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Inbox: What a remarkable streak

Crazy sequence of events

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Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams

Sreedharan from Pewaukee, WI

Hi Mike. What a difference winning makes! The questions in this month's MT5 have totally changed in tone, one could even call them mellow.

Funny how that works.

Joshua from Appleton, WI

At what time can we watch the helicopters pour boiling water on Lambeau Field to melt the snow?

We'll let you know.

Sven from Limburg, Germany

Good results for the division, no help for top seed. EQ must be excited seeing the game-winning TD from his brother Amon Ra for the Lions. So if the Vikings don't win on TNF, we lock the division SNF versus Da Bears. Sounds nice.

Correct, the Packers will be playing to sew up the North if Minnesota loses to Pittsburgh on Thursday. As for the St. Browns, a neat moment to be sure. There's a first career TD, and then there's a first career TD like that.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Could the state of Michigan have had a better weekend of football? They deserved it after what they went through earlier in the week. I hope Equanimeous St. Brown didn't pull anything jumping for joy when his brother caught the walk-off touchdown. I was happy for Jamaal Williams too even though his streak of not fumbling ended at 747 touches.

What a remarkable streak. I hope he starts another one, and beats it.

Randy from Sterling, IL

Guys, when will defenses learn. MN played not to lose instead of playing to their strengths to win. When they brought extra pressure Detroit had no answer. When they played back, down the field Detroit went. Quit worrying about being second-guessed and go with your strength! Geesh.

There's certainly plenty of reason to question the end-of-game defensive strategy. Clearly Zimmer's own defense isn't familiar enough with dropping eight into coverage in the red zone when it allows an 11-yard TD pass that easily. Just brutal execution. For me, the bigger "when will they learn" item is the two-point death spiral that sunk the Vikings. Going for two with six minutes left in the third quarter? I don't care if success there gets you within three points. There are 21 minutes left on the clock and under almost no circumstance is it worth the risk that early. It led to three straight failed two-point tries, leaving them up only four instead of seven if they'd made three kicks instead. Serenity now.

Eric from Stramproy, Netherlands

Didn't think Goff could pull it off.

I didn't either, especially after watching him earlier in the fourth quarter force a third-down throw to Hockenson into triple coverage for an interception. He had a receiver on a shallow crossing route (St. Brown, I believe) running free for an easy first down that would've gotten the Lions into field-goal range. Crazy sequence of events from there, obviously.

Mark from Westminster, CO

How apropos that the league's leading buzzer-beater/loser teams played to a buzzer-beater/loser game. The Lions avoid the no win season and the Vikings say "not again." HOLY COW! The NFC North has to have the most last play victories/losses this season.

I can't confirm that, but I would imagine so.

Larry from Carney, MI

Congratulations to Detroit Lions. Game experience is valuable but after this long don't you think that Dan Campbell wouldn't be making so many bonehead decisions?

Going for it on fourth down from your own 28 with a two-point lead and four minutes left is definitely a first for me in the decision-making department. But I suppose at some point you'll try anything to get a first win.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Thank you Detroit! Seen a crazy stat on Cousins during the game. He's something like 27-1 going into the fourth quarter with a lead and 2-25 going in behind in the fourth quarter. Bizarre.

He easily could have won Sunday despite trailing at the start of the fourth quarter. He easily could have lost to the Packers two weeks ago despite leading. Some statistics just enter the realm of weird.

Bob from Port St. Lucie, FL

I enjoyed watching the end of the Lions game and noticed they did not attempt a PAT or even line up and take a knee which would be the safest way to do it. However, I remember at the end of the "Fail Mary" game, the Packers had to return to the field for a meaningless Seattle PAT. Was there a rule change or some other reason for the difference?

When the rule was instituted giving the defense an opportunity to score two points on a PAT return, the requirement to run the PAT was scrapped because teams – like the Lions in this case – would just kneel on it to eliminate the risk if the extra point is immaterial.

Joshua from Pittsburgh, PA

I won't look past the Bears. Every year, both those games make me sweat, no matter the teams' records going in. But with Sunday's outcomes, beating MIN gives us the North, no matter any other results, right?

Correct, but if the Packers haven't clinched the division by Jan. 2, I'll be concerned.

Johnny from Tillson, NY

Say what you will about Gardner Minshew's ability to be a starter, but it's hard not to root for the guy. He seems super likable, and he really brings a different kind of energy to that Eagles team. I kinda hope he can play himself into a shot as a QB1, but I'll stop short of holding my breath.

Minshew Mania. It's (sort of) real, and it's (occasionally) spectacular.

Nic from London, UK

If Z returns this season, do you think he will be given a new role with less run-stopping, every-down responsibility and instead being used as more of a pure pass rusher?

Given the length of his layoff, I would imagine he'd have a limited role upon his initial return, and rushing the passer is what he does best.

Jacob from West Allis, WI

We all love to talk about LaFleur's impressive record of never losing back to back games as the Packers head coach (rightfully so). There is one potential trend that causes some concern. The Packers have come out flat and lost big in both of their games following a regular season bye under LaFleur. What can the Packers do to make sure they come out strong next week and extinguish any possibility of a negative trend starting?

People need to let this bye week thing go. First, the Packers have won two home playoff games, impressively so, after bye weeks each of the last two Januarys. Second, those two losses following regular-season byes just happened to be on the road against the teams that won the NFC and the Super Bowl, respectively, those seasons. This is not some kind of trend worth discussing.

Kirsten from Madison, WI

As players have stepped in to replace the injured, which do you think is happening more: Coaches re-scheming around the talents of the new guys, or the new guys slotting into the system that's already been devised? I'm sure it's a bit of both. I'm just curious what your eyes and experience are telling you. Do you have an example of where you think coaches likely game-planned to fit a newbie's skills?

I would say in general, it's more common to scheme for a substitute player on offense, while on defense, the new guy needs to fit in so as not to disrupt everyone else's roles and responsibilities. The chip-blocking and help provided Nijman in his first start (at San Francisco, vs. Nick Bosa) is an obvious example of scheming. Douglas stepping in for Yiadom after the first drive in Chicago and just balling out the rest of the day exemplifies the other.

George from North Mankato, MN

How does news of next year's salary cap being over $208 million look for the Packers' salary-cap crunch? Projections have us way over the cap now. Was that at the current $182 million? Do you know if Russ Ball has a new pencil sharpener?

The analyses of Green Bay's overcommitments have been with a cap north of $200M, so the Packers still will have a ton of work to do in the offseason. But there's no point in thinking about that now, not with what's in front of this team.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

Just read an article about non-quarterback candidates for MVP and saw Davante Adams on the list. I love the idea that he's even in the conversation. And it'd be very cool to have two MVPs on the team. And this caused me to wonder if the Packers did have two different MVPs playing together, and, looking at other teams, were there any teams that had two different MVPs as teammates?

If my crack research is accurate, this would be the list of MVP teammates, not counting players switching teams later in their careers, etc.: Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk (St. Louis), Joe Theismann and Mark Moseley (Washington), Fran Tarkenton and Alan Page (Minnesota), Earl Morrall and Johnny Unitas (Baltimore, though they both played QB), and the trio of Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung and Bart Starr (Green Bay).

Gary from Little Chute, WI

If memory serves me right someone else asked the question (I think back in the Vic days) about if fans get to keep the football if players throw it into the stands. I believe the answer was yes and that the players have to pay for the ball. Any truth to that?

I believe that's still the case.

Reed from Kansas City, MO

II, I'm a little concerned about Joe Barry. It seems like his defenses in the past have been mediocre as best. How do you think he'll do this year? (Sorry, this has been stuck in my outbox since March.)

The NFL comes with the same disclaimer as the stock market. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

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2022 Pro Bowl Vote

It's time to cast your votes for the 2022 Pro Bowl!

David from Cable, WI

Well, Ben and Russell both got exciting emotion-packed wins at home. Are these the beginning of a turnaround or a last stand by two desperate teams?

If one of them is going to stay in the hunt, I have more faith in the Steelers right now than the Seahawks.

Ryan from Staten Island, NY

What do you think about the Ravens' decision to go for two?

I appreciate teams that have won games being bold and have the courage of their convictions. Looked like they had a good play call, too, but execution is always easier on paper.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Good morning, Mike. I hope you enjoyed your calmer Sunday. As it stands, GB is the second seed in the NFC behind Arizona. Could you explain how the Packers have the advantage as of now over Tampa? Big first win for GB East today and the Vikings are who we thought they were.

All three of the Buccaneers' losses are to NFC teams. Only two of the Packers' three losses are. That's the difference right now.

Patsi from Riverside, CA

It's eye-opening to see that there are twice as many AFC teams with winning records as there are NFC teams (over .500) on the season to date. Do you feel as if the AFC is that much stronger than the NFC? Irrespective of the count the best records are all NFC teams. So we have that going for us.

I don't know if those numbers say anything, really. There's a separation at the top of the NFC that doesn't exist in the AFC, but come January, I doubt it's going to matter.

Emma from Winter Garden, FL

I loved the game plan that the Cardinals used to beat the Bears: Throw the ball 15 times, play great team defense to create turnovers, and control the line of scrimmage. That sounds like another recipe for success to get the Pack to 10-3.

Works for me.

Chris from Titusville, FL

I'd like to see a video of you saying "Adam Hoebelheinrich" three times quickly.

When he was hired (seven years ago, if I recall), I quickly nicknamed him Triple H for good reason. I'm proud to say it has stuck, at least for a few of us, and now he's just Trip to me. In all seriousness, though, he's an incredibly talented dude we stole from ESPN and our department has been better for it ever since.

Rusty from Eustace, TX

I didn't realize how much I really needed this bye week until Sunday. I can't imagine the physical and mental toll it must take on the players and staff. I'll be ready for the home stretch now! How about y'all?

Getting there, getting there.

Bill from Clive, IA

Greetings, II! Should the Packers fail to lock up home-field advantage (God forbid such a thing should happen!), what opposing stadium could be considered most friendly to the players? I'm thinking in terms of turf, climate, noise, locker room, traveling Packer fan base, etc.

(Sigh.) Just beat the Bears.

Leo from Port Edwards, WI

Any chance we see a movie titled "East Side Story" involving a young couple from Sheboygan caught in between two families/gangs preferring different brats?

OK, OK, the bye week has definitely run its course. Happy Monday.

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