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What's the key to beating the Cardinals?

Senior writer Mike Spofford took questions in his weekly chat


Hi everyone. Thanks for joining me today. Let's get started.

Comment From Ray N

We've seen the same problems play out on the field since the bye week (and there was evidence of declining efficiency of the offense starting in Week 4, IMO). Delighted Green Bay is in the playoffs where anything can happen, but it's time to accept that the problems that have plagued the offense are not going to get fixed easily, if at all. Let's take it week to week, starting with ARZ.

You're right. I've said often it's a week to week league. I've also said you get in the playoffs and roll the dice. The time for fixing things is over. Now it's just go time.

Comment From Tim

Who's your team to watch coming out of the AFC?

*Kind of hard not to be wary of the Steelers at this point, isn't it?             *

Comment From Tom

In your opinion, how significant is the loss of the Honey Badger?

He's a dynamic player, but he's one of many on Arizona's defense. The Packers will try to find ways to challenge his replacement, but at safety, that's not as simple as a cornerback, for example.

Comment From Tony

Hi Mike, thanks for the chat. What do the Packers have to do to beat the Cardinals?

Among many things, I think the defense has to hold tight in the red zone, and on offense they have to be able to run the ball and control time of possession. I don't think the Packers can win a shootout against that offense.

Comment From Trist

I remember when the pack went out and got Don Beebe and Andre Rison when they needed help and they won the SB. Why don't we try that this year. Obviously, we need help! Is there such thing as too conservative or too draft and develop??

Different eras, different offenses. The Packers caught a break when James Jones fell into their lap after Jordy's injury. He knew the system and could step right in. It's not as simple as just plug-and-play.

Comment From Matt

Do you think things have gone any better shine MM took back play calling? Or is this just a mind thing?

*Drops and a key fumble sure made things difficult on the Packers on Sunday, and those mistakes had nothing to do with play-calling. Those things have been plaguing this team all year. That said, the 19-play, 92-yard drive was as good as it gets, except for being able to punch it in.      *

Comment From Gary

What are your memories of the 2009 playoff game in Arizona? Should there have been a face mask penalty called?

*I remember not really knowing about the facemask controversy until we were well into the plane flight home. I was in the locker room, not at Rodgers' press conference, after the game doing interviews, and there's so much hustle and bustle and work to do after a game like that it's hard to pay attention to everything. I never saw a good replay of the facemask until the next day.          *

Comment From Luke

I thought it was interesting that Jack Del Rio said he as ready for the screen pass. Isn't that exactly what McCarthy wants to hear? If they are preoccupied with the screen, that will slow the pass rush. Playing Aaron for the screen is like telling Nolan Ryan that you are sitting on his changeup.

That's why they call it a chess match.

Comment From Jen

OBJ is suspended. I agree with it but what bad timing for the Pack!

Yeah, for sure. Just as important, if not moreso, in that regard is the Redskins game on Sat. night. If the Redskins win, the Giants are out of it and playing for nothing on Sunday night.

Comment From Brian

Mike, why can`t the fans deal with the fact that this team will have to win with an average offense,but with a good to great scoring defense and with the best special teams we have seen in a while?

Most fans aren't confident that'll get the job done in the playoffs, especially seeing how the Cards, Panthers and Seahawks are scoring points at will. There's no reason to worry about it. Just play the game and see if your strengths can carry the day.

Comment From Tony

What did you think of the press box in Oakland? Had you ever been there before Sunday?

*Had not been there before. Hope I never go back. The view was nice, but nothing else was nice about it.          *

Comment From Guest

Are you going to air any grievances on Festivus? Might not be a good career decision...

Vic will let me air one without any repercussions.

Comment From Carrie

Will the weather play a role in Sunday's game in AZ? We aren't as used to the heat right now.    

Arizona's stadium is normally closed up this time of year. The game will be indoors, climate controlled.

Comment From jdgnyc 

It looked like JC Tretter limped off the field at the end of the game on Sunday. Did he have an injury? What is the current injury status of Tretter and Linsley?

McCarthy said yesterday Tretter was banged up. He also said Linsley was not out of the woods. I consider it a fluid situation through the practice week. Others are asking about the O-line, too. We got no update yesterday on Bakhtiari. He did say on a local show that x-rays on his ankle were negative, but whether he can play this Sunday remains to be seen.

Comment From Joe 

Rodgers made a comment in post game that the offense needs to have a clear direction. What did he mean by that comment, and who is he expecting to set that direction?

*This could be me spiffballing, but I think he wants the players to set the direction by executing something efficiently enough it can be a go-to aspect in big moments. This offense doesn't have that right now. *

Comment From Guest 

Hasn't Abrederis been getting a lot more offensive snaps even before the Oakland game? And now he's been singled out for praise by Rodgers. Do you look for him to play a bigger role going forward?

*I do. He's the subject of my Player on the Rise feature this week, which will be posted shortly after this chat is completed. Look for it this afternoon.  *

Comment From Brian 

Do you think AR has not been as accurate this year as last? Or does this all come down to Jordy being on IR?

I think there were a couple of games earlier this year his accuracy suffered. In Oakland, I saw a lot of catchable passes that were dropped. His 22 of 39 could easily have been 26 or 27 completions.

Comment From BrettGB 

Mike, how do you think the Packers match up against the Cardinals?     

*I've said for a while on this chat I think the Cardinals are the best team in the NFC. I'm curious to find out Sunday how the Packers stack up.          *

Comment From Jake 

Hi, Mike. Whats wrong with Davante Adams? Had such a promising start to his career..Do you think he can turn it around?

*He has to, and I think he will. I'm just not sure when.   *

Comment From Anthony 

Aaron Rogers obviously showed disappointment in the press conference after the Oakland game with the offensive production or lack there of. Whats your take on this?

*He expects more of the offense, he expects more of himself and these guys he's been playing with for a while. They got it going in the second half, but I think he knows four punts and a fumble in the first half will probably get you beat in the playoffs.             *

Comment From Matt. 

The pass game might be a product of the weather. Our WR's might find things easier in AZ. Just a thought.

The conditions haven't been the best the last two games, that's for sure. The wet ball may have had something to do with the drops. Arizona's secondary will have something to do with things, too.

Comment From Randy 

What is going to keep Carson Palmer from throwing 5-10, 20 yard completions to single coverage? IMO I hate single high saftey and think our defense thrives with two men helping up top.               

Two deep safeties is a great coverage, as long as you can stop the run. If you're in nickel against 3 WR, that means stopping the run with six in the box. That's not easy.

Comment From Guest 

Have you heard anything about Woodson's future plans? He would make a great sportscaster - one of the most articulate athletes I've ever seen.           

I haven't heard anything, but Charles is smart enough and talented enough to do whatever he wants in retirement. And if he decides to just spend time raising his kids and running his wine business, I wouldn't blame him one bit. I wish him well.

Comment From Dayne Shuda 

It seems cliche to draw comparisons between 2015 and 2010, but after Randall's TD last week it seems like this defense could carry the team through the playoffs like in 2010. Can this defense get turnovers and points while the offense simply finds consistency if not greatness? That seems like it would be recipe for success.

Interceptions played a huge role in the '10 run. Tramon in Philly and Atlanta, Raji and Shields in Chicago, Collins in the SB. Defenses that turn the ball over are the great equalizer.

Comment From Yon Yonson 

Sorry to your colleague who keeps saying help is not on the way, but won't seasoned vet Andrew Quarles be precisely that in both the red zone and run games?

*I think Quarless can help in those areas, but asking a guy to play dozens of snaps when he's missed three months isn't realistic. The Packers will have to go with, for the most part, what they have.        *

Comment From Paul 

We don't have a good running back and we don't have a deep threat, but we are winning. Can creativity get us any further???

*Tricks? I'm not taking those to the bank.             *

Comment From Jake 

Mike, Vic was getting his free Hotdog when he missed his halftime article, didn't he?

*Ha. No. He actually was having some technical problems. He handled it pretty well, actually. Usually when things start to go haywire, I feel like throwing his computer into the grandstand.         *

Comment From Scott 

Mike, what is your take on the whole NYG/CAR show? Seems like the Panthers did a bit of instigating that isn't getting any air play. There is no doubt that OBjr was out of control. I cant see how the Pack leadership would have allowed an entire game of such behavior.           

Never assume an individual isn't going to go rogue just because of the uniform he wears, or that one individual's actions represent an entire franchise. What's most disappointing is this is supposed to be professional football, and that was very little professional about all the histrionics in that game.

Comment From Jason 

Any comments on Jones' PI calls? Some of it seemed more about the corner not finding traction after the cut was made.

James didn't like the one that took away the TD, but I thought both of those calls on him were legit. I remember OPI being a point of emphasis heading into this year, and I think those calls are up around the league.

Comment From Scott 

On he INT, it appeared AR wanted Janis to break it up at the very least. From the replay it appeared JJ drifted back a bit when the ball was in the air. How did you see it?

*As a receiver, it's never a good idea to wait for the ball. Always attack it. If you can't catch it, do everything you can to make sure the other guy can't. It's a learning moment for Janis.         *

Comment From Josh 

Where has Clay gone the last few games, do you feel like he has been out of sync with Ryan playing more? Do you agree he is going to have to make a large impact down the stretch for us to move on in the playoffs?

Your best players have to be making plays in the biggest games. Clay's impact has been different this year due to his position, but he will have to be a name we hear in January. Same with Peppers, Daniels and Shields, IMO.

Comment From Tyler 

Hey Mike, I'm just curious what your immediate reactions to Rodgers saying he was aiming for Woodson on his interception pass. I legitimately laughed out loud when he said that. It was a nice funny spot in a press conference that seemed to be clouded in negativity.

I thought it was a humorous way of acknowledging it wasn't a very good throw.

Comment From Jake 

Do you see the Seahawks a different team then the one we beat in week two?

Um, yes. The Seahawks were 2-4 when the Packers were 6-0. Since then, the only team that's beaten them is the Cardinals, I believe. Seattle's schedule was front-loaded with tough games, and now they've gotten on a roll against weaker teams. They'll be as tough an out in the playoffs as anybody.

Comment From Adam 

Why was JJ guilty of a penalty on that TD reception? I didn't understand what rule he violated, since I thought he was within the 5 yard bumping buffer?

*The LOS was the 5 and he caught it just across the goal line, right? Pretty easy call for the official to make, even if it took him a few extra seconds to dig the flag out of his belt.       *

Comment From Matt Russ 

Do you think Aaron Rodgers is disappointed by the way the offense is playing and if so, how can his attitude toward it and McCarthy's attitude toward it be so different? I always believed them to be on the same page as far as playing expectations.

Aaron Rodgers has nothing to do with how the defense and special teams play. His job is QB and running the offense, and four punts and a fumble in the first half really, really bothered him, because with the early 14-0 lead, they could have run away and hid in that game. McCarthy is seeing the whole picture and is projecting confidence this team can do what it takes to win. He doesn't want to get bogged down, publicly anyway, in negativity surrounding one phase of the team.

Comment From Lee 

If Packers beat AZ this Sunday, do you think they have good chance to go to the Super Bowl?

If the Packers beat the Cardinals, everyone will be talking about them as the team to watch out for in the NFC.

Comment From Barry 

I love James Starks. He seems like an all-around good person, and his running/screen catches give seem to give us a spark on offense. He's a good, solid runner. That said, what's the deal with three fumbles in three games, and can that be fixed? Sometimes we get luck (Cobb in the end zone), but usually they're drive-killers like in Oakland.

I love James, too, but occasional ball security lapses have dotted his career. I thought that fumble on Sunday changed the game. The Packers were going to expire the first-half clock and get either 3 or 7, to go up either 11 or 15 at half. Instead, the fumble, Oakland scores to make it 14-13, and the Raiders are getting the ball coming out of half. This Packers team is strong enough now to overcome those types of mistakes (remember the Lacy fumble on Thanksgiving night?), and doing so on the road was commendable, but you don't get to face 6-7 teams in the playoffs.

Comment From Ryan 

Will Charles Woodson's contributions with the Packers be considered enough to be on the Lambeau Field ring with other Packer hall of famers?

Good question. It's kind of a different situation. But I hope so.

Comment From Dan 

Do you think Peppers returns for another season? Seems like he's having fun!

A guy that age getting 2 1/2 sacks in a late-season game says a lot about what he brings to the table. Assuming he wants to keep playing, I'd think he's back, as long as it doesn't become a big cap issue.

Comment From Tim 

What do you want for Christmas, Mike?               

Is the 2 seed too much to ask? Perhaps, but I'm selfish. I'd love to have wild-card weekend off and be looking forward to another game the following week.

Comment From Josh 

On the OBJ subject, Im not big on blaming refs for missed calls but that was terrible that they didn't do anything to put a stop to that mess. That is one of the worst officiating jobs I have seen. Its there job to keep control on the field and they did nothing. I think they should be suspended, what are your thoughts?

*It was brutal, I agree. I believe I've said before that if the league really wants this player safety stuff to be taken seriously, it has to make personal fouls, head-to-head hits, etc., reviewable on the spot. No way OBJ should have been allowed to stay in the game.         *

Comment From Mez 

It used to be the gaining a playoff berth was a sign of hope. Now I'm seeing tons of fans ready to jump, so to speak. Have you ever seen the negativity at this level, considering the circumstances?

As far as the fans are concerned, I believe this week's game will turn things strongly one way or the other. It's the way fans are. That's their right. I'd always rather look forward with anticipation rather than dread, and that's me.

Comment From Joe 

Do you think there's too much of an effort to make checks at the line to run "clean plays" and it's ruining the rhythm? It seemed like against Dallas we had way more success just going up to the line and snapping the ball.

I think that was definitely part of the success against Dallas. Several checks -- those quick throws that you can tell were supposed to be runs based on how the line comes off the ball -- against Oakland worked for 5- and 6-yard passes. That's how it's supposed to be done. But then the runs called to follow those up weren't going anywhere, until the second half.

Comment From Josh 

If we win and the Seahawks win this weekend, do the Seahawks have anything to play for the final week in Arizona. It would be a bummer to see the Seahawks have our number two seed fate in their hands and just rest all their players.

I raised that possibility in my Path to the Playoffs story, which was posted last Saturday. Seattle is either the 5 or 6 seed. How much they care about which one they get could determine how they play the Cardinals in Week 17. Considering the 5 seed goes to the NFC East winner, though (a 9-7 or 8-8 team at best), that might be an attractive spot.

OK, my hour is up. A few more. Thanks for all the questions, everyone.

Comment From Keith 

Isn't it PI even inside 5 yards if the ball is in the air?

*Yes.      *

Comment From Mez 

Have you ever tried curling?

No, but I definitely have to sometime.

Comment From Dale 

Mike, does Jordy travel with the team on road games?

*He has been lately. I saw him after both of the Detroit and Oakland games.      *

Comment From David Brown 

Hi Mike, The majority of the games I've watched this year, Rogers seems to avoid the passes over the middle. There has been a lot of open receivers over the middle and he passes constantly to the outside. The defense knows where he is going with the ball. What's your thought?

I don't think it's avoidance. He zipped one to Abby over the middle on Sunday for 15 yards. He did the same to TE Rodgers and it was dropped. The slant to Janis was over the middle near the goal line and dropped.

Comment From Jake 

If Coach Spoffords Carolina Panthers are 15-0 do you rest your players or put them on the field in pursuit of perfection?

*I play for immortality.  *

Comment From Tom 

Is Cam your MVP?

I still think it's awfully close between Brady, Newton and Palmer. I can see the argument for Cam, certainly.

Comment From Josh 

Do you feel like Sam Shields is the most underrated or under appreciated player on defense? Every time he is out I notice our defense is a little different. Do you think he plays this week? We need him against that perimeter group.

*It would be big to get Shields back this week, yes. Since Week 1, I think he's had a heck of a year.         *

Comment From Eric 

I can't be the only one writing in about Ty.

*No, you're not. He's on IR now. I don't have any sneaky inside info on anything there. It's too bad. He looked like a receiver who could really help this team. The disappointment on his face late last week when he spoke briefly with reporters was obvious. I think he knew this was coming.  *

Comment From Jon 

Mike, I think the way the NFCCG ended last year made Packers fans very afraid of being let down again, and that is contributing to all this negativity and down. I think we all need to turn the page. I have. I don't see any reason why the Packers can't win this Sunday and beyond. Merry Christmas!

That's a pretty good last word for today. Merry Christmas to you all as well. Thanks and take care. --Mike

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