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These are the toughest games of all

Packers will stay focused on the film


Martin from Bonn, Germany

Am I wrong to believe that the Vikings game will be very hard to win, especially coming off that high from the amazing comeback in Dallas?

It has nothing to do with last week, and everything to do with road games being tough, road games indoors being tougher, and road games indoors against division opponents being the toughest of all.

Estillac from Belem, Brazil

Mike, what's the biggest challenge the Packers are going to face against the Vikings?

Minnesota's defense, which is legit. More specifically, the pass rush on their turf, in their building.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

This will be the first time the Packers play a day game in U.S. Bank Stadium. McCarthy stated last year that had it been a day game, they would have needed to adapt to the translucent roof. Which position does this affect the most? Returners? Receivers?

Both I would imagine, maybe receivers more because there's less time to pick up the ball again if you lose it.

George from North Mankato, MN

This game is starting to feel like a possible trap for the Packers. Not many in Minnesota are giving the Vikings a chance to beat us given the injuries, extra day of rest and way the teams have played the last few weeks. How does MM keep from losing a game that many think we should win?

You keep the players focused on the film, as McCarthy always says. Last year's will show a slot receiver in Thielen who torched the Packers for 200-plus yards. This week's will show an explosive running back in McKinnon who's seizing a second chance, and a tough defense that has never been easy to solve. Everson Griffen and Harrison Smith were the difference-makers on Monday night and won that game for the Vikings.

Benjamin from Bear, DE

I couldn't stop noticing how many times the Vikings' front four effectively "jumped" the Bears' snap count. I found myself saying, "How many times does Aaron Rodgers draw them offside and how many free plays will the Packers get because of the Vikings being so jumpy?" In addition to the free plays, their pass rush has got to be slowed just a little after giving up one or two freebies. I'm guessing three free ones. Your thoughts?

They'll be prepared for Rodgers' hard counts. The Vikings were facing a rookie QB making his first NFL start. They probably realized early that the cadence was the last thing on his mind.

Jon from Summerville, SC

Hey Wes, I saw your Star Wars tweet on the "Today" show. You're moving up in the world!

And here I still sit.

Jake from Greenville, NC

I'm as excited as anyone to see what more Aaron Jones can do, but let's not forget he was playing a defense that had little to no film on him and was missing its Pro Bowl middle linebacker. If 88 can't go again, what's 33 going to be working on this week so he keeps getting the rock against Minnesota?

Probably pass protection.

Barry from Aberdeen, SD

Over the years it seems many times that the Packers make significant changes at halftime that change the flow and tempo of the game (generally in their favor). What I am curious about is what happens in that locker room at halftime? I would guess it's not like a high school game where the head coach is doing all the talking. How do they break everything down for such changes in 12 minutes? They do an amazing job.

Usually, the players gather in the locker room in their position groups and go over things with their position coach. Often the coordinator on each side of the ball will talk to the larger group as well. The players absorb what they can while grabbing a banana or quick smoothie shake for replenishment. Then it's back at it.

Shaun from Oak Creek, WI

Are you guys as concerned as I am about the Packers defense giving up so many third downs?


Against the Cowboys, I give a ton of credit to Prescott for three huge scramble/improv third-down conversions in the first half. Surrendering the opening third-and-13 was really unfortunate, because through four games, the Packers had allowed only 1-of-13 on third-and-10-plus, and that was to Julio Jones at Atlanta. I thought that early letdown got the Packers' defense on its heels, and stopping the plays that break down can be a tough task against certain QBs, as Green Bay opponents well know. Statistically, the Packers are middle of the pack in third-down defense (tied for 18th), but opponents are 5-for-5 on fourth downs, all in the last two games, with four of them fourth-and-ones.**

Shane from Winnipeg, Canada

So the Falcons beat the Packers, but lose to the Bills. Then the Packers beat the Bengals, who went on to defeat the Bills. What's that "P" word again? Parity, was it?

That's the NFL.

Jim from Maple Grove, MN

Is the margin between a 4-1 NFC powerhouse and a 3-2 (or 2-3 if you go back a couple games) middling team with questions as narrow as Sunday?

So is that.

Ric from Boom Bay, WI

I have no way of knowing but I believe this Sunday's MN game will be the latest ever for the Pack to play its first noontime start. In fact, I can't think of another example of any team that took six weeks to play its first noon (1 ET) game. I guess that's the price of being so good, national 3:30 starts and night games.

It's the latest first noon game of the McCarthy era, I can tell you that. The previous one was Week 5 in 2012, at Indianapolis.

Andrew from Kissimmee, FL

Mike, I thought the limit was five prime-time games too, but my roommate is a Chiefs fan and they have six this year. I thought he might have miscounted, but it is six. Do they not count the Thursday night kickoff game in the equation?

Perhaps. Interesting.

Nick from Sturtevant, WI

When Burnett left late in the game, did either Clinton-Dix or Martinez take over the communications headset?

I think it was Clinton-Dix, but I'm not certain. I'll try to ask him.

Chris from Burnsville, MN

Looking at the upcoming schedule, there are only a handful of games left that will be viewable by out-of-state fans. Any guesses on if/which game could be "flexed" at the end of the season?

I would think Carolina in Week 15 and Detroit in Week 17 could be candidates, depending on how the next two months go.

Jackson from Boulder, CO

Yankees to Packers time: If the core four of the early 2000s Yankees was Pettitte, Jeter, Posada, and Rivera, then who joins the current Packers core four that already features Rodgers, Matthews, and Nelson?

Based on longevity and possession of a ring, I think you have to go with Crosby or Bulaga.

Bill from Seattle, WA

I've never understood why a fumble that exits the end zone is a touchback for the other team. What is the reasoning?

I don't know, but it makes no sense to me to give the defense the ball after a fumble it doesn't recover.

Andy from Thompsontown, PA

While watching the Bears game, I caught myself saying "Wow" quite a few times watching Trubisky. I couldn't help but think the rivalry just got better. I am curious, what were your thoughts?

I liked a lot of what I saw from Trubisky. His athleticism and arm strength were as advertised. He made a huge rookie mistake he'll learn from, but the Bears' injuries at receiver (White, Meredith) clearly are affecting their passing game.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

After watching Green Bay and Dallas, the Monday night game was atrocious. Nothing about Trubisky's game scares me. What did you think?

Funny how this works.

Brian from Edgerton, WI

Is anyone else talking about the game Monday night being almost unwatchable? At some point the league needs to do something about the crews that think their job is to throw ticky-tack flags on every other play. It is making games horrible to try and watch. Is there anything that can be done?

Not really. Combative penalties are always going to be subjective, but I agree the Monday night game turned on several highly questionable flags for actions that didn't look consequential. It is frustrating to watch.

Andrew from San Diego, CA

I think Jahri Evans gets a pancake block every single game. Very happy to have him on our football team. Underrated addition.

You can see the chemistry developing with Bulaga on the right side in a short period of time. There was one mix-up in pass pro with Linsley in Dallas, but I expect those to keep getting smoothed out, too.

Nate from Chicago, IL

Is it just me or did everyone else notice that Jordy appeared to get injured on that missed two-point conversion play when he stretched out to reach for the overthrown ball?

That seems to be the consensus. We'll see if we find anything out later today.

Tom from Pine River, WI

I hope Jordy's injury wasn't the result of a bobsledding accident.

I'll double-check.

Willie from Hayward, WI

The Vikings score a touchdown and play duck-duck-goose for their TD celebration. Maybe I need to take a helicopter ride like Vic.

The celebration circle finally arrived.

Karl from Santa Fe, NM

Hey Insiders, just an observation about the "eye in the sky" replay camera angle. Since the camera was positioned behind Zeke, the optics would make the ball appear farther forward than it actually was. The only way to have that camera show an actual depiction of the forward progress would be for it to be directly overhead. Compression by the telephoto aspect of the lens would amplify this effect, as it compresses the visual impact of distance. First time for optical physics in the Inbox?

Indeed. Speaking of visual illusions …

Casey from Frisco, TX

On that final play by the Cowboys, it seemed clear to me that Elliott's first toss to Prescott was a forward pass. Watch in slow motion. Struck me at the time (as the play dragged on) that even if Dallas scored, the Packers could have challenged that.

It would have required a booth review as the last play of the game, but I went back and looked at the All-22 and you're right. The toss you mention was forward, but it looks sideways (and therefore legal) because both players are moving forward in the act of pitch and catch. I wonder if it would have been spotted on replay. It reminded me of multiple laterals in the Cal-Stanford classic that were similarly allowed, when no replay review existed.

Jerry from Des Moines, IA

Insiders, the talking heads used to nit-pick A-Rod's performance and a knock against him was not many comeback wins. Well, we've been down two TDs in two of the last three games and won both. Do you know how many comeback wins A-Rod has and what's the biggest deficit he's engineered a comeback from?

I believe the biggest is from 20-0 at Detroit in 2015, the (first) Hail Mary game. There was also 21-3 vs. the Jets in 2014. Other double-digit comebacks were against the Panthers and Falcons in '11, the Saints and Lions in '12, and the Redskins in the '15 playoffs. His most impressive to me was a game he didn't win, the '09 wild-card game at Arizona, back from 31-10 but lost in overtime.

James from Appleton, WI

During after-game press conferences Aaron Rodgers always seems to look down to the left side of the podium. Does he have prepared notes or is it just a nervous habit?

He doesn't have notes, and I wouldn't call him nervous. He just does it to collect and clarify his thoughts, which are worth every pause, as few as there are.

Matt from Eau Claire, WI

In Davante Adams' postgame talk with Deion Sanders, he talks about how he told Aaron to repeat the same play that they almost connected on in the end zone. What does this say about the confidence of not just our receivers but Aaron's trust in them to execute a play like that?

There's real confidence and false confidence, as McCarthy likes to say. The confidence of a receiver is to be expected, but which is it? The QB's trust tells us it's real.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

The play that keeps running through my mind is in the final game-winning drive when Aaron ran and gained 18 yards, but tiptoed the sideline with his knees up. Then to hear him talk about how he's been working to keep his knees up and extend himself in the postgame press conference was classic Aaron. Always working to improve in ways we wouldn't expect. What play is re-running through your mind this week?

Everson Griffen's strip-sack from the blind side near the goal line.

Adam from Ashburn, VA

My vote for this year's most improved player has to go to Blake Martinez. Who's got your vote?


It's a close call for me between Hawkins and Martinez.**

Michael from Winchester, VA

I just saw a power ranking that put the Packers No. 2 behind KC, with three other NFC teams rounding out the top five. Do you agree with them that the NFC is so much tighter than the AFC at this point? And how about that Alex Smith?

I've felt for several years the NFC has possessed a deeper roster of Super Bowl contenders, and I don't believe the trend is changing this year. Smith is the obvious league MVP through five games, but it's five games.

Zack from Anaheim, CA

After five weeks of football, what do you guys think our biggest weakness is moving forward (aside from injuries)?

My biggest concerns are the run defense late in games, which I mentioned before Dallas, and the red-zone defense. The Packers aren't getting the stops in close to force field goals, though they had one stolen by the bogus flag on Martinez.

Dan from Seattle, WA

Synthetic fibers are stitched into the natural grass at Lambeau? That must keep Marge Switzer awfully busy between the roster cut-down and the postseason when the captain patches are sewn on.

She appreciates the acknowledgement, I'm sure.

Dobie from Bismarck, ND

I'm really proud of how the Packers have hung together and won close games despite all the injuries. I do believe, however, that for us to be a championship team we need to have both tackles back to 100 percent and King, House, Jones, Clinton-Dix and Burnett all in the lineup. Your thoughts?

The Packers are 4-1 and haven't had their best players together, which means they haven't played their best football. That's not a bad thing.

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