Bill from Madison, WI

Vic, regarding your assessment of improvement in the Packers run defense, you cited playing together better and Mathews playing inside, however, in the first half of the season, eliminating NFC North rivals whom they played in each half, the Packers played against the Nos. 1, 3, 8, 12, 14 rush offenses. In the second half, they played against the Nos. 9, 18, 24, 25, 31 rush offenses. Are the Packers really better or is it the quality of opponent faced? My guess is the latter.

I acknowledged that in my answer. Yes, the opponents in December have not been run-the-ball teams, so we won’t know to what degree the Packers run defense has improved until we see it perform against backs such as DeMarco Murray and Marshawn Lynch. We’ll know then.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

Vic, I want to remind Packers fans that if we beat the Lions and Seattle loses to the Rams, we will have the No. 1 seed and won’t have to go to Seattle.

Rams win in Seattle? That would truly be a head-stitched-to-the-carpet moment.

Lee from Marshfield, WI

Vic, as much as I love the Packers and Rodgers, he has not beaten a top five defense. He is getting crushed in the national media for not beating good teams. Will beating Detroit stop this? No. I think Aaron will not get the respect he has earned. I also feel we are a bit blind to the outside NFL. He will need to beat the Seahawks in Seattle and win the Super Bowl to stop this craziness. Am I overthinking this?

Yes, greatly.

Tom from Neenah, WI

Well, Vic, I see Peyton Manning has gone into his playoff swoon early.

Man, I sure missed on that one.

Dave from Des Moines, IA

While I agree with you about the Lions being more disciplined, I saw a lot of their old behaviors coming back in the Bears game. My work is in behavior modification and if there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that regression occurs when you are up against a wall. If we start to squeeze the life out of the Lions, they will go full Baby Suh mode.

I don’t like self-righteous indignation, especially when you might have to face the subject of your indignation twice in the next three weeks, and one of those could possibly be on the subject’s home field. I think this inbox needs to treat the Lions with the respect they deserve for the victory they scored in Week 3.

Shannon from Rockford, IL

What impact do you think Dominic Raiola’s one-game suspension will have on this week’s game?

I think it’ll focus the Lions more intensely on the task at hand. I expect them to come to Lambeau Field with an us-against-the-world attitude.

Ryan from Brooklyn, NY

Vic, (although not preferable) is it possible that going into Week 17 the Packers’ strength is their defense?

You bet it’s possible. I happened to be watching a pregame show last night and Brian Billick praised the Packers defense and all but called it a game-changer for the Packers.

Eric from Monroe, OH

Outside of the Packers’ amazing on-the-road run to the Super Bowl in 2010, the Packers haven’t fared well in the playoffs on the road or at home. How would you compare this season’s team to previous Packers teams playing at home and/or on the road?

I didn’t like the 2011 season’s playoff matchup with the Giants. The Packers were a one-trick pony that season and I felt the Giants matched up well against that trick. In 2012, the Packers ran into an ambush in San Francisco; it would’ve been difficult for any team to beat the 49ers on that night. Last season, the defense was just too depleted by injury to beat a 49ers team that came one play away from the Super Bowl. This year’s team is healthy and balanced. It still has its signature passing attack, but it has a power running attack that’s every bit as threatening to opposing defenses, and the Packers have a defense that’s playing at a near-elite level right now. In my mind, of the four Packers teams I’ve covered, this one has the best mix of ingredients to go all the way.

Adam from Wausau, WI

Is it possible the Packers played an extremely vanilla scheme throughout the regular season, knowing they can roll out the big guns for when it really matters?

That’s not it. They built on their scheme throughout the season because they built on their ability to execute it. Schemes don’t win; the execution of schemes win. I saw a lot of execution of scheme in Tampa.

Nick from Springfield, VA

The game against the Lions has the feeling of a defensive battle. Seems like each team will have a tough time getting over 24 points or so. Clay Matthews and the rest of the defense are playing great right now.

I, too, am expecting a defensive battle on Sunday, but I was expecting an offensive showdown in Week 3 and I was wrong then.

Janet from Oak Harbor, WA

Looks like the road to the Super Bowl is going through Seattle. Do we have an answer for their highly physical defense?

In my mind, you beat the Seahawks by doing what they do: Run the ball. Power defenses can’t handle having the ball run on them. It crushes their ego. The Packers have a power running game that can play the Seahawks’ game. Should the two teams play again, I would expect Eddie Lacy to be a player of critical importance to the Packers’ hope of victory.

Matt from Chicago, IL

Forget about Seattle, the Packers could very well end up facing the Lions again. If we have to play them a third time, I’d want it in Lambeau.

Go to the head of the class.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Vic, what’s different about the Week 17 Lions compared to the Week 3 Lions?

What the Lions did in Week 3 is now their identity. That’s the difference.

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