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What are the keys vs. the Giants on Sunday night? senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in his weekly chat.


Hi everybody. Thanks for logging on. Hope you enjoyed the bye weekend. Let's get going.

Comment From Adam

What do The Packers have to do to win this week?

I think they have to stay balanced on offense, as they were vs. Detroit, and reduce the big plays allowed on defense. Do that and I like their chances.

Comment From Ross

Hi Mike - I'm making my first ever trip to Lambeau Field all the way from New Hampshire for Sunday's game. Anything within the stadium that I must check out?

The stadium tour and Packers HOF are good first stops. You won't be disappointed. After that, there are plenty of local establishments in GB with a great variety of beverages, including the new 1919 Kitchen & Tap here as well. Have a good trip.

Comment From KK

Mike, In light of the Vikings play so far this season, doesn't the Packer's loss to them seem not quite as surprising?

The Vikings are for real, and I'm not sure why fans didn't want to believe that. The Bridgewater injury was not a death knell to their season. They're a legit top 5 defense, maybe top 2, and they're efficient and mistake-free on offense. It's a tough combination, and they're going to be really tough to beat in their new home stadium.

Comment From Adam

You think Eddie gets going this week?

I think he keeps going. I thought he got going pretty well vs. the Lions, but there's more to come.

Comment From Linda P

Mike, When will we know the status of the injured players?

The first injury report of the week comes out on Wednesday. Four players on D -- Matthews, Guion, Jones and Burnett -- all returned to practice on Monday, so that's a good sign. Shields is not back yet, and Cook could be out awhile.

Comment From Scott

I get that it's only October, and yes they're all important, but this looks like a pivotal game. Seems like the Giant's always provide them.

I'm curious to see how the Giants respond after that loss and traveling again on a short week. This game is a big challenge for them, and they'll be looking to avoid a three-game losing streak. Their injury situation has them in tough spots at RB and CB right now.

Comment From Tim

If Shields is still out, who do the Packers trust on OBJ? Or will they have a variation of guys on him?

Not sure, and I doubt the Packers are going to tell us. If they match, I think it'll be Randall, but maybe everybody faces everybody, I don't know.

Comment From Tim

Is it time for everyone to acknowledge that the Vikings D is just as legit as Denver's?

The Giants looked scared of that pass rush last night. I know that was partly due to having no running game that the Vikings had to respect, but it sure looked like Eli couldn't get the ball out of his hands fast enough on most pass plays. They weren't letting OBJ and Cruz develop many routes down the field.

Comment From Matt

Do teams make any special preparations to deal with the personality of a player like OBJ?

I think you ignore the personality stuff and just play your game. Focus on technique and fundamentals not mind games.

Comment From RJ

Cobb's been largely absent. His salary demands a far greater impact in my opinion. When do you think he emerges?

It'll come. Jordy had a 100-yard game last week and he's going to attract more attention now. Cobb can be the same guy he was in 2014 in that respect.

Comment From Josh

Jordy, 4 Tds in 3 games. Thoughts on his start to the season.

He's getting back to looking like the old Jordy. I think the more the Packers move him around in the formation -- from the boundary to the slot to even tighter to the ball -- the more they'll find matchups to go after.

Comment From Steve

Who is going to stop the Vikings? Is this the case of "Offense sells tickets; defense wins ball games"?

We're at the quarter pole. It's a long season. They're good, no doubt, but the more film that's out there, the more teams will find new things to try, if they have the players to execute. It's how this league works.

Comment From David Morell

What kind of game do you anticipate from Nick Perry against the Giants?

Perry just needs to keep doing what he's been doing. He's been highly impactful and if he stays healthy there's no reason that can't continue.

Comment From Guest

I think the Vikings showed the formula for containing the Giant's receivers. A good fast pass rush. Given that the Giants have no real run threat, do you think that formula will work for the Pack?

I think the Giants will have to do more to try to establish a running game in GB, but the Packers have a strong run D, so they may not stick with it. Then it comes down to getting after the QB, because Eli won't scramble around much.

Comment From Joe

Do you think the Viking Defense has the depth to sustain injuries? I see that as their only Achilles heal.

They were playing fine without Floyd and Rhodes. Now Rhodes was back last night and looked pretty tough. Their offensive line is their most vulnerable unit, in my opinion, but that group looked a lot better last night than vs. GB two weeks ago.

Comment From Tom

What have you seen from Kenny Clark so far this year? Does he have the intangibles to push for extended playing time even with Pennell coming back next week?

I expect Clark to continue to get regular snaps. Pennel coming back provides another big body to rotate in vs. the run, but I'm guessing that means fewer snaps for Lowry and Price, not necessarily Clark.

Comment From Lynn

When you talked injury status, you did not mention Ripkowski. Do you know how he is doing? Did he practice yesterday?

My bad. Yes, Rip was back at practice yesterday as well.

Comment From Matt

I stopped playing fantasy football this year. It's helped me appreciate the struggle. It feels good not to root for statistics.

I quit playing 20 years ago and have never regretted it.

Comment From Tim

What do you make of the Rams start?

Give them credit. To start with a 28-0 loss in prime time and come back and win three games, two against the favorites in your own division, says something. They have a darn good defense as well, and they haven't even gotten Gurley going yet on the ground.

Comment From Rick

Giants receivers should provide a good test to see if secondary has cleaned up mistakes. On offense where do look to see the most improvement coming out of the bye?

Keep connecting on the quick-hitters, the timing patterns. When everyone is in sync on those, it opens up all the longer-developing routes.

Comment From Ross

Hi Mike - What's the one thing you will be keying in on for Sunday night's game?

Stopping the big plays in the passing game. If the Packers make the Giants drive slowly and methodically, I like the chances of the run defense and pass rush to eventually get the stop. Give up big chunks of yardage and the game changes.

Comment From Adam B

Just a thought: Our DBs just need to cover for a tick longer and our pass rush will be able to get to the QB more often and force some errors. I believe they can and well. I'm hoping for redemption from our cover guys and continued improvement from Gunter. Looked real good last week. Keep up the great work Spoff!

Gunter is a player on the rise in this defense. He was the best cover guy against the Lions, Capers even said so. He's going to get a bigger test this week. I'm eager to see how he responds.

Comment From Josh

Who's the most underrated starter on the team?

I'm thinking JC Tretter.

Comment From Guest

How much strong will the pass rush be when the DL and the front 7 come back in full stength?

There's no replacing Clay Matthews, so having him back will make a difference. Guion has been a big part of the run defense as well.

Comment From Dan

How about that living legend John Kuhn!

Good to see Kuhn have a nice game. San Diego totally gave that game away or the Saints would be 0-4.

Comment From Jay

Will Shields be back in October?

I hope so, but we haven't been told anything specific. McCarthy has said a few times that he keeps making progress. That's all we know.

Comment From Luke

It's pretty obvious that when OBJ gets irritated, he starts being less productive, so does McCarthy tell whoever is covering him to knock him around a bit?

Cover him and let him take himself out of the game. I just don't believe changing your focus because of an opponent's personality accomplishes much.

Comment From Jay

How important is winning the division for the sake of playing at home? With the Vikings pass rush at home and the Packers run D and tough winter conditions I don't see many QBs lighting them up in January in Lambeau.

Well, you have to win the division to have any real chance of playing at home in the playoffs. Get a wild card and you're a 5 or 6 seed and a road warrior.

Comment From Tom

Do you think we'll see any of Janis at WR 3-4 or is there still some coming back to do?

I'm not sure how quickly he gets thrown back in there on offense. It might take some time. It's not like he could do a lot of ball-catching drills the last 6 weeks with that club on his hand.

Comment From Hollywood

Marc Sessler wrote an interesting feature piece for the league's website detailing his college years and his desire to work for the Cleveland Browns. He showed a couple of letters signed by Bill Belichick (then the head coach of Cleveland) encouraging him to pursue his ambitions. Do you have any similar stories?

Not really, other than in my final quarter of grad school, two of my teachers worked in the sports dept. at the Chicago Tribune. I actually landed my first job as a sports reporter (in Wausau, Wis.) with about two weeks of classes left. When I asked them what I should do, they in no uncertain terms told me to get the heck out and go to work. I mailed my last few assignments back to them to finish up.

Comment From Mark

Listening to Ben McAdoo's press conferences as a Packer coach (during the playoffs and the Draft) was my first indication, although limited, he had head coach potential. Did the Packer media feel his arrow was pointing up before he left?

Mike McCarthy always spoke very highly of McAdoo in his time here and had no doubts he was headed somewhere. I don't consider myself a very good judge of that, but I believed McCarthy.

Comment From Tim

Kind of weird seeing the two teams from the NFC Championship last year at 1-3. Plenty of season left of course, but they need to turn it around quick with these other NFC teams on the rise. I suspect a tight playoff race this year!

Me, too. I never would have thought Carolina and Arizona would both be 1-3 out of the gate.

Comment From Susie

Vikings defense is good, no doubt, 4 games in, the hype train is gaining momentum and many on their bandwagon. I'm not ready to crown them NFC North Champs yet!

I'm not either, but they are the team to beat at this point with that early win over GB. Long way to go.

Comment From Tom

Did you watch MNF last night, if so, what surprised you most?

I was surprised at how flustered and hurried Manning looked. He's better than that. I think he was really skittish about the young, inexperienced running backs needing to pick up the Vikes LBs blitzing up the middle, and those backs often weren't up to the task.

Comment From Nick

Mike, crazy how when you look at the schedule you see some games that look like they should be easy, but now look like they will be a major challenge (Eagles and Falcons). You just never know from year to year until they start playing the games.

No doubt. That's why I wrote last week that the offseason strength of schedule stuff is meaningless. Nobody had the Falcons game circled when the season started. And there's still no telling just where the Eagles will be come late November. It's a week-to-week league.

Comment From Nolan

Mike, has everyone forgot that Randall didn't play CB in college? It's really only his second year ever playing CB.

I thought his comment yesterday, which I wrote about on the site, regarding banging his thumb in the first quarter of the Minnesota game said something. You can't play press man with a bum thumb. He's been fighting through some things. He'll get there.

Comment From Linda P

Mike, Which of the 2 teams Arizona or Carolina have the best chance of "righting their ship"

They both still can. The Panthers are still adjusting on defense without Josh Norman. That was a big loss. The Cardinals have plenty of talent, too, but both QBs need to get healthy and start playing better. That's really what it comes down to.

Comment From Susie

Does McAdoo's familiarity with the Packers make the game preparation different and will the coaches have to adjust because of it? I didn't read previous questions, sorry if this has been addressed.

I don't think there's much to that, really. The offense evolves every year, and he's been gone for a few years now. Some concepts are the same, yes, but as long as you can run those concepts with different personnel groups and out of different formations -- which McCarthy regularly does -- then an opposing coach's knowledge limits any advantage.

Comment From Tom

Do you ever look at ProFootballFocus and how much merit do you put into deep analytics? I know stats tell a tale, but I hear players like Aaron say other things? Whats your thoughts on it?

The factual stuff like number of snaps, where players line up, formations, etc., is worthwhile info. Getting into the subjective evaluation of player assignments and execution without knowing the playbook and what players are taught and coached to do is dangerous territory. Those analyses can be very interesting, no doubt, but I don't take it as gospel.

Comment From Matt

It always makes me a little sad when Collinsworth casually mentions PFF during the Sunday night pregame. It happens every week.

He's a big believer in it, and that's fine. I really like Collinsworth's commentary on games.

Comment From Dan

Did you attend any Packer games as a kid? If so, any memories stand out?

I've told this story before, my first one was Packers-Bears at Soldier Field in Dec. 1984. Both teams had QBs banged up, and Walter Payton played some QB for Chicago. Packers won the game on a long TD pass in the final minute from Rich Campbell to Phil Epps.

Comment From dave

The front 7 on defense has been great allowing only 50 yards rushing a game. But the pass defense has been very ineffective in allowing a 200 yard receiver each of the past two weeks. How do they bring more balance to the defensive side?

You keep doing what you're doing against the run and give time for the secondary's communication and execution to come around. Julius Peppers talks all the time about it being a process to build a defense through the season. I'm taking that approach here, too.

Comment From Matt

What is the strength of the Giant's defense?

The pass rush. I thought Olivier Vernon was really tough to block last night. If he and JPP are both on their game at the same time, that's a tough combination.

Comment From Nick

Since it is Giants week, I have to ask you what you remember about the 07 and 11 season playoff games vs. The Giants. I know it has no implication on this week, but as a fan, those are two of the most disappointing games I ever watched as a Packers fan, because those were two years it looked as though we could add to our Super Bowl Titles.

I remember thinking the Packers were lucky to get the '07 game to OT because Tynes kept missing FGs. Manning was just on his game with the back-shoulder throws to Plaxico that night. The '11 game was just an out-of-character sloppy performance by an offense that had been so sharp and efficient all season and had taken care of the ball so well. Allowing a Hail Mary before halftime didn't help.

Comment From Tom

Talking Big10 Badger Football, they had a chance to win Saturday. How good do you think that defense can get?

I thought they held up pretty well without Biegel at the Big House. When they have everybody healthy, that's a really tough unit. I'd like to see them win the Big Ten West and get a shot in the league title game.

Comment From Tim

How tough mentally do you think it is for teams like the Lions or Chargers to lose such close games consecutively like this?

It's brutal, but as a pro you just keep plugging away. Players can flush losses much faster than fans because they have to.

Comment From Jason

Please tell me Rodgers is still angry. He needs to stay that way all season to quite the critics and keep the offense rolling.

I'll be sure to say something at his locker on Wednesday to get him fired up.

Comment From Guest

Going to my first game at Lambeau this week. As a photographer, where is the best place to get a view of the stadium?

If you have a chance to get up on the north or south lofts inside the stadium, you can get some great shots.

Comment From Chris

Mike, what positions or players do you feel have the most potential for growth by the end of the season?

The three second-year CBs in Randall, Rollins and Gunter, plus Ryan and Martinez at ILB. There's a lot of youth playing on defense right now and the unit should be better for it later on.

All right, my hour is almost up. A few more.

Comment From Nick

Which way do you think the number 3 wideout is leaning? Does Adams still have the overall grip on the job (I know he lost snaps vs. Detroit) or do you think it will be pretty rotational the rest of the way?

Good question. I think it depends on how much up-tempo, no-huddle the Packers play. If they aren't going no-huddle, I think we'll see more changing personnel from play to play.

Comment From Daniel

Hasn't been a down-to-the-wire primetime game since Packers-Vikings in week 2. Think Packers-Giants will deliver a good one for the national audience?

I always go into games thinking they'll go down to the wire. Only when they don't is when I'm surprised.

Comment From Guest

Looked like the Giants secondary was banged up last night against the Vikings and the announcers made mention of them being shorthanded a few times. Do you know if they were dealing with short-term or long-term injuries? Are they expected to be at full strength this weekend?

I don't know the whole situation, but yeah, they were definitely short-handed last night. I saw DRC suited up even though he didn't play, so maybe that means he's close to coming back.

Comment From Tom

Just want to say thanks for doing these chats, its fun to get interaction with the people behind the Very cool.

Thanks for all the participation. Enjoy your week, everybody. Best, Mike

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