Who do you think is the best team right now? Read Mike's chat

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


Hi everybody. Sorry I'm a couple of minutes late today. Let's get to it.

Comment From Scott

Are you expecting a defensive struggle?

I don't think so. Not saying it's going to be a shootout, but I just don't see Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, both coming off a week of rest, and neither team scoring 20 points or something like that.

Comment From Frank Moon

Hi Mike, with getting dinked and dunked for 500 yards two weeks ago, do you think the packers will play tighter to the line, especially with Mannings arm strength waning?

*I expect the Packers to be able to defend the cross/pick/rub games much better against Manning, having seen how the Chargers were so successful. Philip Rivers' 500-yard game might have been a good thing to happen, if you know what I mean.    *

Comment From Nathan 

The Broncos seem to have survived on turnovers in a lot of their games. If Aaron can avoid those as he normally does, can he put more pressure on Peyton to make plays?

*I would agree with that. If Rodgers protects the ball as he usually does, I think it gives the Packers an edge. That Denver defense has been the ball-hawking type all season, and winning the turnover battle will be a top priority. Not that it isn't normally, but for the reasons you mention, moreso in this game.           *

Comment From KK 

Mike, The Packers have certainly played well while missing important players like BJ, Lacy, Burnett, Adams and Perry. Hopefully all will be ready for Sunday. But if only one could be healthy for the Broncos game, could you explain who would you want it to be.

I think I'd have to say Adams, given the offense's inconsistency the last 3 games. That said, with Starks sitting out practice yesterday -- there's been no reason given -- perhaps my answer changes to Lacy, depending.

Comment From Linda P 

Mike, Of the next 2 games against the 2 undefeated teams, which one do you think presents the biggest challenge?

Hard to say because it's two QBs who play completely different games. I will say that for as much hype as there will be for Denver, the Carolina game is more important, no matter who wins or loses this week.

Comment From Paul 

Mike, do you think the Packers defense will be as aggressive as it was against SD or will they be more cautious thinking Manning has the tape of what Rivers did?

The key won't be aggression or lack thereof. It'll be disguise. Rivers seemed to know everything the Packers were doing and stayed one step ahead. Manning has been around even longer, and the Packers need to find a way to disguise their defensive looks, at least at times, Sunday night to keep Denver off-balance.

Comment From MAK Daddy 

Mike, how does a defense give up over 500 yards to the Chargers and get ranked #1 in the NFL? I know our average over the 6-weeks gets us there, but really? Expect short passes from Denver's Manning with an occasional deep attempt. Hopefully we can catch or knock down more than our DB's allow.

The Packers are No. 1 in points allowed, not yards allowed.

Comment From Johnny from Kohler 

As you are getting older in life and becoming more contemplative, what game day sights, sounds, smells, or traditions do you appreciate most, old man?

Wow. Did you know it was my birthday this month? The smell of a charcoal grill and the roar of the crowd never get old to me.

Comment From stych626 

One of the benefits of injuries is that it develops depth. Where will that depth be most valuable as the season goes along?

The Packers have proven they have the depth in the secondary, and the O-line has weathered an injury to a starter as well. Those are the areas the injuries haven't affected the Packers as much.

Comment From Frank K. 

Any word on how well Lacy is? Did the bye week allow him to recover sufficiently from his ankle issues?

Lacy did not talk to reporters after yesterday's practice. I expect we'll hear from him Wednesday or Thursday, and we'll see then.

Comment From Elliott 

Hi Mike, how do you expect the Broncos defense to gameplan for the Packers offense?

*Pressure Rodgers with 4, but stay in your rush lanes to do so. Rodgers' mobility is always a big asset, and Denver's pass rushers will have to guard against that.      *

Comment From Josh 

I live in Denver and chris harris was on the radio today saying the broncos were going to cage rush Rodgers, do you think he has been less inclined to throw from the pocket this year? It seems like he has been leaving a little earlier than usual?

*There's the term. Cage rush. Haven't heard it said like that before, but that's exactly how I expect Denver to approach this matchup.               *

Comment From Bill UpHereStill 

It may be way early to say this, but this looks like maybe Ted's best draft ever? None of the picks have been put on the IR shelf like in previous years, all seem to be contributing on some level and only Ringo is on the practice squad. Your thoughts?

It is too early, but it has a chance to be his best draft. Last year's (Ha Ha, Adams, R. Rodgers, Linsley with Abbrederis and Janis still TBA) will be awfully tough to beat. When your first two picks as GM are Aaron Rodgers and Nick Collins, though, that's always going to rank up there, too.

Comment From Eric 

Over the weekend, I saw one play where the receiver was sitting on the ground with the ball in his grasp, in contact with the defender who ripped the ball away. I was sure the call would be either completed catch and down by contact or incomplete pass. But no, it was ruled an interception. Then last night, I saw the ball carrier sitting on top of the defender and in his grasp for a full second. The ball carrier then got up and made a long run. I was sure it would be ruled forward progress stopped, ball carrier down. But no, it was a long running play and a big play in the game. I now don't know what is a tackle, what is an interception, or what is a catch. I think the NFL is achieving full consistency.

I have no comment, but I'll give you the floor for a few seconds.

Comment From Andy M 

What is the most important key to getting the offense back on track?

Receivers have to start winning one-on-one on the outside. Adams' return will help with that, and JJ's hamstring getting healthier will help, too. That's the best way to open up running lanes and pull double-teams off Cobb.

Comment From Lonny 

Did the bye week treat you well?

*Took a weekend off for family time, which is always a good thing. Thanks.        *

Comment From Adam 

Does the winner in the Packers vs Panthers game eventual have the #1 spot? Lotta football left.             

The winner of that game becomes the clear front-runner in the NFC, but yes, lotta football left.

Comment From Jake 

Did Vic come back with a glowing South Carolina tan?

I'll fine out tomorrow. I think he's in the air coming back as we speak.

Comment From Josh 

Did you know Denver is Honoring the team that won the super bowl in 97 on sunday night? Pat Bowlen is also going to make a rare appearance. That is going to bring a lot of emotion out! What emotions do you have when thinking about that game? I think it will provide even more juice to that matchup.

I covered that Super Bowl at my first sportswriting job, at the paper in Wausau, Wis. It was the thrill of a lifetime, and I've been lucky enough that my career hasn't been all downhill from there. I don't see that having any effect on this Sunday's game, though.

Comment From John 

I know it's not quite the forum, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoy the Coach McCarthy "unplugged" segments. It's great to get to know that guy in such candid and unguarded ways. Thanks for being part of the team that comes up with features like this. "What you might have missed" is also one of my favs, keep up the good work.

McCarthy Unplugged has been a great addition to our site this year. I enjoy listening to it every week, and thanks for watching the video.

Comment From Jeffrey 

Who has been the most underrated player on our defense this year?

I'd say Sam Shields and Mike Daniels. Both of those guys are playing pretty darn well without a whole lot of fanfare.

Comment From Max 

Mike, we know what type of football is Vic's favorite, but we don't know yours. What type of play puts a smile on your face?

The classic play-action pass works for me. I love seeing a QB really make the play fake work.

Comment From Adam  

In your opinion, do you think this team has what it takes to win the super bowl this year. I have been very impressed with the way they have been able to win the games they have so far this year.

They have what it takes. They had what it took last year, until the final four minutes out west. It all depends on health and how the team is playing in January. No way to predict that at this stage.

Comment From Mike 

Hi Mike- I just got here so not sure if the health of the team has been discussed. At what point are there too many holes in the ship and no more fingers left to plug them? I guess the Packers depth is being tested. Hope no more plugging will be needed.

*It'll be needed. With 10 reg. season games left, you can bet on that. The depth being tested early will be a good thing for this team.        *

Comment From Mtnman 

No question, just a comment. The Packers have given up only 101 points, while the Broncos have given up 102. I think it's worth noting that the Broncos defense has actually only given up 82 points because 20 points came off of Manning's Pick sixes.

Valid point. I saw the Vikings gave up a safety at the end of their game against the Lions the other day, too. Without that, Minnesota's points allowed would be only 100.

Comment From Greg 

Mike, are you originally from Wisconsin?

Yes, grew up in Platteville, the bustling town I visited this past weekend.

Comment From Justin 

What team has had the most key injuries and still won the Super Bowl?

I don't know if there's an official stat for that, but everyone remembers the 2010 Packers had a double-digit number of players on IR and patched it together. One of the Patriots' titles (or maybe more than one) was like that, too. The key is who gets hurt, and for the Packers, the two who can't are 12 and 52.

Comment From Josh 

What is the greatest weakness on the Broncos defense? I think we need to run right at there pass rushers to slow them down.

*A strong running game never hurts. The Broncos are in the top five in the league against the run, so it won't be easy.    *

Comment From Billy 

So you covered the '97 Super Bowl as a sportswriter from Wisconsin. Was that a heartbreaking game or were you in the zone?

I was working. It was a job with tough deadlines and all the rest. It would have been more fun to talk to victorious Packers players afterward, rather than dejected ones, but that didn't take away the thrill of the assignment.

Comment From Jeffrey 

Most people would bill this game as two of the best QBs to ever play, but I have a feeling this will be a game decided by the defenses.

There's a good chance it comes down to one of these great QBs needing to put together a clutch drive at the end. If so, nothing about the first 58 minutes of the game will matter much.

Comment From Ryan 

Even though Jordy is out for the year, do you know if he still attends all the meetings he would have if he was active or is he not involved much? And does he travel with the team?

Jordy is at the meetings but he hasn't been traveling with the team. He might at some point, though, I don't know.

Comment From Frank 

What is the magic number for the playoffs this year? Typically 10 will get it done.             

You get to 10 wins and then check the landscape. Often it's enough, but it's no guarantee.

Comment From GeorgeM 

Mike, haven't seen the M since my college days in the mid 70's (now near DC). Do the engineering students still whitewash it? I was one then.

As far as I know, yes.

Comment From Rich 

Do you think Adams return will really make the difference for the offense? They have looked good in the first quarter, but seem to backslide after that.

*I think it can, and so can a healthier Lacy, Cobb, JJ, etc. *

Comment From JB 

Theres something about the way Aaron shows up for big games against other great Quarterbacks, I predict his best game of the season.                      

Against this defense, his best game of the season may not be measured in stats or points. Keep that in mind.

Comment From Jon 

I am not worried about Lacy's production at this point in the season. Last year her got off to a slow start through the first seven games before picking it up in the back nine. He always seems to save his best for later in the season.

That has been his track record. Until further notice, I expect that to continue as well.

Comment From BrettGB 

Mike, what have you thought of the new extra point play so far?

Not much so far, but given the impact in some games already, I think it's really going to make things interesting in December and January outdoor games.

Comment From Ben 

Will you have supplemental oxygen with you in the press box?

Haven't been there since the Monday nighter in '07, so yeah, maybe I should consider that. I'm a lot older now, apparently.

Comment From Timothy 

Regarding Lacy, McCarthy has mentioned that he'd like to give Starks 50% of the workload. That indicates to me that Lacy might not have the monster back half of the season with regards to statistics. I expect the running game to improve, but anticipate Starks will contribute to that.

I do, too, but McCarthy is also known to ride a hot hand at RB, and once Lacy gets rolling, I think he'll be the guy.

Comment From Jeffrey 

How important has Nick Perry been this year to the Packers? Or does having Raji back in the middle help with the pass rush?

I've said many times that Perry has produced for this defense when healthy. It was a good sign he had the pads on out at practice yesterday. He can continue to be a factor if he's on the field.

Comment From Ben 

Is motioning the running back a common strategy for quarterbacks to determine whether the opposing defense is in zone or man?

*It's used often enough. Rivers used it almost religiously, which is why I mentioned earlier I think the Packers used the bye to figure out a way to disguise some of their looks.       *

Comment From Nathanael 

Mike, who do you think is the best team right now?

It's hard to pick anyone but the Patriots right now, but it's not never November yet, let alone December, so it really doesn't matter.

Comment From Daniel 

Who would win in a game of Madden between you and Vic? And what team (franchise and year) would you play as?

I don't think either one of us would have the faintest clue what to do, but I'd go with my Platteville roots and take the '85 Bears against Vic's Steelers from whichever of the four years he'd want.

Comment From Zach 

Mike, I really think the play of Daniels inside is the key to this game. When Manning can't step into his throws, the ball flutters or he lays down to avoid the big hit. That bull rush of Daniels' could lead to some huge plays for the defense.

*Can't disagree with that. Pressure in a QB's face can always have an impact, even if there's never a sack.           *

Comment From Justin 

Who is your favorite commentator to listen to?

The duo of Michaels and Collinsworth is tough to beat for me, but I also like Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon quite a bit. All-time? Madden, before he was actually famous for being Madden in the booth.

OK, folks, my hour is almost up. I'll take a couple more. Thanks for all the questions today.

Comment From Matt 

Have you ever had any evidence of players reading your work?

*I've seen links tweeted out from time to time, so I guess there's that, but if they don't read what I write, I'm not offended. They have more important things to do.        *

Comment From Lee 

Coach McCarthy seems to be platooning a # of linebackers around Clay and Peppers - Have you seen as much of this in the past with our team or other teams? It certainly seems to be effective

*You do it when you have the depth that can have that kind of impact. Perry coming back -- if he's indeed back this week -- will help that rotation with Neal, Elliott, etc.    *

Comment From Tom 

Royals or Mets?

*Hard to bet against the Mets' pitching, and I'm usually partial to the NL anyway.            *

Comment From Ben 

If you were to watch a Packers home game as a fan, where would you choose to sit? Close to the field or far up? Which side?

My wife's seats are pretty good, so I'd sit right next to her if she'd let me. GB side, fairly far up in the bowl. All right, I've got to sign off. Thanks again, and take care everybody. Talk to you next week. --Mike

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