What are the keys to victory Sunday?

Packers.com senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in Mike's Mid-Week Chat


Hey everybody. Thanks for logging on. I've got some time here before I have to head out to practice, so fire away.

Comment From Tom

Mike, Do you think the Patriots tampered with M. Bennett before he was released?

I have no idea. The NFL doesn't seem to think so. It was reported from a media conference call yesterday that the league is not looking into it.

Comment From Guest

Since it is throwback week, who is your all time favorite old time packer?

I remember being so fired up as a kid when the Packers got John Jefferson to go with Lofton and Coffman in the passing game. I loved JJ with the Chargers and Fouts.

Comment From Adam

My favorite play of the game was Jamaal Williams beating 3 guys in a row for a first down. Since I didn't listen to the live call, were you able to hear Larry's reaction?

No, but it looked just as impressive from the press box.

Comment From tghn

Mike, I think you hit it on the head with the turnovers. How important will it be for the defense to force a couple this week?

It always helps, but more important, against this Baltimore D, you can't give the ball away. They thrive on it.

Comment From Tom

Hey Mike, the past two games it looks like Hundley has been anxious in the pocket before settling down in the fourth quarter. Now that he has his first win do you think it will slow the game down for him and we can expect to see four quarters of confidence?

It'll come eventually, but you have to remember he's seeing all these defenses live for the first time. A QB like Rodgers has a huge memory bank from a decade as a starter that makes a difference in how a game starts.

Comment From Blaine

What are your thoughts on our throwback uniforms?

I've always liked them as a once-a-year thing. But that's enough.

Comment From Rodney

What is your take on Greg Olsen being able to be in the booth at the vikings game a week before he is eligible to come back from IR and play against the vikings?

I understand MInnesota's concerns and don't think it's appropriate.

Comment From Guest

Are the Vikings making the right decision with Keenum over Bridgewater?

For now, absolutely. Keenum just threw four TD passes in a road game. You go with the hot hand.

Comment From Scott LC

Mike, watching Bennett catching passes for New England sure didn't sit well with me. Can you comment on this yet?

I can comment that it doesn't sit well with me either, but that's about all I'll say.

Comment From Dean

Hi Mike, I've been very impressed with Kenny Clark this year. How does he compare to B. J. Raji at similar points in their careers?

The only thing missing for Clark is the sacks, and he's been so close so many times. They'll come. Raji had a nice sack total for an interior rusher in his second season.

Comment From tghn

Do you think we'll see more wildcat?

No idea. I guess this week will tell us whether that was a matchup thing against the Bears specifically, or if it's going to be a weekly change-up in the offense.

Comment From Ashley

Hey Mike! Do you think our run defense can maintain that level of performance throughout the season? Or will it change week to week?

I think Green Bay's run defense has been pretty solid all season, except for a few fourth quarters (CIN, DAL, NO). It's always hard to stop the run in the fourth quarter. The key is to not have to.

Comment From Ashley

What's your favorite past Packer/Ravens memory?

The last time these teams played, Rodgers ran the classic play-action deep shot to Nelson, and it was picture-perfect for a 60-plus yard TD. They don't look any better than that.

Comment From Matt

Remember when everyone was bemoaning the perceived lack of OL depth? Those were the days.

Hats off to McCray and all those guys who have filled in over the season. All you have to do is see what happened to the Dallas passing game last week when the Cowboys lost their LT, and it gives perspective on what GB has done up front this season.

Comment From Mike

I'm so eager to see Mays play and get his opportunity.

Me, too. He's 230 pounds and didn't look easy to tackle in the preseason games.

Comment From Dave

Why not give Jeff Janis another crack at the kickoff return job now that the weather has turned and opportunities are more plentiful. He seems better suited for the job than Trevor Davis with his size and speed combo as well as his physicality.

Nothing against Janis, but I think Davis is close to breaking one, either on punt or kickoff. He had a nice KO return to start the second half in Chicago, and the long punt return that was called back was close to a phantom call. He's really close.

Comment From Guest

Speaking of impressed, I was pretty impressed in what I saw from Trubisky last week. I think he has a bright future in the NFL. Looking forward to the renewal of that rivalry in the coming years.

GB fans can get used to seeing Trubisky in this rivalry for many years to come, I suspect.

Comment From Matt

Do you think that the Bennett stuff will affect how the Packers approach free agency in coming years?

I don't think so, other than perhaps even more due diligence on making sure an outside acquisition is a good fit in your locker room. Jahri Evans is a great example of a veteran who has fit in seamlessly and performed at a high level throughout.

Comment From Gary

Mike, you mentioned today in the Insider column about penalty's enforced on the kickoff could be used to pin the returner deep. I've very rarely seen it attempted. I think it would be a great opportunity. Why do you think it is rarely attempted?

Good question. Some kickers aren't all that adept at the high, short kick maybe? It can be tricky, and if you botch it, you can end up way worse than giving the ball to the other team on the 25 with a sure touchback.

Comment From Rodney

Were you just as surprised as me when i saw Tyrod Taylor is being benched in favor of a fifth round rookie? They are 5-4 and still in the playoff hunt!

I don't follow that team at all, but I'll just say it's strange to me that you make a QB change when your defense just gave up 47 points. Buffalo has allowed something like 500 rushing yards the past two games. Nothing the QB can do about that.

Comment From tghn

Why would the Raiders put a dome in Vegas? As a long-time football fan, give me grass, sunshine, rain, snow, but please no roof!

I'm with you. The league does not need more domes.

Comment From Michael

Do you know how to get one of those Surface Pro stands with the Packers logo like you have in the podcast photo of you and Wes? Or is the logo just a sticker someone put on?

It's not a sticker. It's real, but I don't know where they came from. Those were all set up before Wes and I ever taped a show. Glad you like the look.

Comment From Adam

Have you been able to notice any development from Josh Jones over the course of the season thus far? Any takeaways?

He's been asked to move around and play a lot of different spots due to the injuries. You can see his explosive ability. I just wish the health of the defense would have allowed him to settle into one spot and attack it.

Comment From Chris

Mike, Did you see the block Jordy Nelson had in the box on the Montgomery TD? Would you consider that a hold?

Some call it, some don't. The fact that he didn't grab anything, and the defender never really made much of a move to get away from him, probably convinced the official to not throw the flag.

Comment From Matt

Was the special teams great or terrible against the Bears? The media can't seem to decide.

The units are showing flashes of greatness with sloppiness that needs to be cleaned up.

Comment From Mark

How does our front seven stack up against Balitmore? Do you anticipate being able to get a rush on Flacco with just 4 guys?

Dom's preferred mode the last few games has been five-man rushes, but it all depends on how the game unfolds. I'd like to see the four-man group of Daniels, Clark/Lowry, Perry & Matthews take command of those situations.

Comment From Joycel

Do we have permission to call you Mikey? I don't care for the use of it personally, but just thought I'd ask.

It's not my favorite, but I'm not going to ban anybody or anything.

Comment From Tony, Tbilisi

With the first W done, do you sense a little more relaxation in the team? If so, how confident are they (and you) about the first win at Lambeau?

I wouldn't characterize anybody as relaxed, but a win is always a boost of confidence to go with the focus I've seen all along.

Comment From Travis

I loved hearing Bahktiari say, "Brett, great job being Brett!" That shows the teams confidence in him and that it has been there and he didn't need to earn it since he became the starter.

That was a great line, I agree.

Comment From Dave

Mike, Biff recently referred to me as being condescending when I asked, and he thoughtfully answered, a relatively tough question about the teams prospects for success. In today's insiders you gave the following response to a question about fans who aren't positive about the team: "Maybe their life is so great that in order to escape, they have to get angry." Why is it not ok to both be a fan and want to discuss difficult, challenging topics. Seems like fans like me get shamed for not being perpetually optimistic regardless of performance. Thanks.

There's definitely a difference between the ranters and the thoughtful questions. I was referring to the ranters. I have no problems with respectful questions, but projecting things we just really don't know about is not my thing. I like to see and then try to analyze, not predict.

Comment From Tom

MI at WI...your prediction?

Low-scoring. Should be a great battle of defenses.

Comment From Ethan

You're still here?! I thought I was going to miss out on this. Usually you're at practice already!

Practice is a tad later today, but I do have to head out soon.

Comment From Dean

What's your take on blitzing? The Packers get burned a lot when the blitz doesn't get home.

A lot of teams get burned when the blitz doesn't get home. It's a risk-reward proposition every time, sending 6 or more rushers that is. I don't really consider 5 rushers a blitz, unless the fifth guy is a DB, which happens too.

Comment From Mike

I always remember the Mikey likes it cereal commercial- is sounded ok with that useage.

I liked that commercial, too, until everyone at school in second grade started calling me MIkey and asking what kind of cereal I liked.

Comment From broadwayjoe

I think Zook may have had something to say at halftime. All the screw ups on special teams were in the 1st half. Or do the coaches talk directly with the players at halftime?

They talk to them. It's just a matter of discipline on the penalties, and mental awareness on other issues. The special teamers are a lot of young guys, but it's mid-November now.

Comment From Guest

As a fan who loves to watch the defense, any chance we could get defensive highlights? I missed all Perry's sacks this week. I know Offense 'sells', but I'd love to see the hunt!

The game highlights on the site come from the league, so if the Perry sacks aren't specifically in there, it's because they didn't send them. They were probably too busy editing Clayborn's 6 sacks for the Falcons.

Comment From Frank

Maybe one of these "trick" plays where Cobb takes the snap he will throw it to Davonte or jordy

It could be leading up to that, or it could just be giving defenses something to waste their time preparing for.

Comment From Lou Piniella, Jr.

You pretty much have to put a dome or at least a retractable on a stadium in Vegas. If you've ever been there, and spent 30 seconds outside, you know it can be hotter than hell, which is perfectly simpatico with its Zeitgeist, whatever that is.

I can buy that, but I still don't like it.

Comment From Dean

Who wears the headset on defense this week?

It looks like it'll be Martinez's at least until Burnett comes back, and he may keep it the rest of the way regardless.

Comment From Scott LC

How long do you think it will take Goode to get in sync with the new holder?

He already worked with him for three games. It'll take two snaps with a vet as experienced as Goode.

Comment From Bruce

I agree that 9 wins won't get you invited to the dance this year. That means the Packers have to go at least 5-2 the rest of the way to have a shot. To me that makes the must win games, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and the Vikings in addition to stealing one on the road from one of the Panthers, Steelers and Lions. That is a very tough row to hoe. Do players tend to look ahead to their playoff chances or are they pretty well-trained to take things the proverbial "one game at a time"?

They focus on the game in front of them. Most of them are aware of the big picture, but they know thinking about it won't do them any good. Preparing to win the next game will.

Comment From Shaun

Are you seeing improvements in the pass defense because it looked like the Packers got lucky with some drops and bad throws last week?

That's football. The weather wasn't great in Chicago, and both teams had to deal. As I said in Inbox, I wonder how much of a boost Trubisky's confidence would have gotten, though, if Inman catches the third-and-10 over the middle in the final minute.

Comment From Tom

Did the embrace between Rodgers and Hundley after the TD throw make you smile as big as it did me? Pretty cool moment.


Comment From Sean_C

If we get a W this wknd do u think the media makes us more "relevant" in the big picture?

Only if the Vikings lose and the division lead is down to one game.

Comment From Lee

So if the Packers don't sign anyone this week then they will have to drop D. Mathews again?

Probably, but we'll see what happens. Spriggs is eligible to come off IR, and if you don't need the 53rd spot, you could keep Bulaga on the roster until you need it.

Comment From John G.

Hundley seems like to me he is improving each game he plays. But the last couple of games its as if they run a great scripted first drive, then have a great 4th quarter, and not a ton of consistency in between. I'd like to see more consistency throughout the whole game. Do you think they are close offensively to playing a complete game?

The Chicago game saw the most production, in my opinion, in the middle two quarters compared to the other games. I think that's a good sign.

Comment From Ray L. from NJ

Was McCarthy prepared to challenge the "Pylon Play" if Fox didn't ? It might make Fox feel a little better if he knew that.

I'm not sure the Packers would have seen a replay in time to challenge it if the Bears had just continued without throwing the red flag themselves. Once McCarthy saw a replay on the big screen after the challenge, he had a good idea what the ruling would be, but the timing of anybody seeing it upstairs and letting him know would have been the question.

Comment From Ryan

What is the most positive thing u can see in Hundley's development?

I saw him keeping his eyes downfield more on scrambles, and the plays he made in the fourth quarter were outstanding. Big plays in big moments can make up for a lot of other things that don't go perfectly.

Comment From J

If Monty is out Sunday would you anticipate williams or Mays being the 3rd down guy?

I think Williams will be. Mays could be a backup to give Williams a breather on first or second down at some points.

Comment From Lee

If Packers stop the Ravens' running game, will they have a good chance of wining this game?

I think so, but the Packers have to run the ball, too. Baltimore isn't great against the run, and the Packers need to stay balanced, like they did against the Bears, to put Hundley in the best situations.

Comment From Chris

How do we clean up the yardage gained from screen plays on 3rd and long?

Screens that are diagnosed quicker aren't as successful. The Packers need to see them coming sooner and react accordingly.

OK, almost time to go to practice. A couple more.

Comment From Scott LC

Go Rams!!!

I'll second that motion.

Comment From Nathan

Which of last year's NFC division champions will have the hardest time getting back to the playoffs? Obviously the Packers have a lot of work to do, but the Falcons and Cowboys are in trouble as well.

It's not out of the question for the NFC to produce four different division winners from a year ago.

Comment From Richie

What is your take on Kevin Kings performance so far this season?

When he's been healthy, I've been impressed. I like that he's a different size/style cornerback that the Packers haven't really had in a while.

Comment From Guest

How far is your desk from the practice field?

Not close enough. I gotta run folks. Thanks for all the questions and participation today. It was fun as always. Take care, talk next week. Best, Mike

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