What type of game will it be?

Packers.com senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in his weekly chat.


Hey everybody. Thanks for logging on. Let's get to it.

Comment From Ray N

I have growing confidence in our backend and unbridled confidence in our offense. IMO, the Division game comes down to GB's D-line v. DAL's O-line. Hold Zeke to under 85 yards and make Dak beat us with his arm, attacking our better than advertised secondary. Win in the trench and the Packers win the tackle football game. GB 34 DAL 23

Ray coming strong right from the outset.

Comment From Don H

Racking my brain and I can't remember the last time AR was called for Intentional Grounding ... you ???

I can't either. Now you have me curious. I'll have to look it up after this is over.

Comment From Elliott

Hi Mike, how much of an X-factor will Jared Cook be given he didn't play against Dallas in the first go-round?

I think he's been a key figure in the Packers' offense ever since he came back. If Nelson can't play, he might garner even more attention from the defense, though.

Comment From Michael G

With Jordy hurt and possibly not playing, is there a chance to see Montgomery do more receiving?

I wouldn't rule it out. Montgomery's biggest play on Sunday was that catch-and-run he made to convert on third down, 34 yards I think. That was a nifty route concept for him. I look for Allison to get more involved again, too.

Comment From Ethan

I thought I was watching an NFL game last night.

That was some fourth quarter. Very entertaining, and I give a lot of credit to Clemson. That team rose to the occasion these last two games when they didn't look that impressive to me in the regular season.

Comment From Tom

Mike, What is the key to stopping Zeke?

Get off blocks and make tackles. There's no secret scheme that's going to do it or someone would have used it by now. You just have to be better than the man in front of you.

Comment From Travis

I like being underdogs! Feels like the last SB run for us!

McCarthy hasn't used his "we're nobody's underdog" line yet, but I'm sure that's the way he feels about this team.

Comment From George

Generally, would you prefer to be a hot team coming off a win, or a healthy team coming off a bye?

It's gone both ways over the years. In recent years, the teams in the NFC with the byes have generally advanced, but in the handful of years before that (including GB's SB run), the hot wild-card teams were getting it done. I always believe health is huge in the postseason, but a difference-maker like 12 can neutralize that type of advantage.

Comment From John P

Do you think last weeks slow start was due more to adjusting to what the Giants D was doing or the weather?

It wasn't the weather. Rodgers just didn't seem in sync, not seeing the open guy. Maybe it was always the last guy in the progression who was open, I don't know, but once he settled in, he was incredible again.

Comment From Curtis

Speaking of Montgomery, any report on his knee?

McCarthy said he thinks Montgomery will be able to practice tomorrow. I was stunned he came back in the game. That was a great sign.

Comment From MATT

I think the key to this game is on our line play, pressure on dak to help out our corners and let Aaron be Aaron, are there any other match up problems that you see?

The Cowboys can get it done a number of ways. Witten is always tough to handle on third downs. He just knows how to give his QB somewhere to throw the ball, even against good coverage. Containing Zeke will make the third downs longer yardage. That's what the Giants did against them last month.

Comment From Abhi

With Cobb and Nelson to get more attention from cowboys D do you think Allison can make big plays?

He's answered the bell every time so far this season, and mostly on the road, too.

Comment From Gary

Let's assume Jordy is a no-go Sunday. Is this receiving corp different enough from last year to avoid the same struggles? Certainly the second half Sunday gave us hope that it is. Has Adams elevated his play enough to draw coverage away from Cobb and Allison?

Adams is healthy this year. He wasn't last year. Cobb is healthier, though probably still dealing with that ankle. This is not the same WR corps as last year without Nelson. Not at all.

Comment From Kevin

December of 2015 at the lions was his last intentional grounding

Thanks for that. Have no recollection of that one. Obviously the memories from that game in Detroit are of other things.

Comment From Tom

Did you go down to see 'The Hole' yet?

I did not see it personally, but I've seen pictures.

Comment From Margaret

What's your first memory of watching or listening to the Packers?

James Lofton catching a long pass, but I don't remember the game or opponent or any details.

Comment From Keith

Can you compare the anticipated noise level this week versus the last time the Packers played indoors at Detroit? With Dallas' stadium being so much larger does the noise become lessened in all of that space?

Good question. It holds a lot of people, so I would imagine it's pretty loud in there. The Packers have dealt with plenty of loud places. The offensive guys are used to it.

Comment From Jon

I am concerned with how this defense matches up with Dallas. The Giants struggled to run the ball against a 6-man box with the safeties back. Dallas won't struggle.

It will be a different defensive game plan, no doubt. You're not going to stop Zeke with 6 in the box. There will be more pressure on the secondary to hold up with less help. Slowing down Zeke with 7 in the box won't be easy, either.

Comment From David from Kennewick

Aside from the obvious match-ups like Aaron vs the Cowboys defense and our defense vs the Cowboys offensive line, what is the most intriguing match-up you think could tilt the game on Sunday?

How both teams cover the tight ends, Cook and Witten.

Comment From Tom

Do you sense confidence has overtaken angst in your inbox this week?

There's a healthy mixture of both, but Packers fans feel the team is confident, so for the most part they're confident, too.

Comment From Nathan

This season there have been many instances of bend-don't-break defense from the Packers going back to the 4th and 1 in Jacksonville, whilst the Giants only put up 6 in a dominant first half on Sunday. I don't think a big day for Zeke necessarily means a Cowboys win - good red zone D could be enough to make this a shootout and Aaron is scoring for fun right now. Thoughts?

The Packers were 3-of-4 in the red zone last week against the best red-zone D in the league. Keep that up and get a couple of red-zone stops, and it's there for the taking.

Comment From Lori

AR said MM helped him get in sync. What did MM do?

McCarthy talked about giving Rodgers more "basic throws" early to avoid another slow start. The West Coast offense has a lot of base plays, and it would seem those help get Rodgers in a rhythm. The counter is that the base plays are what are on film the most, so defenses are usually most prepared to stop them, especially early. It's a matter of finding a balance in the game plan.

Comment From Lisa

I wonder what those GB lineman are thinking when Rodgers is taking 9 seconds to throw the ball? It's incredible for them to sustain for so long!

I really loved that last-second block Linsley threw on Harrison on the short TD pass to Adams. Harrison had to be so frustrated ... right when he thinks he's finally going to get there, he gets knocked out of the way, Rodgers takes one more step, and boom.

Comment From John

My player to watch this week is Jake Ryan. He turned in an excellent game last week and could be a huge factor in how well we contain Elliott.

Agreed. I thought Ryan played maybe the best game of his career on Sunday. He seems fully past his injury issues from earlier.

Comment From Steve

How much do you think Rodgers helped his MVP case on Sunday?

None. The votes were turned in last Wednesday.

Comment From Nicholas

With the draft and develop model I love watching the difference in players as the season moves on. With lots of rookies, two year, and three year players in important positions the difference a season makes is so massive. Who has impressed you the most in their improvement as the season has gone along? I was very impressed by Gunther against Beckham Jr. on Sunday.

Gunter, Ryan, Adams, HHCD are all 2nd and 3rd year guys that have really developed impressively this year. I'm sure I'm forgetting some, too.

Comment From nik

I'm more concerned about the Cowboys grinding out yards and keeping AR off the field. Am I crazy to want a shootout?

Not at all. That's the game the Cowboys would rather avoid.

Comment From Jimmy

We will probably never see one single qb complete three Hail Mary's in one career again, much less in a span of 15 months time

13 months, but who's counting.

Comment From Garth

Cook is bringing everything he has to these playoffs. How much do you think it rubs off on the younger guys in the locker room?

It would be almost impossible not to notice how much it means to him, I would think. Same with a guy like Peppers. He played a great game on Sunday.

Comment From Chase

Will we see more of C. Mike? You have to love the way he runs. To me he makes 3 yards feel like you just got 13 yards.

Michael is the perfect change-up back, because his style is so different from Montgomery's or Rip's. I can't remember a back quite like him in this offense before. He reminds me of no one, but I don't mean that as a slight.

Comment From Guest

Hey Mike, do you think Dom Capers has anything special left in the bag to throw at Dak this Sunday?

I would imagine so.

Comment From Jester

Offensively this stands as a big Yards after the Catch game either by WRs gaining separation or AR dropping in some deep passes with them in full stride.

I thought defensively the Packers tackled very well against the Giants. They'll have to do so again. Prescott will throw his share of bubble screens, and the first guy has to make the play, because usually there's only one free guy on those plays with everyone else being blocked.

Comment From nik

Who do you have winning the Falcon/Seahawks game...and who would you rather see win (assuming we beat the Cowboys?)

I'm not going to be fussy about the opponent in the NFC title game, should the Packers get there. It's on the road regardless. I think the Falcons are going to beat the Seahawks.

Comment From Kurt

I have fallen in love with the way Micah Hyde plays the game. Another big task this week with Jason Witten, but I expect another big effort. I hope everyone realizes what we have in him!

I didn't realize until I saw another slow-mo replay of the potential TD pass to Shepard early in the game that Hyde actually might have gotten a hand in between his two arms to disrupt that ball. Amazing play. He's come up big for the Packers in this late-season surge, especially near the goal line.

Comment From Guest

My bro and I are headed to the game! Any rally going on?

Yes, there's a Packers Everywhere pep rally Saturday night down there. The info is on our website. I don't have the details in front of me.

Comment From Lee

One way to beat the Cowboys is the offense needs to get a 14 pts lead so the cowboys will start to throw more.

Taking away the Cowboys' running game would be ideal, but easier said than done. More realistically, I think the key is, if you fall behind, don't fall behind by more than one score, because that's when they just pound it with Zeke relentlessly.

Comment From Ray L

Rodgers only ran the ball across the line of scrimmage once last. Did the Giants spy him? Do you think that will change this week?

The Giants clearly had a rush-to-contain strategy. They were very smart and disciplined and didn't give Rodgers escape lanes. He bought a lot of time in the pocket and made his plays that way. That's what makes him so tough, because no plan is perfect.

Comment From Jon

C'mon Mike.. nik set you up for it! Just beat the Cowboys.

Blew it. Good call.

Comment From Jen

If the Pack win the SB, do you think Rodgers "run the table" comment will create the same buzz and legacy as Namath's guaranteed win?

At least as much if not more. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Comment From Lee

how's it been going through your first December/playoffs without vic in the office? miss him?

I don't miss his complaints about the weather, I can tell you that.

Comment From Bart

Daniels was one of the best re-signings the Pack have made in the last year!

The two most recent big contracts the Packers have handed out -- to Daniels and Bakhtiari -- couldn't have been money better spent. Both of those guys have played outstanding all year.

Comment From Jason.

How frustrated were you when we went with Montgomery on that 4th and 1 instead of Ripkowski?

Ripkowski had just been stuffed on 3rd & 1, so I understand not going right back to him. McCarthy said he had another run call he was thinking about. I wonder what it was.

Comment From Nelson

With as nice as Jerry World looks, how are the press boxes for you?

It's been pretty good from what I remember. The view is from the end zone, though, so it's not as nice for watching the game as Lambeau.

Comment From Chris

You forgot to include Aaron Ripkowski in your list of 2nd and 3rd year players.

Thank you. Knew I was forgetting another obvious one.

Comment From Rick, Chatham, ON

I would really like to see us run the ball more. With Aaron opening up the defenses, why can't we get anything going on the ground?

The Packers have scored 30-plus points in five straight games. Who cares how they do it at this point? This team has been all about doing whatever it takes. The lack of identity has become their identity, if that makes sense.

Comment From Mark C.

Mike, The special teams really stepped up on Sunday, I think it will take another superior performance to be successful on Sunday.

I thought that was the best special teams performance of the season by the Packers. A repeat of that would go a long way.

Comment From Joe

Why was only CM and Peppers the only two guys on the field chasing after the force fumble aren't all football players taught to play to the whistle?

Of course they are, but stuff happens. Give credit to Matthews for his persistence.

Comment From Krista

I really think Rodgers is the best player in the NFL. What are his chances of winning MVP over Brady and Ryan?

I think it's fairly slim after seeing that the AP voters made Matt Ryan the first-team All-Pro QB. He's probably going to win MVP as well.

Comment From BenC

These league sources that Ian Rappaport cites -- are they NFL headquarters people or people close to the Packers? I'd be surprised that anyone from the Packers was discussing Nelson's broken ribs...

A lot of times that info comes from the player's agent. I don't know that for a fact in this case, just saying generally.

Comment From Ben

From what you have seen, do you think Dak and Zeke have the mental fortitude to play their best this Sunday? Or will rookie jitters come into play (not that I'm counting on it, just curious)?

Those guys have been pretty unflappable all year. I don't think you can count on nerves giving you an edge or anything like that. This game is going to be a full four-quarter tussle. You have to be ready for that.

Comment From Joe

If you go back over the Cowboys schedule although they controlled time and possession. Most games were tight. Even in thGB game the fumble in the red zone could have changed the final outcome. If the Pack doesn't turn the ball over looks like a win to me this Sunday.

No way the Packers can win with four turnovers like the first Dallas game.

Comment From Andrew

The Packers win if...

Rodgers has another 120 passer rating and Zeke is held to 110 yards or less.

Comment From Seymor

I heard the Dallas secondary is no where near the same caliber as the Giants. Do you agree?

The Giants had three top-level cover corners, which not many teams have. When DRC went down, that changed their defense. That Irving guy for Dallas might be a better pass rusher than anyone the Giants have, though.

Comment From Robert

What's your gut feeling on Nelson playing this weekend?

I think it's a serious longshot. The fact that there's even a sliver of a chance tells me there's nothing long-term to be concerned about injury-wise, which is good news. The Packers have been sending too many players to hospitals lately.

Comment From Peter

The New York Post is reporting the Giants didn't exactly behave themselves on their flight home Sunday. What are flights with the Packers typically like?

Uneventful. Sorry, no real stories to report.

Comment From Dan

There seem to be fewer flags for defensive holding and PI in the postseason. Do the players adjust the way they play accordingly?

If they sense they're getting away with more early in a game, they'll try to take advantage, for sure.

Comment From Emily

Mike, speaking of sending guys to the hospital, how is Rollins feeling? Have you seen him around the facility?

I saw him in the building yesterday, but I have no idea on his status.

Comment From Packer Fanatic

Mike, do you do this column by yourself or does Wes help you filter through the questions?

It's all me.

Comment From Matt

On play 5 of WYMM, I think I was most impressed that Eli seemed to see the corner blitz coming before the snap. It was like he knew to go to OBJ on the hot read without even thinking. Nice that we still forced the incompletion there.

You're not going to fool a veteran like Manning very often. He's seen it all. The key is to never get too static with the calls and coverages. Don't give him a pattern to follow. I thought the mix-ups accomplished that.

Comment From Ron

Green jerseys this weekend?

I would imagine so. Dallas normally wears white at home.

Comment From Dakota

I believe the key to this win is getting our defense off the field after 3rd downs.

As I pointed out in Insider Inbox today, the Cowboys were 1-of-15 on third down in that December loss to the Giants. It's always the money down, every game.

Comment From Jake

It appears you are more worried about Dallas' run game than passing game!

Definitely, because running the ball wears out a defense more, controls TOP and limits 12's opportunities.

Comment From Fullback Lover

Do playoff game rematches favor one team over the other, ie, the victor or the vanquished from the previous meeting?

In this case, I don't think so because the game was so long ago, and the Packers are not really the same team from back then. The Cowboys didn't have Dez in that game, either.

Comment From Gary

The Cowboys haven't played a true, competitive game since Dec. 26 -- that's three weeks out from this Sunday. That could be a huge factor.

It may be a factor in the early stages, but I don't think it will be beyond that.

OK, my hour is about up. I'll take a few more. Tons of questions this week, thanks for all the participation. Sorry if I didn't get to yours.

Comment From Reggie

Watching the first td to Adams, its pretty easy to appreciate the pocket presence. But how about that throw, Mike?

Not a lot of QBs would have even tried it.

Comment From BenC

What is the definition of an illegal pick in the context of Wide Receiver routes? When Detroit scored on Golden Tate's TD, that looked like a pick play. The Packers ran something last week where the announcer used the word 'pick.'

I honestly don't know what the specific rules are, but they're tough to defend, whether run legally or illegally. Just ask Alabama.

Comment From Justin

Who is the best team in the AFC?

I'm not going out on a limb here, because it's obviously the Patriots. I've felt for several weeks that the Steelers are the team with the best chance to knock them off in the AFC, but that speedy Hill guy from the Chiefs could make for an interesting matchup, too.

Comment From Andrew

AFter 1.5 quarters of play things didn't look good. I think the adversity this team has overcome has provided the resiliency needed for a championship run.

The 2016 Packers of September through November don't overcome five straight punts to start the game in my opinion. I wrote last week about the toughness that has been forged over time. It's been fun to watch. That's a good last word for today. Gotta run. Take care everyone, Mike

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