Ryan from Fredericton, New Brunswick

Vic, who would you rather win the Eagles-Saints game? I’m not convinced the Packers match up well against and can beat the Panthers, so an Eagles win can help in that respect. The Packers “beat” the Seahawks in Seattle last year, so the prospect of getting two rivalry teams in back-to-back weeks makes my mouth water. I think Green Bay would be best to avoid that Panther defense and Cam Newton’s abilities.

You make good points. The Panthers played the Seahawks off their feet in the season opener this year in a 12-7 loss to Seattle. Carolina is a much better team now. If I can’t have an NFC title game in Lambeau Field, then I think I’d like to see the Packers play in Seattle for the NFC title. Let’s take the drama to DEFCON 1.

Shannon from Rockford, IL

I’m confused why the Packers switched back to Crosby for kickoffs. Masthay had 19 kickoffs with 17 of them being touchbacks, whereas Crosby has had 42 kickoffs with only 13 being touchbacks. Am I confused?

Step outside and kick something. See how far it goes. You know what I mean? The touchback time of the year is gone, Shannon. The Packers and 49ers will almost certainly be playing in temperatures that will either be below zero or feel as though they’re below zero. Nothing goes far in those temperatures. This is the time for directional kicking, at which Crosby is a more accomplished kicker.

Dave from Fort Leavenworth, KS

Happy New Year, Vhic. Any resolutions?

Have more fun. That might not be possible, but I’ll try.

Alex from Milwaukee, WI

Who do you see as this year’s hot team coming into the playoffs? I think the Eagles and Panthers are looking pretty tough right now.

The Eagles and Panthers are hot teams. I think the 49ers are playing a true brand of playoff-type football. The Seahawks? I don’t know. The Saints are not hot, but one play and one game can change that. I think that’s exactly what’s happened to the Packers. That game-winning play in Chicago makes the Packers a hot team. In the AFC, are the Broncos a hot team or a spent team? That’s the big question I have about the Broncos. Did they spend it all on getting the No. 1 seed and getting Peyton Manning the record? I think the other five AFC teams are poised to get hot. Maybe that missed field goal and blown officiating call will make the Chargers hot. That kind of stuff happens.

Jim from Rancho Cucamonga, CA

At the beginning of the season, you thought it would be possible to go 11-5 in the NFC North and not make the playoffs. What would you have said if someone told you in September that 8-7-1 would win the division?

I would’ve said, “Who got hurt?” The answer would’ve been Aaron Rodgers and that would’ve explained it all. If Rodgers doesn’t get hurt, I don’t see the Packers finishing any worse than 12-4, and that means 11-5 might not have made it into the playoffs because the Saints are 11-5 and they’re the No. 6 seed in the NFC.

Dan from Rochester, NY

Vic, this comment is not to be misconstrued as chortling. I respect the 49ers as a talented and dangerous football team. I’d be a liar if I was to say they don’t make me nervous. That being said, an image flashed in my head today. It was an image of the 49ers bench, the players huddled in the freezing cold, snowflakes fluttering about and Colin Kaepernick wearing a long face. It’s late in the game and it’s been a grind for both teams. It has come down to the final seconds, once again. I can’t help but have a feeling about this one. I’m not a superstitious person, but there’s just too many elements of drama, too many unlikely events this season that have transpired, and this is the culmination of all of those dramatic ups and downs. I can’t dismiss it as just a feeling. This one has all the makings of an epic triumph over a team that has crushed our winsome spirit so many times as of recent. The cold, the adversity, the return of “The Man,” the menace from the West visiting for a playoff game on our hallowed ground. I can almost see the ghost of Lombardi looking on from the tunnel. It’s absolutely perfect.

That’s not chortling; that’s dreaming and dreaming is OK.

Nick from Morris, IL

Vic, I went to the game and all the Bears fans were blaming the refs. Bears fans are the worst. Regardless, the walk out of the stadium was a great one. You could hear the waves crashing on the shores of Lake Michigan, it was so quiet.

That’s chortling.


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