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There's more than one way for a player to make an impact

Every team wants to play at home in January


Eric from Greenville, WI

After the past few seasons in which there has been example after example and lesson after lesson, why don't fans get it yet? I see all these predictions again, and we have to beat Detroit. That's it, there's enough to talk about right there. Beating Detroit. Why the need to dream about every other scenario that has zero bearing on anything at this point? No other matchups matter at all right now except how we match up with Detroit, so why all the focus on everything else with fans?

It's the way sports fans are wired. They want to know every aspect of the game and every playoff scenario they come across. That's totally fine, but I hope they understand that's not necessarily how their team looks at things. The Packers are all about winning this football game and whatever else comes after is secondary. They don't want or need any added distractions. There's enough to worry about with the Lions.

Steve from Bullhead City, AZ

Insiders, playoffs begin Sunday for the Packers. I wonder if Coach McCarthy has taken that mindset into this game.

Not to speak for McCarthy or anyone on the team, but I think the Packers have had a playoff mindset since the plane touched down in Green Bay after the 42-24 loss to Washington in November. They've been operating with a razor-thin margin for error over the past 1½ months and responded with one of their best stretches of football under McCarthy. The playoffs technically start next week, but the postseason mentality has been in place for quite some time now.

Christopher from Watertown, SD

During a press conference there was no comment on keeping stats on how much attention a player receives because it deals with their analytics. So this obviously is something they measure every game. Did I understand that right?

McCarthy left it up to interpretation but said there are analytics that the team tracks about player performance. He wasn't going to go into specifics, but he definitely agreed with the premise of the question about judging players based on how much attention they draw from a defense. It's something you have to take into account. The example I used before was how Jared Cook drew the deep safety off Jordy Nelson on his third-down catch in Philadelphia. There's more than one way for a player to make an impact. It doesn't always have to be on the stat sheet. Cook is a great example of that.

Jim from Gresham, OR

It has been talked about giving coaches unlimited challenges. But if they lose the challenge, then they get penalized 5 or 10 yards. This would speed up the game. No reviews by the on-field official.

I apologize if I'm not understanding your question properly, but I don't see how giving coaches more challenges would speed the game up and also lead to no reviews by on-field officials. I still have yet to come across an incident in my time covering the Packers where a bad call stood because a team couldn't challenge. The rules inside the two-minute warning prevent any game-changing wrong calls to stand.

Kevin from Omaha, NE

I know the Packers are hot and will have to go on a 10-game winning streak to win the Super Bowl. What's the longest win streak of a past Super Bowl winner?

The wise-aleck answer to your question is the 1972 Miami Dolphins with a perfect 14-0 record (17-0 after the Super Bowl). The next I could find is the 1976 Oakland Raiders, who won 13 consecutive games en route to winning Super Bowl XI. The Panthers had a chance to run the table last year before their 14-game winning streak ended in the Super Bowl.

Maggie from Kenosha, WI

Which three former and which three current Packers would make up your ultimate dodgeball team?

Past? I'd have to say Brett Favre (arm strength), James Lofton (athleticism), and Ray Nitschke (Ray Nitschke). Present, I'll go with Aaron Rodgers (arm strength/competitiveness), Damarious Randall (speed) and Richard Rodgers, who not only is tremendously gifted athletically but also can throw a football a country mile.

Jack from Moweaqua, IL

Hey guys, I got tickets to the wild-card home game if we win Sunday night, but I have no idea what to expect out of this game. If we win, will it be because our defense continues to get turnovers or will Rodgers have another type of Week 17 MVP performance?

This isn't the answer you want, but I'd say it's a little of both. I think the five-game winning streak is a byproduct of the defensive takeaways, and what Rodgers and the offense have done with them. Not only are the Packers doing a great job of protecting the football – one lost fumble in December – but they've also been lights-out when it comes to generating points off turnovers, with 52 points off 12 takeaways. That's making the most of your opportunities.

Jeff from Cedarburg, WI

Happy holidays, Insiders! I appreciate you guys taking the time to answer our questions. They're very helpful and it helps us fans stay connected to our favorite team! I'm moving to Tennessee in a month which doesn't worry me too much because it seems there are Packer fans across the map. How does the Packers road support compare to other teams?

I'd have to say it's between the Cowboys and Packers for the proliferation of fans at road venues. I was amazed by the amount of people who turned out for our pep rallies in Canton, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Atlanta and Nashville. Best wishes with your move.

Jim from Champlin, MN

So Detroit's prospects this weekend are anywhere from the second seed in the NFC and a first-round bye to being out of the playoffs altogether. Is that a product of league parity? When was the last time a team had such a wide range of outcomes based on one weekend of football?

I think it's definitely an example of the parity in the NFC. Outside of Dallas, it seems nobody has really pulled away this season, with a lot of teams hovering in that eight-to-nine win range right now. I don't know if it's any more unusual than previous years. It always gets tight at the end of the season.

Joe from Madison, WI

I know this is very odd, but I want to ask this question. The Packers players have had to deal with slightly cold weather, snow, and frigidly low temps in the last six consecutive games. The players have had to suit up in the appropriate gear underneath the uniforms, especially Aaron Rodgers wearing sleeves in all those games. What does playing in a dome without having to dress for the elements do for the consistency of the offense? How about the defense, who's been covering offenses slowed by the elements? I know it's very odd, but think about it.

There's definitely an adjustment to be made. I think that's why McCarthy made it a point to bring up during his news conference that it's been almost two months to the day since the last time the Packers played in a dome. The speed of the game definitely picks up. Pass-rushers will be faster out of their stance and skill-position players will be quicker in and out of their breaks. The opposing team has to be ready for that. That's why it's important to get the work in the Hutson Center that the Packers have this week. As McCarthy said, proper hydration and dry air are other factors teams must account for.

Tom from Fairfield, CT

Do you think it is standard operating procedure for opposing team's people to read blogs like this?

We sure hope so. The more, the merrier.

Cheryl from Marquette, MI

Can we rush Stafford a lot? I notice he tries to pass under pressure, making for possible interceptions.


Amos from Bondurant, IA

Anyone remember what happened to that German receiver the Vikings drafted?

Moritz Böhringer. He's been on their practice squad all season.

David from Downers Grove, IL

Will James Starks play this weekend?

He's still in the concussion protocol. Your guess is as good as mine at this point.

Josh from Waukesha, WI

Would you prefer the extra two days rest or home field for this type of Week 17?

In the game of football, I'd always take the rest. Maybe you could make the case for the home-field advantage if this was an uncommon opponent, but the coaching staff and many of the veterans have been in this spot before.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Wes, is this what you signed up for?

No, but as my insurance rep told me earlier this week, "Sometimes you get carrots when you plant peas." I'm pleased as a pumpkin seed to be here.

Patrick from Los Angeles, CA

Regarding the NFL MVP, are the playoffs considered at all?

Other than helping lead a team there? No.

Ben from Cypress, TX

As it stands right now, the Seahawks are penciled in as the No. 3 seed and Packers are listed as the No. 4 seed? How does that work?

If the Seahawks beat the 49ers and Packers beat the Lions, Seattle holds the advantage because its tie against Arizona gives the Seahawks a 10-5-1 record compared to Green Bay's 10-6. If both were 10-6, the Packers would hold the tiebreaker because of their 38-10 win earlier this month.

Sam from Grass Valley, CA

Seriously, in the event that Washington loses and everything else stays the same, why not lose? I have a feeling you probably disagree. Please tell me why. I am thinking Seattle sounds a lot better than the Giants, don't you think?

Your feeling is correct. To quote Michael Spofford, "You gotta be freakin' kidding me, man!?" First, why would you ever want to go on the road rather than host a playoff game after seeing how this offense has performed over the last month? The Packers trounced two of the league's best defenses (Seattle and Minnesota) at Lambeau Field during this winning streak. Second, I get what you're saying with the Giants, but honestly who wants to play at CenturyLink Field? I just…I just can't, Sam. I'm not mad. I'm just disappointed.

Jesse from Rapid City, SD

If the Falcons and Saints tie in Week 17 and the 49ers beat the Seahawks, could Green Bay get the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye heading into postseason?

No, because the Falcons' 10-5-1 record would still be better than the Packers' 10-6.

Chris from Wyoming, OH

Bruce asked yesterday about whether we could keep winning the turnover battle long enough to keep this up in the playoffs. Well, in 2010, we won the playoff turnover battle 10-3, including 6-0 in the last two games of the year. It is common, in my opinion, for champions to take the ball away a bunch in January.

One thing I noticed in my research for the Mike McCarthy story I wrote last week is how often the best teams win the turnover margin. There are some exceptions – Buffalo was ranked fifth this year (plus-nine), while playoff-bound Houston is 27th (minus-seven) – but usually the teams that take care of the ball the best are the ones that are playing in January. It isn't as simple as winning that battle to win a Super Bowl, but it definitely gives you a good shot at doing so. Will it continue for Green Bay? As I've said before, if Rodgers is your quarterback, I don't see why not.

BOB from Las Vegas, NV



Ryan from Hudson, WI

Wes, I loved the "7 Days In Hell" reference. Keep up the good work.

Terrific. I'm glad someone got that. I try to leave at least one Easter egg in each of my columns.

Larry from Antioch, IL

Hey guys, would you please ask people during interviews to use a microphone when asking questions? It would be nice to know what the question was.

I'm afraid to ask Rob Demovsky to do anything.

Jeremy from Fort Lauderdale, FL

I have noticed a lot of the questions have been very easy for you lately. Like if the Packers win, do they clinch the playoffs? So I decided to make my question a lot harder. Is a hot dog a sandwich?

Thank you for your question. This is a topic we've been discussing at length in the office, particularly our digital UX coordinator Matt Haberkamp. My two cents? If you need two hands to eat something from start to finish, then it's a sandwich. If you require only one hand to eat something, then it doesn't qualify. For example, I think most people can eat a hot dog with only one hand. Unless, of course, it's a Chicago-style hot dog or chili dog. Those qualify as sandwiches given the size and vast amount of condiments. Also, I recently saw our public relations intern Brock Anderson eat a brat horizontally. In this particular instance, I think it qualified as a sandwich. So my answer is it's all in the eye of the beholder.

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