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Inbox: This one always means just a little bit more

It’s just been that kind of year for the Packers

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Former Packers LB Clay Matthews

Sean from Palatine, IL

Good morning, Wes! Here's your fun fact for the weekend: The Green Bay Packers are a perfect 5-0 following the Aarons' shared birthday since the 2017 season. Let's keep that birthday magic alive this week, shall we?

Happy birthday to the Aarons, indeed. Good morning!

Roger from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning, Wes. All season long I have been commenting on the Packers' opportunity to overtake da Bears for all-time wins. Each opportunity has been wasted. Is it apropos that the Packers can beat da Bears by beating da Bears? Go Pack Go! (By the way, da Bears still suck!)

It's right there for the taking. Who wants it? One way or another, I'm sure the honor will bounce between the two teams for years to come but it's another testament to the teams the Packers have fielded over the past 30 years that have allowed the organization to make up so much ground on Chicago to get to this point.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

I keep hearing how great Justin Fields is. He has won six games in two years. Let's be realistic.

It's better to be overprepared than underestimate the young man, especially after how things went last week against Jalen Hurts. You have to treat Fields like the threat that he is.

Shaun from Cottage Grove, WI

I believe Aaron Rodgers said he would be "open" to sitting if it got to that point in the season. If he "plans" on returning in 2023 and beyond, wouldn't it make more sense to keep playing to help get more live reps with the current roster and not worry about what is needed to be done with Jordan Love?

The day is Saturday. The month is December. The year is 2022. Rodgers' hand and rib are injured, but the Packers still have something to play for. This is where I am right now, mentally. I'll talk about Week 15 when it's Week 15. I'll talk about 2023 when it's 2023. Rodgers was not given a game status for Sunday. He's going to start. Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Wes, could you envision a situation where Love comes in for some situational RPO plays? Love could hand off the ball, keep the ball and pass, or keep the ball and run. Taysom Hill has been used successfully in this regard as a change of pace from the starting QB. We've seen first-hand how a QB with speed and mobility can move the chains and make the occasional big run. The Bears will certainly have opportunities if Fields plays. Why not us, too?

No, I don't see that happening. First, Hill's utilization is unique. In a sport where athletically gifted college QBs often make a full conversion to a new position, Hill has sort of broken that matrix and lived between those two worlds. Love, on the other hand, is a prototypical NFL quarterback – not a gadget player. Speed is part of his game, but it comes secondary to his arm talent.

Curt from Pine Island, MN

Is it true that Larry played a game just a few days after an appendectomy? How is that possible?

It was hernia surgery, actually. Hey, he wasn't called "The Rock" for nothing. An appendicitis is serious business, though. It isn't safe to lift a piece of luggage, let alone push around a 300-pound man for three hours. I'm wishing David Bakhtiari a quick and healthy recovery. It's just brutal it happened right when the offensive line was settling into place. It's just been that kind of year for the Packers.

Adam from Waterford, WI

What has been the biggest difference when watching the game film about the defense this year compared to last year? I don't have access to film like you guys, but I'd like to watch film and see what is different. Is it just poor play or another team executing better? Love reading the Inbox every day. Keep up the good work!

It's the tackling and takeaways. The Packers were a much better tackling team last season and haven't produced as many takeaways this year. I can't give you a blow-by-blow on what's different, but second-chance opportunities afforded to the opposition have really hurt the defense.

Vince from Sioux Falls, SD

Being a Pack fan since 1966, I don't see this year as being all that bad. Made lots of memories in the '70s when losing was normal and was always great watching players like Eddie Lee Ivery "running in perfect harmony." This year, I believe we have hit big time on our draft picks and believe we will be seeing the best 1-2 punch at WR on this team for years to come! I am very excited to be going up for the Monday night game with my daughter against Rams and hope to gain more memories! GPG

In Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, the Packers have identified two playmakers who can help build the future of this offense. It's not just their individual gifts, either. What intrigues me the most is how they can play off one another with their skill sets, when healthy.

Josh from Nicholasville, KY

No question, just a realization. In the Thursday night game, they mentioned that Stefon Diggs was in second place with 10 TD receptions. The fact that Christian Watson is only four down from that with all the injuries is mind boggling. It really is a shame he missed so much time.

Yeah, it's pretty astonishing everything Watson has accomplished over the last three weeks. He's bursting with talent.

Alex from Leesburg, VA

Steve Young wouldn't have started all those games if concussion protocol existed back then. What do you know about the Bears' linebacker corps since Roquan Smith was traded? All I know is three of their four games since the trade have been very close losses.

Not a whole lot, but Jack Sanborn has been a great find for the Bears. He's a great reminder of how playing inside linebacker in the NFL takes more than just a fast 40. Sanborn is a smart, hard-working dude who's latched onto his opportunity and won over a lot of people in Chicago. Personally, I'm also a sucker for those local players who make it with the hometown team (e.g. Adam Thielen in Minnesota). Welcome to the rivalry, kid.

Bob from Ocean View, DE

Shin/glute?

Yes. One is attached to the foot. The other is attached…not to the foot.

Bob from Rome, NY

Gentlemen: Happy holiday season to you! Just to comment on the Doug from Lafayette, OH, question about being a moment when you thought there might be some concern about this season. I had two that were about a week apart. Not being able to completely shut down an offensively challenged Patriots team with a third-string quarterback followed by the same against a Giants team that was missing most of their receivers. Just a thought – thank you!

You're not wrong, though New England has played everyone tough this year pretty much. For me, it was Washington. While the Commanders proved to be much better than most thought, it pushed the Packers' losing streak to three games. That's when I knew this season was going to be different.

Green Bay Packers players will be participating in the NFL's 'My Cause My Cleats' initiative during Sunday's Week 13 game against the Chicago Bears. Players are given the opportunity to wear custom-designed cleats that represent a cause they are passionate about.

Tom from Cambridge, MA

If, as Scott for Issaquah say, the "Packers' problem isn't math, it's losing" can we change the rule from "no math in the Inbox" to "no losing in the Inbox"?

Works for me. There isn't a single playoff scenario that matters unless the Packers start piling up wins.

Nate from Amherst, WI

So, the big surprise after Bear week and bye week, are they going to sign CM3 to play inside linebacker again? I'll see myself out.

You don't need to leave. This submission brought a smile to my face. You know how Mark asked on Thursday about the difference between extreme creativity and a trick play? Using the bye week to move Clay Matthews to inside linebacker in 2014 was the textbook example of extreme creativity. He was one of the most impactful players in the NFL that year and spurred that defense's turnaround. In that game, the Bears had no counter for the changeup. He finished with 11 tackles and a sack.

Emily from Plymouth, WI

In the past few years, there was a lot of talk about the leaders of the team formally meeting with coaches, giving lots of feedback. This year, that has not been a story line. Especially thinking of the defense. Can you comment on this at all?

They still do leadership council meetings. That's a part of how Matt LaFleur runs his shop. Those haven't stopped at all.

Bil from Stateline, NV

Just saw the forecast for Sunday on the Weather Channel. Forecast is mid-30s and sunny. Packers' football weather? GPG, beat da Bears!

And somehow, it'll still feel like 15 off Lake Michigan.

Jeremy from West Allis, WI

I like all the points raised about reasons to keep a sub-.500 division champion in the playoffs. In addition, it keeps more teams in the playoff race throughout the whole season. Currently, you can have multiple teams battling for their division title (the entire NFC South), instead of one team shooting for a decent record (Seahawks). More fan engagement and meaningful games. Do you see the NFL ever adding *gulp* an eighth conference playoff team?

Gosh, I hope not. Teams need to be rewarded for having the best record in their respective conference. In my opinion, to add an eighth team would diminish the regular season. Just look at what the MLB has done. I unfortunately feel like an 18th regular-season game is inevitable 10 years from now, but the playoffs need to stick to 14 teams for the good of the league's future.

Dennis from Kenosha, WI

Hi guys. Longtime reader but don't recall this question ever being asked. Is there a place where fans have access to 11-on-11 film? Or is that info restricted to Insiders only? Keep up the great work. Really appreciate what you guys do.

If you're talking about practice, Spoff and I don't even have access to 11-on-11s at this point of the season. That is under lock and key in the football department. If you're talking about "All-22" from games, that's available on NFL.com/plus for a fee.

Bill from Clive, IA

Insiders, maybe it's time for a sports psychologist to come in and say: "Losing…is a disease. As contagious as…" Well, you sports movie buffs know the rest.

Ahh…but curable!

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Welcome to December, Wes. No question about it, this truly is crunch time. Wouldn't it be a great time to start playing up to capability by beating the Bears at home? The time is at hand, can the Packers take advantage of the opportunity? I sure hope so. GPG!

Amen. And this is a good opponent for the Packers to face. As unforgiving as the road has been this season, Rodgers is so familiar with that stadium and the fanbase. As volatile as it's going to be, this is as close as the Packers can get to a home-type setting. A win would be the perfect way to roll into the bye and try to mount this 11th-hour run.

Mike from St Louis Park, MN

I would be happy with three more wins this season: Bears, Lions and Vikings. Too much to ask?

Hopefully not.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

No matter what happened last week or what happens next week, this is Bears week and that will always mean something. Go Pack Go!

This one always means just a little bit more.

Reed from Kansas City, MO

During the moribund days of the '70s and '80s, my dad used to say, "As long as you beat the Bears twice, it's a good season." This year is testing that wisdom, but I'm willing to give it a try. Miss you, Dad. Just beat the Bears!

One more time…for Reed's papa.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Wes, does Spoff ever yell at you?

Only when I misuse the Oxford comma.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

More than a century in the making, Packers-Bears (the league's oldest and best) renewed.

The numbers tell the story. 786, 205, 7, 1, 5, and 9.

786: Each team's all-time league win total (the record).

205: The 205th meeting of Packers-Bears (the most of any teams).

7-0: Matt LaFleur's record against the Bears.

1: Win to start the elusive win streak.

5: Games left this season and wins needed to get to.

9: Number of wins the Packers need to keep that ember of light still burning.

Here's hoping for some lucky numbers Sunday at Soldier Field.

Curtis from Corvallis, OR

Week 13

Jekyll and Hyde is our theme

The playoffs, all but a dream

All-time wins can be ours

The alternative, very, very sour

Da' Bears, just another poor team

Curtis, you've been sending poems all season and I haven't published them. Not because they aren't good. It was just my intention to give the 2022 season its own identity, to help move the Inbox forward. Considering where the Packers are at, however, maybe this is worth a shot. Enjoy the game, folks.

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