Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Chicago is hot team, hot topic

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Hey everybody. Thanks for chiming in today. Let's get to it.

If the Packers beat the Bears next week but still miss the playoffs what does that mean for the team?

It would mean they have two wins over the team that in all likelihood will still win the NFC North. The important factor is this team getting a win on the road. There are a lot of young players on the roster who will be part of the team next year who need to get this monkey off their back, regardless of the playoff hopes.

John Defillipo just got fired in his first year as OC. I wonder if Mike Zimmer thinks that was a "mistake" too.

I just saw that before I logged on. There were obvious tensions between those two coaches all season. The Vikings need an offensive spark to make the playoffs, and Zimmer obviously feels this is what it's going to take.

Mike, I have a colleague who is convinced that the results of last night's game have eliminated the Packers from the playoffs. Is he right?

No. The Packers cannot win the NFC North, but they have not been eliminated from wild-card contention.

Mike, So does the improved play indicate that the coaching change was a good one?? I for one am so conflicted

This Sunday is going to tell us if this team had it in them all along, or not.

If you are Gute, do you try and sign Breeland to a long-term deal? He has shown some major growth over the last couple games and, given King's injury history, it would be nice to keep him locked up.

Depends on the price. He was in line for a lucrative contract last offseason before the foot injury knocked everything off course. The Packers will have exclusive negotiating rights with him until free agency begins in March, so we'll see. It'll depend on what he's asking/expecting in a new contract, but it's hard not to like what he's done when he's been healthy.

If Week 17 comes down to Packers needing to win and Vikings needing to lose for GB to make the playoffs, how do you think Chicago plays it? They'd have a chance to knock out a division rival, but they'd also be letting one potentially slip in.

It'll depend if the Bears still have a chance at the 2 seed, because if they can match the Rams' record, Chicago would win the tiebreaker. But if the Bears aren't playing for anything, I would expect them to rest their top guys for the wild-card round.

Hey Mike, my brother and I are going to our 4th game this year and we haven't seen you and/or Wes yet. If we were to stroll through the atrium say an hour before kickoff what are the chances we see you two?

Sorry, but Wes and I do our Periscope/Facebook Live on the field around 915/930 for a noon game, and then we head up to the press box. There's always work to be done pregame.

Hey Mike, the Packers need these things to happen to make the playoffs: Redskins, Eagles and Panthers all need to lose one. The Vikings need to lose two of their next three. Am I correct?

And the Packers must win all three of their games, yes.

Re: the Bears in Week 17, wouldn't they want to win just to make sure they don't get Seattle in the wild-card round?

Depending on what happens with the Bears and Cowboys the next couple of weeks, those 3-4 spots could be locked in or still undetermined. If Seattle keeps going like it is and gets the 5 seed, then yes, the 6 seed would theoretically be the more attractive opponent.

I signed on to your pregame and saw a bunch of people really down on the team and Aaron in particular. Isn't part of being a fan and in my case a stockholder being loyal when we lose? Good heaven's who needs fair weather fans?

It's all part of the deal. It's been a frustrating season, no doubt. But I would say all but 4-5 teams in the NFC are going through frustrating seasons right now.

Are we going to see another "belt" moment from Rodgers this sunday at Soldier Field?

Who knows? This is one heck of a defense the Packers will be facing Sunday. The Bears are so good at stopping the run and taking the ball away. Run the ball and protect the ball are the keys to the game.

I noticed several box seats with their windows open in the stadium on Sunday. Was the Press Box trying to get some air too?

The press box windows don't open. The TV and radio booths can open their windows, but the main press box is sealed.

Why is it Seattle always seems to get away with something that has a direct impact on the outcome of the game?

I keep trying to figure that out myself. Seattle might have won the game anyway, but I don't know how the flag gets picked up on Wagner on the blocked FG. The NFL has a significant officiating problem on its hands, not that anyone would consider that breaking news.

Which Packers unit most needs to keep playing better to knock off the Bears this week? I'd say the offensive line, after what we saw them Bears do to LA last week.

The Bears' defensive front sets the stage for everything. Hicks and Mack are as good a 1-2 punch as there is in the game. They're so disruptive against both run and pass. This will be the biggest test of the season for GB's offensive line, no matter who's healthy. The Rams completely abandoned the running game, and they had Todd Gurley. You can't abandon the run against these guys, even if it's not getting much done. You have to keep them honest.

How big is your office? In pictures it always looked like Vic had a great office.

I have a cube, not an office. Had one since 2006. Not the same one all the time, a few different ones. But no complaints.

The back up o-line played pretty good, will need them again next week.

I thought what the Packers' O-line did down 3 starters was commendable for sure. They protected Rodgers well enough to get him in a rhythm early, and then the run game opened up later on. The unit needs to play its best game of the season, and the special teams needs to help the Packers with field position. No penalties or miscues that back the offense up. Can't make it any harder on yourself than it already will be.

Mike, I'm holding you to the deal you made. We win two games in a row and you bring back "Path to the Playoffs."

Would be happy to.

Hi Mike, wasn't able to watch the game live on Sunday, but it seems like Lancaster has started to pop out on film. Thoughts?

He's doing pretty well. Blew up a screen pass on Sunday and seems to be holding his own against the run. A young guy looking to make an impression down the stretch and appears to be doing so.

What is a catch?!

Outstanding question. Apparently everything that wasn't a catch for about the last 6-7 years is now a catch. The ruling on the first Jones challenge on Sunday was ridiculous. They're trying to justify everything as a catch after years of leaning the other way. The NFL has to get rid of this "call on the field" language in the replay rule. The calls on the field aren't reliable enough for them to carry any weight anymore. If a play goes to replay, call what you see. Period.

How do you think the Vikings will fare in their next two games with a change at offensive coordinator in the heat of a playoff race?

We'll find out. On a short week, they're hosting a Miami team coming off a huge win that kept the Dolphins in the thick of the AFC wild-card picture, and then they travel to Detroit, where Minnesota has historically struggled. It's going to be interesting.

Could we expect to see Lewis at TE with his most game action this week? Would help line and run game.

Depends what gives the Packers the best chance to run the ball. Tightening up or spreading out. Maybe four wide with a single RB will give better opportunities for Jones to find holes, I don't know.

Do the referees work for the NFL? Or do they work for a referee governing body that the NFL contracts with? How does that structure affect necessary changes?

The officials are a union of their own. We found that out in 2012, remember?

The Packers can actually make the playoffs at 7-8-1. But you know, just beat the Bears.

You said it.

How is the O-line health now. Jeeez what a MASH unit year again. Any help on the way?

The reserves the Packers are playing with now -- Spriggs, McCray, Patrick -- all have starting experience from the last couple of years, so that helps. They aren't brand new to this. But we'll see what the practice/injury report looks like tomorrow, if any of the starters are going to be able to work their way back.

Hi Mike, does this feel like 2010 or not quite there yet?

No resemblance whatsoever.

What's your favorite memory from Soldier Field?

As a fan, it was where I attended my first NFL game, Packers-Bears in Dec. 1984. As a reporter, Week 17 of 2013 won't ever go away. From a drama perspective, it stands out more than the 2010 NFC title game.

Packers haven't lost at Soldier Field since 2010, eight years! Think about it! Do the "older" players bring this up, do the coaches? Cobb has been a real factor in some games! Do they let him come out of the tunnel first?

I didn't realize that, but you can bet the Bears do, and they'd love nothing more than to clinch their first division title since 2010 against their archrivals.

So the Saints barely win and the Rams lose to the Bears.. who is the best NFC team now?

I think the Rams loss just sent the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC through the Superdome in New Orleans, and that's going to be an awfully tough place for any visiting team to get a win.

There's no way we can let a defensive lineman score a touchdown on offensive against us now that the tape is out there, right? I still have nightmares of the Refrigerator.

The trick will be if the Bears line up with that personnel in that formation again, what are they going to run? I guarantee you they have at least one other play to run out of it.

Alexander covered on a receiver he played in Madden. How cool is that?

I'm sure that's not all that unusual.

Do the Packers have their own video library of games? I always envisioned them having a vault or something full of game film dating back to the dawn of the team that the public would never see.

I'll have to ask the video guys how much of the team archives has been digitized. I would imagine as much as possible.

In the last 2 weeks the Saints and Rams have been held to 10 or less. Both were the result of massive inside pressure. Is downfield contact simply being called less often or are defensive coordinators just confusing the QB's that much?

I don't think it's confusion, it's just constant disruption. QBs need to find a rhythm to be confident in their reads and throws. When there's no pocket to step up into, it's difficult to ever feel comfortable.

As far as playoff scenarios go, the Lions are still alive too...

Then root for them to win this week so they're still alive when they host the Vikings next week.

Your pre-game for away games the same? Will be at the Meadowlands in 2 weeks... any chance seeing you guys around?

We don't get to the stadium as early for away games, so we're usually down on the field about 2 hours before kickoff doing our live online gig.

Did AR seem to run better in the Atl game? I don't just mean stats-wise, he seemed quicker/faster then earlier in the year.

Totally agree. His progression with the knee injury, getting back to full mobility, has been ongoing and looks rather complete now.

All right, folks, I'm going to sign off and see what Wes brought for lunch. Take care and talk again next week. Best, Mike

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