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What does the division race look like now? senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in his weekly chat.


Howdy gang. Thanks for logging on today. Let's get going.

Comment From tom

Mike, Who do you think will fill the vacant roster spot?

I'm figuring Corey Linsley. I don't know if you saw the replay, but what happened to JC Tretter's knee on the video at the end of the Atlanta game didn't look good.

Comment From KK

Mike, Last night was the first time I can remember vigorously rooting for the Bears and Jay Cutler, and I feel a little guilty about it. Tell me it was ok.

It was the sensible thing to do. They couldn't both lose.

Comment From Nathan

Did the Packers essentially give Knile Davis a 2-week tryout for free?

Looks that way.

Comment From Alec

Any report on Jordy? Seemed a bit banged up on that last potential game winning drive?

I haven't heard anything. I thought he had a shot to catch that second-down pass on the last drive, but it was a tad high and behind him. Tough play. He got knocked down on the final play, but don't know anything beyond that.

Comment From Guest

Hi Mike, Looks like the offense is getting back on track. Is getting healthy what this team needs most right now?

No question.

Comment From Jeff

Vikings defeat the Packers. Packers defeat the Bears. Bears defeat the Vikings. Go figure!

It's a week-to-week league. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times.

Comment From Bob

Care to explain to me the logic of keeping only 2 RBs in a 2-RB system (Ripkowski doesn't count). It has led to this entire offensive debacle.

58 points in the last two games is a debacle? I don't see it that way.

Comment From Dave-Vermont

I commented to Wes but didn't get a response. It seems like the Packers should have allowed the Falcons to score immediately to give them ample time to respond.

I don't apply that thinking when the opposing team needs a TD (as opposed to a FG) and the ball is on the 11-yard line. If they get down to the 1 or 2, you could make that argument, but you don't just concede from anywhere in the red zone.

Comment From Blaine

Any ideas on the Packer's plans at RB? Knile Davis was released. Must mean they didnt like what they saw in him. Glad it didn't cost us much.

I have to take it as a sign they're not overly concerned about Montgomery going forward, and perhaps there's good news regarding James Starks on the horizon.

Comment From John

When the quarterback gets the ball to a running back with an underhand pitch does that count as a pass or a run?

It depends if the pitch goes forward or backward.

Comment From Nathan

Is it true that was the first rushing 2-point conversion in franchise history?

I don't know. I'd have to look that up, but it was the first time I've seen Rodgers run the read-option, that's for sure.

Comment From Jeff

The Vikings do not look as dominant as they did earlier. Are teams figuring them out or do they have injury issues of their own?

They've lost their two starting offensive tackles and their O-line is their weakness that teams are taking advantage of now. I'm not sure what happened to their defense, allowing both a 150-yard rusher and a 100 passer rating, but they've got trouble up front on offense.

Comment From Bob

Having to scramble week to week just to come up with some sort of offensive game plan, making most of it up on the fly, is clearly a debacle. Regardless of whether or not you see it that way - open your eyes - putting up points on two bad defenses proves nothing other than bad defenses are bad.


Comment From Reggie W

Implications of Washington's tie on Wild Card scenarios ??? Three in the Conference now including SEA and ARZ.

We shall see. Only one team in the NFC has one loss right now. Everyone else, two or more, with as you say three teams with a tie. It's gonna be a wild ride in the second half in this conference.

Comment From Blaine

Packers beat the Colts if...?

They win the turnover battle.

Comment From tom c

did you ask Jordy why he did not just keep going FORWARD and pick up the 1st down ??

I'm sure he would have been asked that had the 12 men challenge not made it null and void.

Comment From tyler

Demovsky just reported that JC is only a slight MCL sprain, and could miss no time. Anyone else you see could get the extra roster spot?

I'm still going to guess Linsley, for insurance at center, or to play, either way.

Comment From Matthew

Will Rollins or Randall be back anytime soon?

Just my guess, but I expect Rollins back before Randall. Whether that's this week, we'll have to see at practice tomorrow.

Comment From Marla

What do you miss most about not having Vic around on a daily basis?

Our good-natured arguments about football.

Comment From Matt

Hats off to MM this week. He is always being critiqued but he had this team ready to go in a big game on the road despite all the injuries.

Bob would disagree.

Comment From Robin

Do you think this was Rodgers best game thus far during the 2015 and -16 seasons?

He was pretty darn good against KC last year in Week 3. But since then, yeah, it's the best I've seen him play.

Comment From Guest

Does the success of the Packer's offense in the last 2 weeks tell us that we should be a pass first, run second team? When I hear coach say we need to get back to balance, it worries me.

I think Coach McCarthy would have liked to have more of a running game to go to when the Falcons switched from zone to man in the second half. The Packers needed a quicker counter to their adjustment and, as Rodgers said, ended up "wasting" two third-quarter possessions before they got it rolling again in the fourth.

Comment From Dean

Mike, On that last Atlanta drive they were do or die, Ryan had been playing well all day and he was in a great rhythm. Really felt there as a great chance Atlanta was going to take the lead. Rodgers just needed enough time to come back for the win. Thought this was the perfect time to blitz hard. Try to force Ryan into a pick or some bad throws. Worst case we get burned and Atlanta scores quickly. I'm thinking that would have been a good thing.

Capers tried the blitz, on the third play of the drive, and Ryan made a terrible quick throw in the flat to Sanu. Gunter almost had it going the other way. I suspect Capers' thinking was Ryan was going to be more prepared for the blitz should it come again. Given the secondary's condition, it was a tough spot for a DC to be in.

Comment From Jill

Why hasn't anyone talked about Cobb missing the game on Sunday and not even traveling with the team? Can you point to a play in the Bears game that gave him the hamstring issue? Was it already there? So many questions, no answers.

I don't think anyone knows for sure, and Cobb hasn't said anything to the media. He rarely says anything about injuries, and when he talked last Wednesday, he wasn't on the injury report yet so no one knew to ask him about it.

Comment From Steve from cubical 3

Do the Packers have a legit chance to win the division now

Absolutely. Just think, if the Lions go into Minneapolis and win on Sunday -- which is a big if considering Detroit's play on the road this year -- and the Packers beat the Colts, GB and Minn will be 5-3 with Detroit 5-4. Then, it's hang on tight.

Comment From Ray L

I didn't hear all the interviews, did McCarthy explain the strategy of going four 2? It seems to me a 5 point lead is as good as 6. if you fail, the 4 point lead would have left them working toward a game tying FG, instead of Game winning FG. Your thoughts.

His call was the right one. Make them make the 33-yd PAT to take the lead. That's the difference between being up 5 or 6. I don't see why you'd play it any other way.

Comment From Willie

Experience form adversity make a team stronger. Right?

That's the idea. But it's time to not just learn from adversity, but cash in the opportunities to win. The season is almost half over.

Comment From MattTally

Did you think it was odd the Falcons went for 2 in the first half?

Yes, I thought it was too early to play that game, and it almost cost them.

Comment From Robin

I would like to see HHCD have a bigger impact with pass brakeups and INTs. He seems to be just a little late on many plays. My hasty conclusion is that he has not been playing very well. From what you've seen this year, do you think the opposing teams just have not thrown the ball his way that often because his coverage has been good? That's why we don't see that much of him?

I think HHCD would agree he should be making more impact plays, but I'm not seeing glaring assignment errors or anything like that. Becoming more of a ball hawk and taking the ball away is the next step for him, and for this secondary as a whole.

Comment From Dan

Mike, this loss reminded me of the 2010 loss to the Falcons - lots of injuries, Rodgers playing great and leading the team in rushing, coming up just short. Would you feel pretty good about our chances if we went back to Atlanta in the playoffs?

No question, but at least six more wins are needed to get to the playoffs, so let's concern ourselves with that first.

Comment From Josh

Mike, if you were the NFL decision-maker right now, seeing consistently poor ratings this season, what would you do as 1) a short-term solution and 2) long-term solution?

I honestly wouldn't do much right now. After the election and World Series are over, if the ratings are still in a significant dive with playoff-implication games late in the year and such, then you really have to figure out the why.

Comment From Tony C

Look no further than the last 3 games on the schedule to determine our destiny ....

You have to win enough before it gets to that point, though. Three straight road games after this week will be a defining stretch in its own right.

Comment From Joe

Based on the way the North and East teams are playing this year it appears to me that 9 and 7 could make the playoffs.

It could, but I'm not going to bank on 9 being enough.

Comment From Owen

Do you think Linsley can play guard? At the start of the season I figured he would replace Taylor upon return, but Taylor has exceeded expectations. Still, it would be nice to have Linsley as the top backup at all 3 interior positions.

He hasn't done it in the NFL yet, and to my knowledge he only played center at Ohio State. That would be an offseason project if the Packers felt so inclined to try him there.

Comment From Eric

Mike, Even the Fox announcers on Sunday were genuinely amazed at the way the Packers played throughout the game despite being very shorthanded on both sides of the ball. If this isn't a tribute to the coaching staff about getting a football team ready to play a game, I don't know what is.

I agree. That was the most star-studded seven-man inactive list I've ever seen.

Comment From Brian

Can you help me continue giving props to Lane Taylor. He took so much grief from the fans when Sitton was released.

Taylor has played well, no question, but it looked like the interior of the line had a couple of untimely leaks on third down in the third quarter on Sunday.

Comment From tom

Rating are down because the league is turning into touch football.

The fans don't want safe. I get that.

Comment From Timmy D.

Call me crazy, Mike, but I love that our losses are all to teams that we will most likely be seeing again come playoff time. To me the pressure is always on the team that won previously in the regular season. Could you imagine if we faced Philly the first round of playoffs, Atlanta in the Divisional round, and the Vikings on the road for the NFC Championship? I say bring it on, 2010 2.0!!

I think it's crazy to think like that now, but let's see where things are in another 6-8 weeks.

Comment From Ross

Mike - How concerned are you right now with our current defensive back situation? We desperately need guys back!

Capers needs more options to apply pressure if the four-man rush isn't getting home, but I would argue getting Matthews back on the field would make a bigger immediate difference.

Comment From Lee

A lost isn't good but I see a lot of improvements from Packer receivers. They got open and caught almost everything. It's a good sign moving forward.

I thought so, too.

Comment From Guest

Hey Mike, more of a comment really. When I played football, it was illegal for the offensive line to "push" the running back. It seems not only is this legal in the NFL, it is a productive way for the runner to pick up a couple extra yards. The Packers line seems really disciplined in this regard.

I've been surprised by the amount of that going on as well. One play on Sunday, I did see the officials rule forward progress stopped about a yard shy of where Ripkowski ended up in the pile, though, so maybe they're starting to watch that a little closer.

Comment From Guest

When Rollins comes back do you think he gets his spot back?


Comment From Nick D

Mike, this Indy matchup on paper looks good for the Packers, they should be able to get pressure regardless, so regardless of the CB situation that will help, so maybe that buys them an extra week to hopefully get guys back?

Indy is having its troubles, no doubt. I don't think you look at the medical situation that way, though. If a guy is ready, he plays. If he's not, he doesn't. I don't take anything for granted in this league. Ask the Vikings.

Comment From Eric

Can any of the recent success on offense be contributed to opposing teams not having tape on the new GB players stepping in?

I don't think it's that, but I'm not sure the Falcons were prepared for how much the Packers were going to go five-wide and such. They were probably more prepared for Montgomery and Cobb scheme-wise based on the Dallas and Chicago games. The fact that they switched from zone to man after halftime speaks to that a little I think.

Comment From Guest

de·ba·cle dāˈbäk(ə)l,dəˈbäk(ə)l/ noun noun: debacle; plural noun: debacles a sudden and ignominious failure; a fiasco. "the economic debacle that became known as the Great Depression"

Thanks Mr. Webster.

Comment From Jake

Vic once spoke about quarterbacks being over-drafted; do you think fullbacks are under-drafted? In other words, do players like Ripkowski represent much more talent than their draft position would suggest?

Ripkowski is proving his value, but let's not get carried away here. I don't think even he expected to get six carries on Sunday.

Comment From Nathan

Who would be more helpful to get back on the field, Starks or Cook?

I think both would be a big boost. That's a hard call.

Comment From Johnny

Do you ever listen to regional sports talk shows and hear discussions about things that you know are false or incorrect being blamed for lack of performance by the team?

Of course, but I'm sure my analysis isn't 100 percent spot-on all the time, either.

Comment From Brian

Is Greg Jennings and other pundits way off base when they talk about Rodgers not being a team leader and not willing to take credit for his mistakes. You deal with him daily and I can't imagine this to be the case.

I really liked getting to know Greg when he was here, and he was always gracious with me for interview time, but I don't agree with him on this one.

Comment From Guest

I can tell you why the NFL ratings are down, OVER SATURATION. I used to watch Monday night football every week, now that there are so many games on TV I don't care, its not special anymore.

That might be something to look at. Because of the short prep weeks, they try to keep the Thursday night games as division matchups, and they've guaranteed all teams at least one. But that leaves games like Tenn v. Jax in prime time that few people are going to get jazzed up about.

Comment From sane fan

joe thomas deserves more snaps than he's getting. inside linebacker play was horrendous. also, might be time to slide clay into the middle a few times a game (play your best players - lotta talent at outside backer)

I think we could see more of Thomas inside. It wasn't the best game for Martinez and Ryan, though I think "horrendous" is a little harsh. But that said, pressure on Matt Ryan would have won that game, given everything else that happened. I want Matthews on the edge getting after the QB.

Comment From tom

Wis. @ N.W., your prediction?

Badgers don't play well down in Evanston, so it's going to be tough, but I have to go with Bucky.

Comment From RIch

Everyone was worried about lack of DB, WR and RB... yet those positions held upon Sunday. The sub-par performance of the defensive front 7 was very disappointing?

They let one run leak out, and that was a missed tackle by Martinez in the backfield that would have changed the whole possession. Otherwise, I thought they were fine against the run. It was the lack of pass rush against a pure pocket passer.

Comment From Student

I love watching Coach McCarthy show when he is breaking down plays. I would love to spend one day watching film with the Packer Coaches. Do you ever get a chance in the off season for a little football 101 with the coaches?

I wish. That would be great. But when those guys are here, they're really grinding away, and when they get their breaks in the offseason, they're gone and well-deserved.

Comment From Nathan

I think it's safe to say the Packers team at the end of this season is not going to look anything like the team we've seen the last couple weeks. If they can just win a few games between now and then and get to January healthy, then look out.

The potential is there, but it really is one week at a time at this point. It's not about the big picture. It's about winning this one to get to 5 wins, then getting another one, and trying to get to 10.

Comment From Owen

Any chance Cook will be back this week? I have a feeling his ability, or lack thereof, to make an impact for this offense is going to be a determining factor of this season.

McCarthy said yesterday that Cook has made a lot of progress in his rehab, but he stopped short of saying he'd be back in practice this week.

Comment From Stephen

Is the solution to generating more T.O.s on defense to get players who have that natural ability. I know they must practice it, but do you think the Tillmans and Woodsons of the world just had a natural ability to cause fumbles that some guys just can't get... even with practice?

You're talking about the best of the best there. The Packers have gotten turnovers from a lot of different guys in the past. This unit has to find who those guys are going to be.

Comment From Nick D

Cleveland closing it out tonight, or Cubbies pushing it to 7?

I'm rooting to have a Game 7 to watch tomorrow night.

Comment From Linda P

Mike..Thanks to the Bears!!

For sure. That changed the outlook of things considerably.

OK, my hour is almost up and I have to get going soon. I'll take a few more.

Comment From Patrick

Do you think Adams continues to get double digit targets/receptions moving forward or will opposing defenses begin to blanket him more closely?

If Montgomery comes back this week, I don't see Adams lining up in the backfield like he did in Atlanta, but if defenses pay more attention to him, Rodgers will look for a better matchup elsewhere. That's how he plays.

Comment From Stephen

Other than Luck, who is the playmaker to watch on Indy?

Hilton is their big-play guy. Fast, goes deep, gets yards after the catch. He has more than twice as many receiving yards as anyone else on their team.

Comment From Dean

Mike, did you go trick or treating?

No, but my daughter did. She had some awfully scary makeup on. She even came home with a "parent bag" of candy. It's so nice when they share.

Comment From Willie

I thought Wes did a great job on the pre-game show on the radio network. Will you be on any time soon?

Wes does do a great job. We'll see if that opportunity arises for me. I'd be all for it. Thanks everyone. Gotta go. Have a good rest of the week. Best, Mike

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