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This game should bring out the best in the home fans

Linemen love pounding the ball into the end zone


Fred from Holmen, WI

With the plays sent to the field on headset, how do the sideline players involved with said play know in rapid time who should be heading to the huddle?

As soon as a play ends, if the personnel group is changing, there are assistant coaches on the sidelines yelling out the personnel call so the players can get in and out quickly.

Matt from Minocqua, WI

Can we, as fans at games at Lambeau, do our part and get behind these men and give them the true meaning of home-field advantage? The last two home games, and since IMO the San Diego game of last season, it has been not there. Way off. We need to be fans at Lambeau and give our guys, who feed off of the home crowd, the home-field advantage.

I don't necessarily agree with all of that, but I will say the opponent this week, combined with the stakes, ought to bring out the best the fans can give.

Jonas from Sundsvall, Sweden

To me, LaDarius Gunter was a weak link during the first few weeks. He didn't seem to be ready for all that playing time. But in the last weeks it seems likes he's really stepped up. He looks comfortable, confident and making plays. What are your thoughts on Gunter's season and the progress he's made?

I think he's grown up a lot in this league and come a long way. I think it was obvious he wasn't ready to be a No. 1 corner, but he was forced into that role when Shields, Randall and Rollins were all out. Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. said as much. He took his lumps, but he's a better player for it now. If Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson had both gone down in 2011, I don't think Shields would have been ready to be a No. 1 corner as an undrafted player in his second season, either.

Robert from West Hartford, CT

My only question is what happens when we get in the playoffs. And I believe we will. I like our chances in December. Do you?

But it's not your only question. You just contradicted yourself. It all hinges on Sunday. If the Packers win, I really like their chances.

KC from Des Moines, IA

I think it's very difficult for the average fan to understand how a team can look so bad one week – or four in a row – and then turn it around and start a winning streak. Is it because the teams are so evenly matched, or is there something else at work?

There's a ton of parity in this league. It's an ongoing week-to-week proposition. I didn't think the Packers were far from victory against Atlanta, Indy or Washington, but they didn't win, and it's a bottom-line business. That's why I'm also not writing off the Vikings, who have led or been tied in the fourth quarter in five of their six losses. It's how this league is.

Jackson from Rothschild, WI

Insiders, not really a question here, but I attended the game last Sunday and was blown away by the sheer mass of Julius Peppers. A few other players came out of the tunnel that looked big, and then Peppers came out and looked quite a bit bigger. I can see why he's been a beast throughout his career and is a future Hall of Famer.

He's a physical marvel. Even more impressive to me is how a guy can play 15 seasons in the NFL and miss only two games due to injury.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Lots of speculation that Dallas will let Detroit off easy by resting their players, but don't forget that Romo is the backup and trying to prove his current worth before the offseason. Would love to see a Matt Flynn performance out of Romo in Week 16 to make his next big contract a reality in Cleveland or San Francisco in the offseason.

If the Cowboys and Packers both win this weekend, Dallas will clinch the No. 1 seed with three weeks left. Jason Garrett could have some very interesting decisions to make. (Correction: If the Cowboys and Packers both win, the Cowboys could still lose the No. 1 seed, but only by losing out and having the Lions win out. My bad.)

Joe from Bloomington, IN

Hey Mike, looks like the Cowboys-Giants game this week could be crucial for Green Bay if the Giants win. Force the Cowboys to beat the Lions, don't you think?

You raise an interesting point. This is where it gets tricky, though, because we don't know in advance how the Week 15 Lions-Giants game is going to come out, which might influence how we'd want Cowboys-Giants to go. My brain starts to hurt trying to process all the possibilities, and that's something I'm usually pretty good at. This is a weird year in that regard.

Eliza from Pembroke Pines, FL

The Seahawks have proven time and again they perform best when it matters most. They seem to move the ball with ease in crunch time and make it look seamless at times. With all that being said, if we lose to them this weekend, do you see any path to the postseason?

A loss would almost certainly take the wild card out of the picture. Assuming the Lions beat the Bears this weekend, then the only path would be winning out, with the Lions losing out.

Jacob from Colorado Springs, CO

I called my brother up yesterday to celebrate the Packers' win, and we brought up an interesting idea. Due to our lack of a run game, would the Packers be better off playing on the road in some of the domes like Atlanta or Detroit than at home? Are we reading too far into this?

I see your point, but I'd always rather play at home. The effect the winter conditions can have on certain visiting teams up here can't be denied. If you check out my**WYMM (Part II)**from Sunday's game, you'll see what I mean.

Cid from Orlando, FL

I'm sure you've got this question in your Inbox already, but just in case ... what are your thoughts on the whole "Cam didn't wear a tie" controversy?

If the Panthers are 7-4 and not 4-7, I don't think Rivera does what he did. I also think there has to be more to the story than one missing tie.

Carl from Sussex, WI

The emotion the O-line players displayed after Ripkowski's touchdown was surprising to me. Was it simply the emotional release of capping off a second consecutive long drive with a TD, in essence sealing the win? Or was it something more? Has "Rip" become an inspirational leader in only his second season?

Maybe a little of all that. But also, offensive linemen love to run the football, and they especially love finishing drives by running the football. The Packers didn't succeed in lining up and pounding the ball into the end zone until last week in Philly, and now they've done it two weeks in a row. It means something to those guys.

Steven from Las Vegas, NV

As I watched nearly 1,000 pounds of our offensive linemen shove Aaron Ripkowski into the end zone against the Texans, something finally "gave" inside me. This should be against the rules. It once was, and should be again. It has a potential for savage (and I mean savage) injury; especially vulnerable in that scrum is the helpless runner the linemen are trying to "assist." Thoughts?

I agree.

Laird from Yelm, WA

I live about 60 miles south of Seattle. On the local news after Sunday night's win Russell Wilson told a reporter that it was the last hard game they would have until the playoffs. I think all of the Packers and the fans need to know that the Seahawks see this game as just a speed bump on their way to the playoffs. Go Pack Go!


Mo from Bartlett, IL

Hey Insiders, what is your key to victory this Sunday against a red-hot Seahwaks team?

Stop the run, whether it's Rawls or whoever, and keep Wilson in the pocket. He's capable of being their leading rusher if you let him.

Jan from Cologne, Germany

Every time Ty Montgomery is on the field good things happen. We need our playmakers to win out. He is my guy to watch. Who is yours?

I reserve the right to change my mind before we shoot "Final Thoughts" on Friday, but right now I'm going with Randall Cobb.

JJ from Cape Coral, FL

I know it's supposed to be a good thing if the punter's name doesn't come up. I think Schum has been fantastic. His ability to kick and leave the ball close to the end zone has been great. When we have needed a long punt he's come through most of the time. What do you guys think about his performance? Nice job, by the way.

I had forgotten before Sunday that he punted in college at Buffalo. He showed the cold-weather skills you look for.

Andrew from Mequon, WI

Richard Sherman, Richard Sherman. Richard Sherman.

That's been replaced in the Inbox this week, for different reasons, by Earl Thomas, Earl Thomas, Earl Thomas.

Adrian from Winston Salem, NC

In no way am I celebrating this because I have much respect for athletes, but is it starting to work in our favor with the Earl Thomas injury and the snow coming that will give us more of an edge this Sunday? With or without him, though, I still like our chances.

The Thomas injury changes Seattle's defense but that's still an awfully talented unit. If the offensive line can continue to protect Rodgers as it has, I expect him to test Thomas' replacement.

Cory from Milton, ON

How did Tampa Bay limit the Seahawks to five points? They looked like a team you wouldn't want to play in December after their performance against Carolina.

The Bucs jumped on top 14-0 in the first quarter with two long drives, put all four of their punts inside the 20, clamped down on Rawls, and got after Wilson with six sacks and two picks. It was a thorough performance by a team on the rise. Also, the Seahawks might have been due for a clunker after a second cross-country flight in three weeks.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

What is the explanation as to the horrid amount of extra points missed this year? Are the kickers "spooked" mentally or is it just a simple lack of concentration? It's getting almost laughable.

I don't know the reason, but I do know the NFL got what it wanted, which was a not-so-automatic PAT.

Ron from Alpharetta, GA

Atlanta losing on the "pick-two" play by Kansas City will put the Packers in the playoffs. Do you agree?

Not with the Falcons playing the Rams, 49ers, and Panthers the next three weeks and the Packers losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with them, should it come down to that. But that was an unbelievable way for a game to be decided. That's two this year, with Denver-New Orleans being the other on a blocked PAT return for two. Sometimes the best drama is the drama you don't see coming.

Ryan from Irvine, CA

Hey Insiders, I thought that any penalty on the offense in the end zone was a safety. At the end of the game when the Texans were called for an illegal forward pass, it sure looked like Osweiler was in the end zone. Why was that not two more points?

It was awfully close. Just be thankful we didn't have to sit through an automatic but meaningless scoring-play review, OK?

Tony from River Falls, WI

Do you see the NFL adding more playoff games in the future? Personally I hope not, especially if they have the No. 1 and 2 seeds play the next-best teams. Lots of weak matchups I think.

That's not it for me. I just don't want to see the regular season lose any of its value. Vic and I disagree on this one pretty strongly. He's all for expanding the postseason and doing away with playoff bye weeks. I think that would be a mistake.

Mike from Algoma, WI

Do you think we might look back on that beautiful 98-yard drive as the beginning of an identity?

I gave up on the identity discussion a while ago. Given the injuries and constantly shuffling personnel, this season has been all about finding a way to win. That hasn't changed. The Packers have to find a way to win on Sunday.

Evan from Rochester, NY

Liking the one-two punch Montgomery and Ripkowski can bring at tailback. Want to see more of what Michael can do. But Starks has been a tragic disappointment.

Tragic might be a tad harsh, but Starks hasn't been the same guy this year. While never a game-breaker, I always viewed him as a steady, consistent performer, but the consistency has been missing. A lot of folks are asking about him, and I wish I had an answer. I still think he's the best screen-pass back the Packers have, though we haven't seen Michael in that role yet.

Ben from Denver, CO

Mike, I found it interesting Biff admitted he would be a little extra excited this week if he were Christine Michael. I only say this because Vic has said for years players don't circle games or get extra motivated to play their old team. He always says, "If they need extra motivation, they already lost." Something along those lines at least. What are your thoughts on this discussion?

I think it's only human for Michael to get a little fired up to face a team that let him go so recently, but you can't become consumed by the emotion. It has to be channeled properly, to prove yourself as a competitor, but it can't become a distraction, like revenge. I think there's a fine line, though every individual may have a different line.

Greg from Franklin, WI

I don't buy a lottery ticket to win, I buy it to dream until the drawing. The Packers may have only cashed one ticket in the Rodgers era, but we've been able to dream until the end most years. This year requires more pixie dust than others, but I'm still dreaming.

It sure beats the alternative.

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