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Inbox: This team doesn't give up

Zach Tom has been the sixth (O-line) man of the year for the Packers

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RB AJ Dillon, WR Christian Watson, QB Aaron Rodgers & WR Allen Lazard

Duane from Oak Creek, WI

Even with the way the season has gone, it still feels good to beat the Bears, no?

It never gets old. Good morning!

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Happy Packers Morning, Wes! I think you found the winning formula. No offense Dean but all we needed was a different poet. GPG

Curtis from Corvallis put in the time, trusted his technique, and seized the opportunity when it was presented. Next poet up.

Mike from West Bend, WI

Morning II, now that's what I call a multi-feelgood game. I feel good we found positive plays in all phases of this game – feel good we won by more than a touchdown. I also always feel good when we eliminate the Bears from the playoffs. It's really nice to have a bye week of rest after a win to focus on the next game, focus on getting healthy and at peace with ourselves. Focus on what went well to make this a win. Confidence can do so much good for a team.

The Packers have been far from perfect this year, but this team doesn't give up. It plays to the final whistle. We'll see what happens during the final four games, but it's always great to play meaningful December football.

Chuck from Jackson, WI

Did you notice AJ Dillon cradling the football like a newborn baby after his touchdown?

I did. As a newly expectant father, Dillon said afterward he's been anxiously waiting to bust out the celebration. It was a cool moment for Dillon, who has now found the end zone in back-to-back weeks.

Tom from Beaver Dam, WI

I haven't seen many stories about how big the play of the offensive line was, especially Zach Tom? Only one quarterback hit and no sacks.

There was a reason I included Tom in the story I wrote two weeks ago about the contributions the Packers have received from their 2022 rookie class. Tom has been the sixth man of the year for Green Bay and a catalyst for the Packers' victory Sunday. I thought the entire offensive line was solid, especially in the aftermath of Rodgers' rib injury and David Bakhtiari's appendectomy. That group worked its tail off to open lanes for Dillon and gave Rodgers plenty of time to operate from within the pocket.

Robin from Ideal Township, MN

"For one extraordinary (Sunday), the (Packers) began playing (football) with joy and verve and poetry." What was the best of this game they need to internalize/repeat going forward, and what is the worst of it they still need to correct? Thanks for all you both do to keep us sane, informed, and entertained!

Christian Watson is the highlight. He's an all-around playmaker and a viable NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate despite missing time. This offense has a different swagger when Watson is on the field and defenses are taking notice. Conversely, what needs to get corrected are the explosive plays Green Bay has allowed. The Packers survived a few explosive plays in Chicago that they won't be able to get away with against Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Justin Jefferson in a few weeks' time. It's on everyone to help make that happen, including the pass rush.

Nathan from Manitowoc, WI

Who wins in a 60-yard dash, Christian Watson or James Lofton? Couldn't think of two more graceful players with the ball in their hands in Packers' history.

As Spoff alluded to Monday, we sure have come a long way from the "Why did the Packers trade two second-round picks for Watson?" questions, haven't we?

Mike from Baraboo, WI

Christian Watson looks like he will be an All-Pro WR for years to come. It is great to see the Packers utilize his speed both in the receiving and running game. Who would you compare his skills to?

I couldn't tell you how his speed compares to Lofton's, but Watson's skill set is incomparable in the modern NFL. Because it's not just what he does as a downfield threat. The fly sweeps are dangerous for the opposition to defend when Watson comes in motion. Plus, when an all-time list includes just you, Johnny Blood and Don Hutson, you're doing something right as a player, let alone a rookie.

Marteen from Reno, NV

Do you guys get time off during the bye? Also, with the current production of Watson, do you think that will impact Allen Lazard come the offseason? Lazard was predicted to be the No. 1 WR, and Watson is proving to potentially earn that spot. Lazard is such explosive player but not used as WR, but a blocker and I can't recall if Lazard is up for his contract at the end of the season. Feel better and hydrate!

I'm working for the weekend, Marteen. We have three programs to crank out over the final four games of the season, so the rest of the week will be dedicated to making my life a bit easier over the holiday season. As far as Watson's rise, I don't care as much about labels as maybe the fantasy football experts do. Watson and Lazard have importance to this offense for different reasons. Lazard is a great scheme fit and has Rodgers' unwavering trust. Watson's emergence doesn't change any of that. Lazard's contract runs through this season, but I hope Green Bay finds a way to keep him in the fold.

Matt from Waterloo, IA

Not so much a question as much as comment. First time back in the Inbox in a while as about a month ago my wife gave birth to twins! When watching the game on Sunday I couldn't help but notice Sammy Watkins with a big block on Watson's touchdown run. It is great to see him still contributing in some way even though I would imagine it has been a frustrating season for him.

Congrats! I know the individual results probably haven't been what Watkins wanted this season, but he's been a great addition to the locker room. He does what he's asked without complaint. When it comes to blocking receivers, Watkins and Lazard are two of the best in the business.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hey II, with Christian Watson's speed have they tried him out on punt/kickoff returns?

Watson returned a couple kickoffs in London before leaving with the hamstring injury. I don't know whether we'll see that again, though. His value to the offense is too high.

Cam from Pekin, IL

Right after the draft this year, there were many fans ridiculing Gute for picking Watson with the third pick. Most of the complaints revolved around him not playing for an FBS school. I countered those complaints with, "This kid can play and will be one of the top receivers." The list is long of NFL players who came from the MVFC: Tonyan, Wentz, Brandon Jacobs, Bart Scott, Trey Lance, Jeremy Chinn to name a few. And there are more coming!

As a number of Watson's former coaches told me in the offseason, there's no doubt he could have played at a higher level if he wouldn't have been a late-bloomer in high school. Watson is the reason NFL scouts dig deep into the college-football ranks. Because the talent is there if you can find it. I'm just glad to see the kid have success. Watson has been a pro since he arrived, through both the good and the setbacks.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Wes, as the rookie players have improved throughout the season, despite some having injuries, you see that this year's draft has potential to be one that improves the team going forward. Fans need to enjoy watching their growth. Watson, Romeo Doubs, Devonte Wyatt, Kingsley Enagbare, Samori Toure, Quay Walker, Tariq Carpenter (ST) and Tom have contributed or start multiple and key positions.

The future is bright, and kudos to Carpenter, too. Not much has been written about the young safety, but he's developed into a reliable contributor on special teams over the last month. He did a nice job on coverage teams in Chicago.

Tim from Spokane, WA

I didn't give Rodgers much chance to perform well against the Bears, or even finish the game, due to his rib injury but was happy to see that I was wrong. Every time he got hit, I was wincing in pain because I know how painful rib injuries are. Glad the bye is here so he can recover, and I can watch the Rams game pain free.

Rodgers missed a couple throws but otherwise I thought he was smart and surgical in leading the comeback. Now, he and the rest of a bruised roster get a week to heal and make one last run at this thing.

John from Salt Lake City, UT

Wes, I'm coming back from a two-week break from the Inbox – I'd lost Ketchmanian perspective and it was wearing me down. Were the 18 carries for Dillon and nine for Aaron Jones a "late-season, cold weather" type thing or did it happen organically during the game?

Jones aggravated his shin injury, and the Packers played it smart. Dillon was also having one of his best games of the season. You can read more on the Packers' approach with their backfield in our game notes.

Jason from Austin, TX

"I don't know how anyone has fun playing cornerback in this league." No kidding! I don't remember which one it was, but on one of the times Jaire got beat deep, the camera showed the wide receiver go to the bench after celebrating to catch his breath (and I think get oxygen). He was clearly gassed from running that route. Where was Jaire? Not able to catch his breath and get oxygen. He was still out there on the next play, lining up against some fresher wide receiver. That's a tough job!

It looked like N'Keal Harry got his wind knocked out on descent. But yeah, there's not enough money in this world to get me to A) be a defensive coordinator or B) play cornerback. They're both thankless jobs and fans are quick to point fingers.

Michael from Novato, CA

We were lucky enough to be at the game. Just some random observations. The field was in great shape. The B*ars fans were pretty friendly. Second half, the pass rushers stayed in their lanes much better. CBs didn't always jam but were much closer to the receivers at the snap. After the last TD, there was a feeling Matt LaFleur was going for two. And Watson's more dangerous than he seemed. Every time Watson was single-covered, it seemed he made a play. Turning point of the game? The long DPI.

I thought the field looked great for early December. I even mentioned that to the guys in the radio booth. I know the Bears and the Chicago Park District have done a lot of work to improve the surface in recent years. The Packers weren't perfect but they played together. That was good to see.

Mike from Toronto, Canada

Any insight on what appears to be the mandate to return every kickoff rather than take a touchback?

It's a conversation between Rich Bisaccia and Keisean Nixon depending on the game situation and where the ball is kicked (e.g. taking the touchback when the ball went to the corner of the end zone). The Packers have ratcheted up their aggressiveness in that phase. To Nixon's credit…when he takes the ball out, he's committed to the return. There's no indecisiveness.

Derek from Norton, KS

Does a tie between two teams ahead of the Packers help or hurt the Packers' chances at this time?

I consider that a win for Green Bay. The Packers need Ws, and the New York Giants and Washington are still on seven apiece after playing to a draw. It also throws those head-to-head tiebreakers out the window.

Kent from Homosassa, FL

We know Green Bay is No. 1 and Chicago is No. 2 in all-time wins. Who is No. 3 and how far behind? My unresearched guess is New York.

Correct. The Giants are third with 706 wins, followed by Pittsburgh (652) and Washington (617).

See scenes from the Sunday matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Dec. 4, 2022.

John from Worthington, OH

I'm not one to obsess about concerns with officiating. The officials are human, and all teams are dealing with the same officiating. If one crew has called 42 holding penalties compared to 8 by another crew, both teams are probably aware of each crew's tendencies. All that matters to me is that a given crew is consistent, particularly within a given game.

Precisely. Just be consistent. That's why I was so enraged when Kevin King was called for pass interference in the NFC title game two years ago. King held Tyler Johnson's jersey. Nobody's debating that. But Clete Blakeman's crew had been letting the corners play that way all afternoon, including on the first-half interception of Rodgers when the safety slammed into Allen Lazard.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The Vikings survived another nail-biter over the Jets on Sunday. With only two losses, how do you rank them in comparison with the other top NFC teams – Philly, Dallas, and SF? A paper tiger or a legitimate contender?

I wouldn't disrespect a 10-win team like that. The Vikings are what their record says, but I'll echo my comments from last week – I think any of the seven teams that make the NFC playoffs have a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl. Philadelphia is good, but not unbeatable, and I believe the same maxim applies to Minnesota.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. If a professional writers' association created a "My Cause, My Keyboard" program, which causes are you passionate about?

I'd do something in honor of Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Froedtert Hospital. They've done so much for my family.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

Wes, why do we have an appendix?

Charles Darwin said it was to digest fibrous vegetation. Now, it's just a pain in the butt.

Timmy from Chicago, IL

The Packers now sit at No. 11 in the 2023 NFL Draft. With the bye, what is the most they can move up/down without playing this week?

I was told there would be no math during the bye week.

Douglas from Bemidji, MN

In 1992, the Bears had 86 more wins than the Packers. Amazing the difference that two HOF QBs can make. Despite the struggles from this year, we should be very thankful for these last 30 years.

OK, maybe a little math. That's astonishing.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

A win and that ember turns to a flame

And now a much-needed week to rest

Amen. Wait, are you talking about the team or Hod, Dean?

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Unlike Spoff, I love to check out the playoff scenarios while there are still scenarios I might enjoy. ESPN's interactive "Playoff Machine" is live and without too much crazy help, four more wins puts them in the sixth or seventh seed. With some crazy help, there are scenarios where 8-9 gets the Pack into the playoffs, so we got that going for us, which is nice.

Just win, baby. The only scenario I'm concerned with right now is the Packers going 1-0 on Monday Night Football this season.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes and Mike, thank you for helping, counseling, and pulling us through the difficulties of this season.

When the losses come in a stack,

When green/gold dreams turn brown and black,

When fans are blue,

What should they do?

Read II 'til the Pack roars back!

First one in the wagon, four laggin'.

Ed from Windsor, CO

Win, good.

Bye week, good.

Most all-time victories, great.

Packers, great.

Sorry, this is as close as I can get to Inbox poetry.

Works for me. Have a great Tuesday, everyone.

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