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Inbox: Those moments have to be maximized

It might be the most overlooked part of this current success story

Packers defense gets a stop on third down against the Carolina Panthers.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

Good Morning! I want to extend a huge "thank you" and great appreciation to all of you who are tirelessly, creatively, and exhaustively providing excellent coverage of this Packers season through all formats of media: written, photo, video, blogs, podcasts, radio, and any others I have not mentioned. In a year of limited/no participation of fans with football as we are so accustomed to, you all have kept the spark alive with your coverage. Thank you!

Appreciate the kind words, and you're welcome. We wouldn't have these jobs we love without fans like you, and we take neither for granted.

Isaac from Oxnard, CA

Vic, be honest on a scale of 1-to-10 how comfortable/confident are you with both our defense and special teams this far into the season?

I take it back.

Andrew from Placentia, CA

If "Hard Knocks" is an insider show about NFL players, does that mean "Slobber Knockers" is an insider show about Insiders? "On this episode of 'Slobber Knockers,' Wes has had enough of his lunch being stolen, Spoff goes off on ignorant question askers, and Larry is extra unpredictable!"

Only if the narrator delivering that intro is none other than John Thomas Ralph Augustine James Facenda.

Josh from St. Paul, MN

I was watching that video of Davante Adams mic'd up and it occurred to me ... 17 is a weird number. Like, the best receiver in the league is No. 17. That's wild, man. Is Davante the best (non-QB) to ever wear the number?

Perhaps he'll eventually receive that consideration. I can't think of anyone else who compares to Adams in my adult life. There are three non-QB Hall of Famers who wore No. 17 – Red Badgro and Turk Edwards from way back in the day, and former Eagles receiver Harold Carmichael (centennial class of 2020), whom I remember from my childhood.

Cindy from Mesa, AZ

Good morning! Vernon Scott seems like a player who is making the most of his opportunities. Is he primarily filling in for Raven Greene? Or what is his role in the defense?

He's getting more snaps because of Greene's absence, and when Chandon Sullivan exited last week's game as well. But Pettine has played him as both a deep safety and hybrid linebacker at different times. He's able to help in various spots and that could prove valuable down the stretch.

Russ from Henrico, VA

I appreciate the path to the playoffs and all the permutations involved in getting the No. 1 seed. Any chance we could get a path to everyone else in the division ending up 8-8? It's really hard to build a roster drafting there, right?

Sorry, the Lions would have to win out and I don't see them beating the Titans, Bucs and Vikings in succession with Stafford's injured ribs.

Casey from Butler, MO

So the NFL eliminated a preseason game where starters don't play just to add another week at the end where starters don't play because seeding is now less important. Am I looking at that right?

Somewhat. I still don't like the seventh playoff team, but even though home field doesn't mean home crowd this year, I think home-field advantage will still be highly desirable moving forward. But never neglect to follow the money. Those two extra wild-card playoff games will mean way more money to the league than one week of preseason action.

Paul from Northglenn, CO

Has a determination been made as to the location of playoff games? I recall some talk of a bubble. Is this still being considered?

Not league-wide, and the NFL announced this week that local playoff bubbles would not be mandated. Teams can create their own voluntarily if they wish, but the players cannot be compelled to remain confined.

Andy from Verona, WI

This may be what Martin from NJ was getting at, but if a Packers player had one foot out of bounds and touched the spinning onside kick after traveling nine yards, would it be a penalty for kick out of bounds and the Packers' ball as a result? Is there any difference between touching the ball vs. possession of the ball with one foot out of bounds?

What you (and many others who wrote in on this topic) describe would be a dead ball, and I asked Mennenga about this possible strategy on Wednesday night. He felt it would be tricky to execute in tight quarters in the moment. And I should've clarified the other day when someone asked about swatting the ball out of bounds, when I noted it would be a penalty: It's only a penalty to bat the ball forward (e.g. in the direction you would return the kick) or in the end zone. In the field of play, batting the ball sideways or backward to get it out of bounds is legal, which is the best approach on these tricky onside kicks.

Dave from Germantown, TN

Spoff, as a fellow Northwestern grad, do you take NU and the points or take OSU and give the points? I heard the last time NU beat OSU was in 1974 so we are due. Frankly they should give Northwestern a special award for having no COVID cases this season.

I love the 'Cats, and I cheer for them anytime they're not playing the Badgers, but I don't expect Saturday's game to be close.

Carter from Cedar Rapids, IA

Have the Packers ever won a game in which Aaron Rodgers has thrown three interceptions like the Kansas City quarterback has recently done? So if they can win with that kind of game from Mahomes, I would think it proves how much more valuable Rodgers is.

Rodgers has thrown three INTs in a game only four times in his career. Three of them were in his first two years as a starter (2008-09). The other was the lone game back from the broken right collarbone in 2017. The Packers went 0-4 in those games.

Jim from Medford, WI

Where does this defense rank in terms of takeaways in team history? I can't recall a year with so few even in '70s and '80s.

The Packers have 13 takeaways this season. The lowest full-season totals I could find for the Packers over the last 50 years were 15 (in 2004 and '18) and 16 (in 1995).

Scot from Atlanta, GA

I saw a great stat this week: Rodgers 39 TD passes, JK Scott 38 punts. Even in Manning's 55-TD season, the Broncos punted 65 times. Are we looking at an historic statistical anomaly here? Has this ever happened before for a full season?

I'm definitely curious, but I'm a little researched out today, so if anyone wants to take a stab at this, be my guest.

Izzi from Raleigh, NC

For all his accomplishments, Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf did not draft a single player who had a Hall of Fame career (a surprising fact). On the other hand, Ted Thompson may have drafted at least three when all is said and done. Where would we be today if not for those three picks – and others? There was no roster purge after he stepped down; Mr. Thompson's fingerprint is still all over this roster, and he deserves some credit for the success we are enjoying.

Without a doubt. Rodgers, Mason Crosby, David Bakhtiari, Adams, Dean Lowry, Kenny Clark, Jamaal Williams, Lucas Patrick, Kevin King and Aaron Jones were all drafted (or in Patrick's case, signed as undrafted) by Thompson. In general, I would say the fingerprint of whichever GM acquired the quarterback is indelible on any team, good or bad.

Diane from Hot Springs Village, AR

What are your suggestions for improving the defense? Or at least being more consistent?

Teams are going to put together drives and score points in this league. It's how the game is built and officiated. A defense is only going to get so many opportunities to get off the field, and it has to make them count. With this Packers' defense lately, it feels like one play here or there changes the outlook. The fourth-and-11 vs. Chicago, the fourth-and-18 TD vs. Philly, the early third-and-9 at Detroit that led to an opening 75-yard TD drive … Those moments have to be maximized. In the same vein, how differently does the second half evolve last week if Rodgers doesn't fit that laser in to Marquez Valdes-Scantling on third-and-14 on the opening drive of the third quarter in a 14-all game? The game is tilted toward the offense. When the defense has the advantage, it has to make it hold up, because it might be awhile before the next chance.

Steven from Birchington, England

If you could own any jersey of your choice, what player and team would you choose?

Nothing will ever beat my favorite jersey as a kid, Earl Campbell's No. 34 for the Houston Oilers. "Luv" that blue.

Joseph from Salt Lake City, UT

With CMC not playing, what the scariest thing about Carolina? I'd go with Teddy out of the pocket or forced fumbles. On nfl.com (forgive me for reading) there was actually a good takeaway about how seven of our turnovers have come in our three losses, the other two against the Jags.

The fumble stat does jump out – 18 forced fumbles and 13 recoveries by the Panthers' defense this season. Those are big numbers. The Packers always emphasize protecting the ball, but I guarantee you those figures have been discussed.

Alex from Duluth, MN

Mike and Spoff...or is it Wes and Hod? I haven't heard much mention of Curtis Samuel in the II. He's a tricky gadget-guy who can run jet sweeps and end-arounds with the best of them. He is also second only to McCaffrey in total touchdowns on the Panthers since 2017. I wouldn't sleep on him, especially if DJ Moore suits up Saturday. Jaire Alexander would likely pull Moore duty and I'm not sure King is a favorable matchup with Samuel.

Having both Moore and Samuel gives the Panthers scary speed on the perimeter. Whoever has the assignments and/or safety help, you can't miss tackles on those guys.


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Mark from Stewartville, MN

Not a question, just a comment on a player to watch for the Carolina Panthers this Saturday night: Jeremy Chinn, No. 21, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound hybrid safety-linebacker from Southern Illinois who has been outstanding as a rookie. Against the Vikings, Chinn scored two defensive touchdowns ON CONSECUTIVE PLAYS. When the Packers line up on offense, they should make sure they know where No. 21 is.

Indeed. I was watching that Vikings game and briefly stepped away, only to come back and find out Chinn had scored twice on defense in the time it took me to heat up some nacho cheese. He's a legitimate Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate.

Gary from Hope Mills, NC

Am I going crazy in my old age or has Rodgers' rating been 108.1 or above in every game except for that dud against Tampa? What would his rating be if he didn't play that game or had his usual great game? This is just outstanding play by the master of his game. If he plays the next three on the same level, there should be no reason he doesn't receive his third league MVP.

Actually, Rodgers' rating in Week 2 vs. Detroit was 107.6, but every game has been north of that except Tampa. If you take out the Bucs game, his season rating is 126.8. But this isn't gymnastics; you don't get to throw out your worst score. As Josh from Oshkosh points out, Rodgers (from 2011) shares the record with Mahomes (from 2018) for most games in a season with a 100-plus rating, 13. Rodgers did it in 15 games his first MVP year. He's at 12 this year with three games to go.

Michael from Morrison, IL

Looking back, it's interesting to see the number of memorable games – both good and bad – the Packers and Panthers have played. The '96 NFC title game. Steve Beuerlein's QB keeper in '99. Tramon Williams' punt return TD off a pooch kick in '07. Just-missed comebacks in '15 and '17. Last year's goal-line stand. There are a lot of very competitive games considering Carolina has only had a team for 26 seasons.

I remember Favre nearly pulling off a miracle comeback on a Monday night in '05, too.

Ross from Roswell, GA

Gents, I know there are three games left to play but would you agree that with COVID restrictions and minimal fans in attendance that due to the cold factor the Packers would be the only team with a real "home-field" advantage? Not having fans in attendance should nullify most teams' advantage.

I wouldn't say "only" but as mentioned in my mid-week chat, I think it still matters considerably in Green Bay when potential playoff opponents are from New Orleans, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay and Arizona.

Skot from Muir Beach, CA

Tony from River Falls, WI, doesn't have to move east. Anyone can watch the GB/CAR game as well as BUF/DEN for free on the Yahoo sports app with a smart phone, tablet or smart TV! GO PACK GO!

I don't think that app gives a TV option, but that's one route. You can also stream Saturday night's game on the Packers app on a mobile device. There are a few restrictions, though. It won't work on tablets and can't be cast to a TV. Due to NFL Network's exclusivity, it also will only work with cellular data, not Wi-Fi. If you're on Wi-Fi and trying to stream it on the Packers app, you'll see a message indicating the stream is available via cellular data only.

Nathan from Lino Lakes, MN

Does Bakhtiari get upset that they don't find his position necessary during the Lego replay?

Nicely done.

Todd from Sandy, UT

No question, just a comment ... I just want to give genuine praise and sincere thanks to Coach Matt LaFleur. What he has assembled in less than two full years has been remarkable! From an outsider fan perspective he has re-energized and challenged Aaron Rodgers, he is consistent and focused in his weekly press communications, his devotion and sincere care for his players – as people – is exemplary, as evidenced by how they respond in media as well as their play. Thank you, Matt LaFleur. Go Pack Go!

I think what you said about LaFleur, and by extension his system, "challenging" Rodgers is prescient. It might be the most overlooked part of this current success story.

Matt from Frisco, TX

If we have secured the No. 1 seed by Week 17, any chance we see Jordan Love hit the field? Or would it be Boyle?

Just beat the Panthers. Happy Friday.