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Winning is big because Lions aren't losing

Has the league interfered too much with the game?


Chai from Wiesbaden, Germany

The blowouts are bad for the league, but has anyone noticed how tight the playoff picture looks in each division? It feels like the league will benefit greatly from these late-season games with playoff implications. Your thoughts?

That's why December is the best month of the season.

Heron from Lorena, Brazil

The Packers, as do the Eagles, run a hurry-up offense. How much does this help our defense in preparation for Sunday's game?

It helps to practice against what you're going to face. In effect, the Packers' first-team offense becomes the scout team offense for the defense. It's been that way since OTAs, and I think the speed of Packers practices aided the Packers' conditioning for the game in Miami. Yes, I think the Packers defense will benefit from that practice regimen this Sunday, but it always comes down to execution, as evidenced by the Packers defense's problems in New Orleans.

Ezra from Frederick, MD

I'm sure there will be a lot of people blaming the league for another blowout last night. While I agree there's a problem the league might have created with their rules changes, you can't always put it on them. The rules changes apply for the Panthers, too. The Panthers just can't score right now. The league can't do anything about that.

That's a logical approach. My opinion is the league might have interfered too much with the game. They might've interfered so much that the game wasn't allowed to evolve naturally. It appears to me as though the game is struggling to adapt to the radical changes that have been forced on it. I don't know that for sure, it's only a feeling I have, but what I do know is that these blowouts are bad for the game and they must be addressed.

Andrew from Iowa City, IA

Vic, what a weird world professional sports has created. We wish hard-working people would get fired if our favorite team isn't performing every week.

Winning has become more important than ever, and it's mostly because we've become less able to accept defeat. We've lost the simple perspective that somebody has to lose, and sometimes it has to be us. None of us are above losing.

John from Ash Grove, MO

Vic, Marc Trestman said the Bears are "in a good place right now" following the loss to Green Bay. Do you think he really believes that?

What do you want him to say, they're in a bad place? What can the coach of a proud franchise say that'll satisfy anybody after a 55-14 defeat? Is he supposed to apologize? Or is he supposed to fire himself?

Tony from Santa Ana, CA

Vic, what will the Packers have to do against the Eagles to come out with the win?

I think stop the run will be at the top of my list, again. Late in the season, the Packers begin facing teams that aren't at the top of the rush rankings and stopping the run might become less of an issue, but right now I believe it's No. 1.

David from Westminster, CA

Vic, how can the Packers run defense stop McCoy and Sproles. Will Clay play inside linebacker again to stop the run?

I suspect Clay Matthews' expanded role will continue this week. By keeping him in the center of the field, you forbid teams to run away from him; it involves him in more plays and that's a good thing. I would also say, however, that LeSean McCoy loves to bounce to the outside, and that means it becomes very important that Matthews not get trapped inside by the traffic. I liked the idea of having Matthews and Julius Peppers on the wings because it meant no matter which way the opponent ran, it was running into a star defender. We'll see what happens.

Stuart from Milwaukee, WI

I know there's a lot of football left, but I think this upcoming game is huge. It's against a playoff-caliber team (possibly with playoff implications), and we won't have the excuse that we were playing on the road in a tough environment. Probably not a must win, but pretty close, right?

You don't get strength-of-victory points in the postseason. If beating the Eagles is important because they're a playoff-caliber team, then it's not a must win, it's a feel-good win. In my mind, this game is important because the Packers are trailing the Lions by a game and should they fall two games behind, they'll need help to overcome the Lions.

Brett from Des Moines, IA

What does Clay's move to ILB do to opposing offensive coordinators we will face? Are they stressed or excited?

It forces them to adjust their protections because Matthews is a player that must be identified on every play. I think the greatest value in Matthews' move to the inside is the ability to disguise rushes and coverages.

Brian from Maple Grove, MN

Vic, everyone is tip-toeing around the topic of having Mathews play more inside linebacker, but it was apparent his impact at that position exposed the lack of talent at that position to date. If the goal is to stop the run, why in the world would the Packers not utilize Matthews' talents from sideline to sideline, instead of just using him on one-third of the field?

So inside linebacker has suddenly become the premier position on the defense, right? That's interesting. So why are inside linebackers paid so much less than outside linebackers?

Koigi from Lynchburg, VA

Vic, the Eagles seem to run an offense that has a lot of plays that run misdirection and crossing routes. How do you defense that kind of offense?

You defend against it with great execution because execution beats scheme and the Eagles' offense is scheme heavy.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

Both the Eagles and Packers offenses are playing well right now. Which defense do you think has the tougher assignment this Sunday?

I can't imagine any defense in the league facing a more difficult assignment than having to stop Aaron Rodgers.

Steve from Rochester, MN

Vic, you always say players, not plays, therefore, it perplexes me when you don't seem to endorse Clay Matthews' moving to ILB and that other teams will now plan (scheme) for it. Clay at ILB lets him showcase all of his talent and he shores up the middle of the defense, where the Packers need a playmaker.

It doesn't matter what scheme you use, success still depends on the players in that scheme because X's and O's don't move, only players do. I am not opposed to this move; I'm just not going to proclaim it a season-changer based on one performance against a team that's obviously struggling. What I will acknowledge is the potential for it to be season-changing. I saw this happen 40 years ago when Joe Greene was simply turned sideways and the "Stunt 4-3" was born. A scheme change won that year's Super Bowl, but it was still about the guy in the scheme. A lot teams adopted the "Stunt 4-3," but none of them were as effective in using it because they didn't have Joe Greene. Maybe the Matthews move is akin to turning Joe sideways. Wouldn't that be nice?

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