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The NFC is really heating up

Responding to an exposed weakness is what matters


Jim from Tucson, AZ

Love the three QB picture. I'm guessing that most people, other than Packer fans, will not get the significance of Bart getting the honor middle position. It was well-deserved, don't you think?

Absolutely. It wouldn't look right any other way.

Anton from Green Bay, WI

Shields on IR, Randall had surgery which means he is out for six weeks, and Rollins' status is uncertain. I want the time of the season back when the punter was issue No. 1.

Who wouldn't, but nobody feels sorry for anybody in the NFL. Mike McCarthy is scheduled to speak to the media today at 12:30 p.m. CT. We will see what he says about the team's health at that time.

Philip from Baton Rouge, LA

The Atlanta game has set up nicely. Both teams will be scrapping for what feels like season turning points.

The Falcons are blocking out the noise regarding another potential collapse after a hot start. The Packers are blocking out the injuries and trying to find what will work on offense. These teams have played some pretty good games in the Rodgers-Ryan era. This one could rank up there, too.

Matt from Tallahassee, FL

I'm excited to see you guys at the Packers Everywhere pep rally in Atlanta. Do you know if the Badgers game will be on? Or will I be having too much fun at the pep rally to notice?

I'm sure a nice tip for a bartender can get Wisconsin-Nebraska on a screen, if it's not already taken care of.

Luke from Ellendale, SD

Hey Mike, do you think it's a possibility that MM would decide to permanently transition Montgomery from WR to RB? He's had considerable success so far (considering that he's stepping in for someone at a completely different position). Also, he's not being incorporated into any large proportion of snaps at WR, so am I crazy, or do you think this could be a possibility?

I don't see why he wouldn't continue in the hybrid role. He lined up numerous times as a slot receiver against Chicago. He can motion from the backfield to the slot and vice versa, depending on matchups. As I said last week, he's an intriguing chess piece.

Andy from Arlington, TX

Why has there been such an increase this season in blowing the whistle when Rodgers gets the defense to jump, or when the 12th man is still on the field at the snap? Those "free plays" he's become so known for keep getting called dead. What's the point of that?

One 12-man free play was lost to the timeout that wasn't, but at least one other time this year the Packers weren't set on the quick snap and got flagged. On the offside calls, the officials are supposed to blow it dead if someone on offense also moves before the snap, or if the defender is unabated to the QB. I've said before the Packers shouldn't have had as many offside free plays as they had early last year had they all been officiated correctly.

Dave from Ferndale, MD

Now that the Vikings have proven themselves to be mortal, do you believe that will relieve some of the angst in Packer nation?

Of course not. The Packers have to play the Eagles, too.

Graham from Green Bay, WI

This week, the defense's main job will be stopping Julio Jones. Who has the more important job: the secondary to stop Jones, or the pass rush to get at Matt Ryan?

One without the other won't work. Not against this offense.

Marin from West Lawn, PA

Whom do you see the Packers assigning the task of covering Julio Jones?

Barring a change in the injury report, I would imagine the job goes to Gunter, but I don't see him being left on an island very much.

Brian from Moncks Corner, SC

Do you throw the kitchen sink at Julio Jones, or do you play him honest and try to limit everyone else?

I think you have to give safety help over the top more often than not, but I'm not in favor of something gimmicky, if that's what you're asking. Getting too out-of-character just lends itself to mistakes.

Trent from Nappanee, IN

I've got a question about the current overtime rules. Say Team A scores a field goal on its first drive. On the next drive, Team B throws an interception, but Team A then fumbles the ball before being downed and Team B recovers. Is the game over, or does Team B get to continue to drive? What if instead Team B returns said fumble for a touchdown? Who wins?

As soon as Team A has gained possession of the ball via fumble or interception, and there's no penalty prior to the change of possession that would nullify the turnover, nothing else that happens as that turnover play concludes can change the outcome of the game. Team A wins.

Scott from Janesville, WI

During the Seattle vs. Arizona game a field goal hit the post and a member of the Cardinals caught the ball, which I have never seen happen. If he were to run into the end zone, is that a touchdown?

No. The goalposts are out of bounds. As soon as a ball touches one – via kick, throw, whatever – the ball is dead.

John from Eau Claire, WI

Seattle's jumping-over-linemen-FG-blocks. Kam Chancellor did it in history, now the jumping torch is passed to Bobby Wagner. Why don't we (or anyone else) do this more often?

If it were that easy, more teams would. Athleticism aside, the timing has to be perfect, therefore the offside risk is considerable. It's no accident Wagner's first leap came on a fourth-and-11 kick. If he mistimes it, it's still fourth-and-6. The last one was goal-to-go, so you're not risking a fresh set of downs there, either.

Matt from Ironwood, MI

This Seattle-Arizona ending has me very frustrated. All of the other major professional sports keep playing until a winner is determined. Even college football plays until there is a winner. The NFL needs to change the rules so there are no more ties.

Why? Given all that occurred, that game turned out exactly as it should have.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

After watching a few of the games yesterday I must say, I feel way better about the Packers and how they are trending compared to other teams. The Cardinals-Seahawks game was one of the most difficult games if sat through. The Eagles-Vikings game, were they trying to set a record for turnovers? Lots of football to be played but I feel much better today than I did a week ago.

It's a week-to-week league. The NFC is really heating up. Seven of the eight teams in the NFC East and North are above .500, and those two divisions are playing one another this season.

Brian from Sussex, WI

The way to take advantage of the Vikings' offensive line weakness exposed, or just a midseason game to be forgotten?

Any weakness in this league is eventually exposed. It's how a team reacts to that exposure that matters more.

Chris from Sydney, Australia

Do you think that offensive lines are becoming a premium position group? Poor O-line play, particularly costly holding calls, has been crippling offenses all year. Case in point Seattle vs. Arizona last night.

More than one or two offensive lines around the league are struggling right now. Injuries play a part, certainly, but that's not all. The unit is a major strength of the Packers and Cowboys, though. Let's see how this plays out.

Terry from Rothschild, WI

I was surprised to see Allen Barbre playing on the O-line for the Eagles Sunday and remember when he flopped with the Pack. Do you remember other stories of Packer flops that went on to start in the NFL?

Breno Giacomini only played in one game for the Packers, on special teams, as a fifth-round rookie in 2008, but had some injury issues and was eventually signed off Green Bay's practice squad in 2010. He has gone on to become a multi-year starter for both the Seahawks and Jets, winning a Super Bowl ring as Seattle's starting right tackle. What I remember most about big Breno was his Boston accent. It was as thick as, well, the rest of him.

Kris from Stevens Point, WI

Hi Spoff, I hope you enjoyed your weekend off. Did you by chance spend it in Door Co.? I saw you (or your twin) at Whitefish Dunes on Saturday. I wanted to say hello, but didn't want to bother you and your family. It was a gorgeous weekend up on the peninsula!

Indeed it was gorgeous, and I was thrilled to take advantage. The two lane roads up there "tunneled" by the autumn-colored trees with the late-afternoon sun breaking through are a treat to drive on. I appreciate the courtesy, but honestly, don't hesitate to say a quick hi next time. Dad looks good to the kids when they think he's sorta famous.

Clay from Avondale, AZ

Spoff, I loved the symphony at Lambeau video. Was that you or your twin brother playing trombone?

That one had to be my twin. You would not want to hear me trying to play a trombone, or anything that is supposed to make music.

Alex from Milwaukee, WI

It's games like Thursday that outsiders see and think McCarthy is a good coach. We consistently beat the teams we SHOULD beat (Jags, Lions, Giants, Bears) but got dominated by two of the best teams in the NFC. I without question take wins for granted as a Packers fan. I know every game in the NFL is a difficult one. But I can already see how this season will go. We finish 11-5, because of our schedule. Postseason rolls around and we get throttled because McCarthy refuses to make adjustments. I think our players need a new voice in the locker room.

17-14 on the road is dominated? First-and-goal on the 1 to get within a TD late third quarter is dominated? Last Thursday's game didn't feature adjustments? Neither did the playoff game at Arizona last January? Wow. At least you admit you take wins for granted.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

All the coaches can coach, all the players have talent, everyone is trying to win. What do you think really makes the difference in the NFL?

Aside from injuries, it's the superstars playing like it and tilting the field, and the teams that execute better in the critical moments.

Look inside the Packers locker room both before and after Thursday night's tilt with the Bears. Photos by Evan Siegle,

Josh from Waukesha, WI

Why do teams always elect to punt after a safety? It never seems to go as far as a normal kickoff would go. Are the odds of the receiving team dropping a punt higher than a free kick?

Kicking from the 20, you aren't likely to get a touchback, so I think higher hang time to promote better coverage and avoid a big return takes priority. I hadn't thought about the "tougher to catch" element, though.

Mike from Niagara Falls, Canada

The World Series is going to feature two clubs with a combined championship drought of 176 years. In your opinion, what would be the Super Bowl's equivalent of a matchup like this? Browns-Lions? Bills-Vikings? Or Bengals-Cardinals?

I see the 1990s Indians like the '80s Bengals. Got there twice but came up short. The Cubs? It's hard not to liken '84 and '03 to "The Drive" and "The Fumble," so that would point to the Browns, but if I have to pick an NFC team in this exercise, there's no other choice but the Lions.

John from Carson City, NV

When will you begin banning baseball questions?

Never. I can ban you instead.

AJ from Brisbane, Australia

First it was Joe Thomas, and now it's Kentrell Brice jumping out a couple of times a game. He strikes me as fast, fierce, and fearless. What are your thoughts on his play?

Same as yours. He's showing he belongs in the NFL.

James from Tualatin, OR

On the Shields or Lacy question, Packers aside and speaking generally, what position is more important for a football team in the playoffs? Their bulldozing back or shutdown corner?

It's a tougher call in the playoffs vs. the regular season, but I think I still go with the shutdown corner.

David from Memphis, TN

Don't know if you noticed, but last week you had two questions from people from Shelby County, Tenn., and one from Nashville. Let this be a sign to other Packers fans of what the crowd will look like on Nov. 13.

Duly noted.

Richard from Telford, TN

Do you think Mike Daniels could replicate "The Refrigerator" Perry on the 1-yard line?

I don't see why not. I'm ruling nothing out in the construction of an offensive game plan for a while here.

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