ensures playoff berth first and worry about seeding later, or the result that impacts a team GB doesn't play with confidence they take care of business against the teams they do.

I'm always one who looks at the division title first, because that guarantees you one home postseason game regardless. The best part about Monday night's game is it's helpful to the Packers, because both of those teams can't win this week.

Jeff from Athens, WI

Looks like this week could be the big start to the NFL elimination round. As top teams win, other teams get eliminated from playoff contention.

With the Cowboys losing to the Bills, the Rams are the only team outside the top five in the NFC that can afford to lose another game and still have a mathematical chance at 10 wins.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

I know the Packers have to be focused on performing better on this week's road trip and just beating the Giants. That said, a 12-4 team has never been a No. 6 seed. Could it happen this year?

Entirely possible.

JR from East Moline, IL

The 2014 Super Bowl champion Patriots lost to the 9-7 Chiefs, 41-14. The 2018 Super Bowl champion Patriots lost to the 9-7 Titans, 34-10. I'm sure the list goes on. The Niners are really good. The Packers have lost to a team a couple years removed from a Super Bowl win who barely lost in the playoffs last year, a team with an arguably HOF QB who was 12-4 last year, and the team with the best record in football. Let's all just chillax. Get into the playoffs.

My favorite for "the list" is the 2008 Cardinals. In Week 15, they lost to the Vikings, 35-14, then in Week 16 lost to the Brady-less Patriots, 47-7, and came within a Santonio Holmes toe-tap of a Super Bowl title. I'm not going to say the Packers don't have their issues, but this is the ultimate game-by-game league. You get in and roll the dice.

Chris from Edmonton, Alberta

Good morning guys! Just curious, and forgive me if this is a dumb question. Can players be signed from one practice squad to another, or are they required to be signed onto the active roster? If they can, is there any benefit for players to do that?

A player signed off of another team's practice squad must be placed on the active roster, and he's guaranteed a minimum of three game checks. He can make almost as much money in those three weeks as he would spending an entire season on a practice squad.

Jim from Fort Laramie, WY

The Packers have far exceeded my expectations so far. With a new coach, 8-3 at this juncture would have been far better than I hoped for. But the 49ers, Seahawks, Ravens and Patriots all seem to be more aggressive and more physical, especially on defense. They hit harder and tackle more surely. To me, that's the big difference. Do you think the Packers can strengthen their tackling and become more physical up front without the addition of new faces?

That's a legitimate question, but for the offseason. As an old friend of mine frequently used to say, help is not on the way. Or at least nothing that's likely to help tomorrow. The Packers have what they have. They're pretty good with plenty of room to improve, and time to do so. Final evaluations are for when it's all said and done.

Tom from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Wes said Rashan Gary isn't an inside linebacker; neither was Clay, look at the defensive improvement with the move. Seems it is time to shake things up a little, the D needs help.

I don't think a dramatic position switch with a rookie is the answer, though. Matthews was a sixth-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowler at the time in 2014. Completely different situation.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Spoff, it should be qualified that SUCCESSFULLY running the ball creates better third-down situations. The images of D.J. Jones going full TECMO in the prior game are still with me and MLF must have seen how the consistent gap penetration would have made additional inside zone runs useless. Other than Aaron Jones hitting two edge runs there were no openings all night. For all the warts the Giants have they have some big new talent at DT. We need to see some scheme changes helping the center block.

In the midst of a very good season, Corey Linsley had a rough game, and the Packers had no adjustments or answers, partly because they were having a hard enough time dealing with the edges. I'm not going to say Linsley suddenly isn't up to the job. I expect the veteran to bounce back. He's as quietly prideful as they come.

Jeff from Coventry, RI

I read a stat that said that after Jones caught 7/159 in KC, he's had 1/-1 the last three games combined. Have defenses taken that away, or have we?


Cameron from Wayland, MI

When LaFleur blamed coaching, did he mean they need to get the players to play better or they need to give them better plays?

Again, both.

Luke from Fort Worth, TX

Good morning II, I've seen before that local fans shovel the snow and ice in the stadium prior to home games. Is there a donation account set up for their hard work? I think a Venmo account would get a lot of proceeds for supplies and/or hot drinks and food. Just a suggestion. Happy Thanksgiving guys, appreciate everything y'all do.

When the snow shovelers are summoned, they are paid an hourly wage.

Tony from Flower Mound, TX

Playoffs?! Playoffs! Does anything specific determine which games are played on Saturday and Sunday during the Wild Card and Divisional rounds of the playoffs?

They try where possible to get the best matchups in the two premier time slots, which are Saturday night and late Sunday afternoon.

Jim from Westboro, WI

Looks to me like the 49ers took a page from the Patriots, Lombardi's Packers and the Cowboys, when Aikman played for them. Control the line of scrimmage, control the game. Good line play makes stars out of average players. Do you think San Francisco is built to last awhile?

It depends whether or not they can keep all those young, high draft picks on defense together when their second contracts come around.

Deb from Green Bay, WI

I am very thankful for the atmosphere and attitude at Lambeau Field. I believe all of "us" need to make sure it stays that way so that it continues to be a great place to experience football. I was at SB XLV and remember how impressed I was with the Steeler fans and how respectful they were after the game. That's the way it should be at every stadium.

I think it is that way at several, and comments in this column shouldn't be construed to mean Packers fans are one of a kind in this way. There are more than a handful of places I wouldn't recommend wearing an opposing jersey, though, and unfortunately those locales get all the attention.

The Green Bay Packers held practice on Thursday, Nov. 28, in preparation for their Week 13 matchup with the New York Giants.

Matt from Marinette, WI

I know we (fans) like to insert our opinions on how we need to pick all these big-name players, but look at the Rams. They were one of the Super Bowl favorites at the start of the season. Now it looks like they way overpaid their premium positions. We look good for this year and years to come. As bad as the last game was, we still control making it into the playoffs. It's anyone's game after that.

The Rams mortgaged a lot of future to get to a Super Bowl and to try to get back again with the core they currently have. Through a different lens, it just goes to show how important it is to win the big one when you do get there. As much as I wish the Packers had gone to more Super Bowls in the McCarthy era, when you look at teams like the Rams, Falcons, Panthers and 49ers, there's no understating what it means to win your one shot.

Dave from East Burke, VT

The NFL website said the Packers are 2-0 after a loss. How is that possible if we have three losses?

Too much turkey, Dave? Or are you desperately seeking induction into the Insider Inbox Hall of Fame?

Steve from Middletown, KY

Doesn't every team want to be a Super Bowl winner? To go from missing the playoffs the last two seasons to Super Bowl winner would be quite the Cinderella story. Sure, we have high expectations for our team, but we need to temper that just a bit. Love the additions we've made to the team, from players to coaches. The future is bright. Clean up some of the problems discussed, and with a little luck thrown in, we still have a shot.

Happy Friday.