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Just beat the Vikings, and see what happens

How Packers can clinch a playoff spot this week isn't entirely clear


Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

Can someone please explain why Mike McCarthy is never in the conversation for coach of the year? After what he went through dealing with injuries and adjustments to get this team on the brink of North division champs and playoff contenders, how is he not being mentioned?

Because the Packers haven't won anything or earned a playoff berth yet. If Green Bay wins the division, I think he'll get due consideration, which he would deserve. Just as I said last week, Rodgers will be in the MVP conversation if the Packers win the division. Until then, the discussion doesn't matter as it relates to them. Neither award is coming Green Bay's way otherwise. Just beat the Vikings.

Alex from Dayton, OH

If we were to lose to the Vikings, but the Lions also lose to the Cowboys, would the final game still be a battle for the North title?

Yes, because the Vikings cannot win the division. But a loss to the Vikings would allow the Lions to take the field Monday night with a chance to clinch it. Just beat the Vikings.

Cody from Carlisle, PA

If the Packers would win and get lucky enough to have the Bucs and Redskins lose again, could we clinch a playoff berth this week?

The playoff-scenario questions are coming fast and furious, and everyone has mentioned different playoff pictures being reported online. I'll do my best here. The answer to your question is, almost. Atlanta also needs to win, and, additionally, the Packers would have to clinch the strength-of-victory tiebreaker over Tampa Bay. That's the scenario coming straight from the NFL. Why does Atlanta matter, you ask? Because the Packers would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Falcons for a wild-card spot, but a Falcons win coupled with a Bucs loss would clinch the NFC South for Atlanta and leave Tampa Bay as the only wild-card competitor from that division. As for the strength-of-victory tiebreaker with the Bucs, at the moment – if I did my math right – it's dead even (49-62-1). The NFL has not spelled out exactly how the Packers can clinch that tiebreaker this week, but there must be a certain set of dominoes that could fall. The irony is, if the Packers and Falcons win, and the Bucs and Redskins lose, a Lions win on Monday night might be the last domino, which would be fine because Detroit winning wouldn't impact the stakes in Week 17 as long as the Packers have their ninth win. Just beat the Vikings. Have I mentioned that? At the end of the week, I'll spell out in "Path to the Playoffs" all the other teams Green Bay fans should be rooting for.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Packers, Lions and Vikings all walk into a bar at 9-7. Who wins the NFC North?

Green Bay, as the only team to not lose to the Bears.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

Hey Insiders, it seems to me it doesn't really matter to the Lions if they lose to the Cowboys this next week. Even if the Packers beat the Vikings, the Week 17 matchup between the Pack and the Lions in Detroit will still decide the NFC North champion. So wouldn't it be smart for the Lions to treat Week 16 as a bye week and rest their starters in preparation for the showdown in Detroit?

Absolutely not. If Tampa Bay loses on Sunday, Detroit can clinch a playoff berth with a win on Monday night. Then the Lions' season wouldn't be on the line in Week 17, only the difference between a wild-card spot and a division title. In addition, the Lions are very much alive for the No. 2 seed and a bye. I don't see them resting anybody.

Greg from Franklin, WI

How do you think healthy players skipping their bowl games is viewed by scouts?

That the players understand the NFL is a business. Is that viewed positively or negatively by scouts? Depends on the scout. If I were a player, I'd have a hard time not playing in my final college game. If this trend becomes widespread, it's not good for the college bowl system.

Daniel from Atlanta, GA

I checked out the Bears' website and they have a writer who does weekly chats with the fans like has. The first question asked was why the Bears weren't in "prevent defense" on the long throw to Jordy Nelson. I guess Bears fans like prevent defense.

And if Rodgers hits the crossing route for 15-20 yards and a first down, and is one similar pass away from getting into Crosby's range, they'll ask why they didn't blitz. It's always the scheme, never the execution.

David from Los Angeles, CA

Hi Insiders. Too bad a high of 32 degrees on Saturday. I see the Vikings haven't played an outdoor game in a cool climate (D.C.) since Week 10 in mid-November. Any chance of an arctic blast? Though Aaron's calf will probably welcome a little warmer conditions.

Rodgers actually said the bitter cold helped numb his calf, so go figure. It was 58 degrees the day the Vikings played at Washington, so they have played nothing resembling a cold-weather game. Minnesota is catching a break on this one. We all saw what their first cold game of the year did to the ball-handling of Houston and Seattle at Lambeau.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

In 2001, the formula to calculate wind chill was changed in order to be more accurate. The minus-59 wind chill in Cincinnati would be a smaller number now (in other words, less severe).

Interesting. Didn't know that. What would the new formula say about the minus-46 in the Ice Bowl?

Kevin from Tucson, AZ

Insiders, what is the word on A. Peterson? He had 22 yards on six carries, but with a fumble. He may have shaken out the cobwebs just in time for the Packers, unfortunately.

I expect in his second game back he'll have a larger workload. The Packers defended him well in Week 2. They'll need to do it again.

Kevin from Whitehall, WI

You said the Bears declined the option for the 10-second runoff. What was the benefit to them in declining?

They wanted more time on the clock if they stopped the third-and-11 to force a punt. It became a moot point because Rodgers let about 10 seconds run off the clock, intentionally, before the snap, so they wouldn't have as much time if the Packers didn't convert.

Evan from Green Bay, WI

My son's birthday party will be New Year's Day. Give me your best guess for what time the Packers and Lions will play.

If I were a betting man (and I'm not), my money would be on 7:30 p.m. CT.

Larry from Chippewa Falls, WI

Why did the Packers wait so long to pull Randall?

I thought it was a gutsy move, frankly. Yes, he was having a poor game, but this Green Bay secondary really struggled without him earlier in the year. He's still your top corner, and I expect him to be at that post on Saturday afternoon, confident and ready to play.

Chris from Racine, WI

Do players think about "paying back" a team that has beaten them earlier in the season? Or is that just a fan thing?

It's mostly a fan thing, but for an individual player, there could be something to it.

Nick from Chicago, IL

What do you think is the biggest matchup I should be watching for come Christmas Eve?

The Diggs-Randall rematch.

Jill from Guilford, CT

Hi Insiders, with the strength at running back with Montgomery and Michael, what do you think is Eddie Lacy's future? Does he remain a Packer? My feeling is that he does as they will stick to their draft-and-develop plan. Merry Christmas!

Everyone is asking about Lacy and next year's backfield. There will be plenty of time to discuss it in the offseason. In my view, it's going to depend on Lacy's overall health and conditioning, which will determine the market for his services. For me to try to predict any of that now would be foolhardy. He's still recovering from surgery.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi guys, after Minnesota was 5-0, they have gone 2-7. Bradford has completed over 71 percent of his passes, but they're still losing. They lost 34-6 last week to Indy at home. Why has their season deteriorated? In the first game against us, the Vikings won the turnover battle 3-1. If our hot offense protects the ball, shouldn't we win big?

Who cares about big, just win. I've said this repeatedly, back in Week 2, the Packers exposed the Vikings' shaky offensive line. It wasn't enough to win, but Minnesota kept getting hit by injuries to its weakest unit, and Philadelphia rendered the offense ineffective by battering Bradford in the Vikings' first loss. Increased focus on protection has limited Minnesota's downfield passing game, and defenses have noticed and adjusted. Bradford averaged 13 yards per completion in the Week 2 victory over Green Bay, his first game. He's still completing a high percentage but averaging just 9.4 per completion since. That's a significant difference. But this Vikings team is plenty capable of beating the Packers with Peterson and that defense. Last Sunday was their only truly poor defensive performance all season.

Bill from Marion, MA

Gents, with all the late-game heroics performed by Aaron Rodgers, I think he may have taken the "Mad Bomber" moniker away from Daryle Lamonica? What say you?

He doesn't need a moniker. He's Aaron Rodgers.

Chris from Appleton, WI

A lot of people were down on Adams for his drops on Sunday. However, I thought it was remarkable how he flew down the field to block for Montgomery on his 61-yard run. He was running with the afterburners on. This is me just giving him some recognition for the play.

Nelson also had a great block on that play, and as other readers have pointed out, Bulaga and Bakhtiari were hustling way downfield, too. You could tell that run fired up the whole team. That said, I was equally impressed by Montgomery's two other big runs for 26 and 36 yards because he did a lot of work on those on his own. McCarthy said the coaching staff charted 12 broken tackles on the day for him. That's a lot for any game, but in a 16-carry game, it's astounding.

Martin from Tisovec, Slovakia

Hi, guys. I don't want to be malicious Marty (and I am not, I am very happy that the Pack won), but where did the pass rush disappear in the fourth quarter? Keep up the great job!

Other than Peppers' strip-sack, the pass rush didn't get home. The press box stats credited the Packers with one QB hit on Barkley's 43 drop-backs, and that was the one Jake Ryan was flagged for. That's not good enough and the Packers know it.

Rick from Raeford, NC

A run to the Super Bowl is still in the cards, but regardless of where this road leads, a 17-point lead blown is a grave matter.

It wasn't pretty, and it shouldn't have happened, but that's the NFL. The Packers closed out Philly with a 17-play drive, and they never let Seattle get close. When it happens, you learn from it. That's also the NFL.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

I was really pleasantly surprised that John Fox didn't roll the dice at the end of regulation and instead opted for an almost certain overtime-resulting field goal until Rodgers' heroics. Considering the game being meaningless for the Bears, plus the weather factored in, I was shocked he played it so conservatively. Compare that to the Titans' and Eagles' daring approach with a lot more on the line.

At the time, I thought the Bears would go for the TD, too. It was a tough call. Perhaps after an outside run drew a holding penalty, an inside run got stuffed, and a quick flat pass got knocked away, Fox had seen enough on that sequence.

Phil from Garland, TX

Am I the only one that noticed Jordy Nelson was never touched by LeBlanc on that last pass completion?

Nelson said Tuesday he felt LeBlanc's leg hit him as he tumbled over, and when he stood up and held the ball out to be spotted, the officials were blowing the play dead.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

AR had amazing ability to get the team to the line and run down the clock after the 60-yard throw to Jordy. He even kept Lane off the field. What other things did he need to be aware of between the throw and spiking the ball? Did he get directives/suggestions from MM via the headset while he was running down the field, or was he on his own?

It was a great display of command and composure. Rodgers said on Tuesday that McCarthy was actually barking in his ear about getting Taylor off the field, because he was jogging behind Rodgers to come on and the QB didn't know it. The biggest thing was making sure everyone was set before the snap, because a false start would have been a 10-second runoff and sent the game to OT.

Nate from Minneapolis, MN

The underdog label fits us well. I would rather scrap for the playoffs than sit on a bye. 2010 is a testament to our team in scrap mode, and this year has the same feel.

This team is nobody's underdog. McCarthy just hasn't said it publicly yet, like he did six years ago.

John from Port Angeles, WA

Great job you guys are doing, especially the "What You Might've Missed." If a quarterback spikes the ball to stop the clock, as Aaron did Sunday, does that count as an incomplete pass in that player's statistics?


Eric from Amherst Jct., WI

When is the last time we won a game that Aaron finished the game and never threw a TD? Oh and should Randall Cobb's nickname be "decoy"?

Dec. 9, 2012, vs. Detroit, and I don't think Cobb is even close to 100 percent on that ankle, but he's never going to make an excuse.

Michael from Fredonia, WI

How did the NFC and AFC fare against each other this year, overall? Which divisions have the best interconference records?

It was close this year. The AFC came out ahead, 33-30-1. The NFC East had the best mark, going 11-4-1 vs. the AFC North. The AFC East went 10-6 vs. the NFC West (despite a 4-0 mark by Seattle), the AFC West went 10-6 vs. the NFC South, and the AFC South went 9-7 vs. the NFC North.

Casey from Boulder, CO

Insiders, how much does time of kickoff affect the players? Do the players have a preferred time of day to play? I would think the hype of a night game would help motivate a team.

Most players prefer not to wait around all day to play and they like the noon kickoffs best. Get up and get to it.

Nick from Greenfield, WI

So, who's making the "Run the table" shirts and where can I get one?

Haven't seen any, nor should we yet, but I like the way you think. Just beat the Vikings.

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