Nathan from Baltimore, MD

It might be a bit premature for a “Path to the Playoffs” article yet, but it sure looks like that path runs through a wild-card berth now. A lot of the teams ahead of us have to play each other yet this season. Is 10 wins still the target?

Yup, and it’s time to root for all the first-place teams to stay in first and run away with their divisions.

Nicolas from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Do you think the NFL will implement a rule where teams can have a backup kicker dressed in street clothes and if the starting kicker gets injured, activate the backup kicker for the game?

No. Did you see the Chargers guy miss the kicking net on the sideline? That was a new one for me.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Last year Dak Prescott looked like a Pro Bowl QB, this year average. The loss of Elliott hurts but the Cowboys still have a lot of weapons. Sophomore slump?

Teams are always afraid of getting run over. With Zeke, Prescott faced defenses dedicated to containing the ground game. No young QB could ask for a better friend than the league’s best rushing attack. Morris might still be effective running the ball, but defenses aren’t afraid of him. It changes everything.

Joseph from East Moline, IL

The Lions kind of shot themselves in the foot with some mistakes on key plays, but I think the worst is not throwing the challenge flag. There is no doubt in my mind that was not a first down. Physical mistakes are bound to happen but mental mistakes are less forgivable.

If you’re talking about the play where Diggs dove and stretched the ball out, I thought it was pretty clear on the replay his knee never hit the ground. That first down wasn’t getting overturned. I had more trouble with going for it on fourth-and-8 with three minutes left and one timeout. Minnesota’s offense had made one big play since the first drive of the second half. Detroit’s defense was in control. I would have told my defense to try to get Stafford the ball back with a minute left and a fresh set of downs, not put the game on fourth-and-8 from my own 25.

Jeremy from Lethbridge, Canada

Is it wrong to be thankful for great rivalries? I like the idea of honing against the best. Seeing how the Vikings are playing without their best running back, and then considering the trade value of their surplus starting quarterbacks, it looks like they're going to be real competition for some years to come.

The Vikings’ longevity as a contender will depend on, aside from the obvious (health and QB play), how many young core defenders they’re able to retain and sign to second contracts when the time comes. Most likely, they’ll have to make some choices, and they’ll need to make the right ones.

Adilson from Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Hey Mike, first of all, from across the pond, hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. A couple of Inboxes ago you mentioned the NCAA had a perfect college football playoff format staring it in the face 20 years ago with the four BCS bowls, but that they, for whatever reason, decided to kill it using a bunch of excuses. Could you tell us what those reasons/excuses were and also, if you think they would be able to get away with that nowadays? Especially with everybody clamoring the way they are now for a decent playoff system.

Hope you enjoyed the holiday as well. The NCAA was, disingenuously in my opinion, reluctant to extend the season beyond the traditional bowls, citing additional travel, student schedules, etc. It was a bunch of hooey. With turning the four BCS bowls into quarterfinals, they would have needed only three more games – two semifinals and a championship. The season would have been extended for just four teams. The reality was they were content to let the bowl reps in the fancy jackets continue with traditions only they cared about because they were getting paid big bucks by the bowl organizations to maintain the status quo. Sports Illustrated had a great piece several years ago on the power of the bowl reps wearing their logo jackets. The NCAA also was concerned about devaluing the regular season with a playoff system, which was obviously misguided, and after all this time they still haven’t really gotten it right.

Tony from River Falls, WI

When does Ted Thompson and his crew start prepping for the next NFL draft?

It’s a never-ending process. The scouts and personnel executives are visiting campuses and attending college games throughout the fall season.

Zoe from Eau Claire, WI

Hey Mike, it would really brighten my day if you could answer how tall you are!

I’m 5-9! And that’s the first time anyone’s ever been so excited to find out!

Matt from Kula, HI

So Hundley seems like a nice earnest fellow who works hard and wants to be good. But I think everyone can agree that he hasn’t proven himself as a competent NFL QB yet. One of the identified problems is that he doesn’t step up into the pocket. Doing so seems to be something usually learned in QB school 101. What is the likely reason for this flaw in his game? What is the logical solution?

The only reason I can surmise is he hasn’t had to do it in order to be successful in the past. The solution is up to Hundley. McCarthy always says the fastest way to the end zone is through the middle of the field. You attack the middle of the field from the pocket.

Isaac from Nashville, TN

Why do people come here demanding you write like you're some toxic AM radio shouter, and then upbraid you when you refuse to do so? It's the team website, folks. The criticism will be subtle, and the outlook generally upbeat. If you want foaming at the mouth, it ain't hard to find.

Subtlety isn’t for everyone.

Mark from Naperville, IL

In the next CBA, do you think players would go back to more practice/hitting in the offseason if they were granted use of medical marijuana for pain management? Might help produce a better product for the NFL.

That’s a very astute and intriguing thought.

Matt from Hartford, WI

Happy Thanksgiving. My favorite Thanksgiving Packers moment is Ahman Green's halfback option touchdown pass to Donald Driver. Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving Packers moment?

I remember seeing Packers receiver Walter Stanley do a back flip in the end zone at the Pontiac Silverdome one year. I think it was on Thanksgiving, but I can’t be certain. I mentioned my favorite Thanksgiving football memory the other day on “Unscripted.” In 1980, I was eight years old watching the Bears-Lions game by myself on my grandmother’s little black-and-white TV. Chicago’s Dave Williams returned the overtime kickoff all the way for a TD, the first OT game in league history to end in that fashion. I didn’t really care about either team at the time, but it was one of the most exciting things I’d ever seen. I know it played a part in getting me hooked on football.

Jeff from Elk Mound, WI

Mike, you said the Vikings were 5-0 and got beat and Coach Zimmer said they were soft, how did that work out. It worked out well. This offseason they revamped their line and are playing great football with a backup QB that has been on multiple teams. I don't think positions should always be chastised, but I think he was being honest and he fixed it. The Packers have many problems to fix this offseason.

Absolutely on all counts. My point was that an insulting postgame comment made out of frustration, as honest as it may have been, did nothing to help fix the problem at the time, as the Vikings lost eight of their last 11 games. Just because a coach doesn’t talk like that publicly doesn’t mean he isn’t aware of what needs fixing.

Jeff from South Grafton, MA

I heard Charles Woodson say this week, “It’s a matchup-driven league.” It really is, “If we run this personnel and catch them in that personnel, we can get this guy matched up on that guy and that’s a win.” Nobody really lines up and plays anymore, do they?

Not as often as teams used to. Not even close. Woodson’s words are right on.

Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador

Insiders, NASCAR purports that each driver is driving basically the same car. The idea being the best drivers will win. It seems to me each NFL team is a NASCAR car. Each team has 300-pound linemen, 4.4-4.5 receivers, athletic linebackers, and gifted/dedicated coaches and staff. The difference is the quarterback – the driver. Yes, it's a team game, but our driver has to get better.

The quarterback who plays better rarely loses.

Mike from Madison, WI

Do you think the lack of the success/execution during Aaron's absence validates those who argue the organization has become complacent and has relied too much on No. 12, masking the poor play/coaching of the other facets of the team? I understand that you can't just “replace” the best QB in the league and that without him, other teams are given way more freedom in their game-planning, but is there any validity to the argument that “Aaron's prime is being spent overcompensating for an average team”?

I think those who buy into that narrative have no appreciation for the other Hall of Fame quarterbacks in this league and the trials their teams go through. I believe Rodgers is the best QB in the game, but I don’t believe he’s THAT much better than Drew Brees, who has gone to one Super Bowl and posted a sub-.500 record four of the last five seasons. I don’t believe he’s THAT much better than Ben Roethlisberger, who got to his first Super Bowl as a caretaker, two more as he hit his stride, and hasn’t been back since Rodgers while missing the playoffs twice. Is Rodgers THAT much better than Peyton Manning, who went to two Super Bowls in his prime and rode the best defense in the league to a third, in 18 seasons? Rodgers has been to one Super Bowl, should have gone to a second, and by all accounts he’s still got at least a handful of high-level years left. Not everyone can be the Patriots. If Rodgers has spent his prime overcompensating for an average team, then it’s the curse of most Hall of Fame QBs.

John from Apopka, FL

I think we as Packer fans were flying high at the beginning of the season and expected our team to go to the Super Bowl and win. Now the reality is they may not even make the playoffs. So we take it out on the coaches and players for letting us down. We forget that the players and coaches wanted the same thing but injuries and minor mistakes and bad luck have derailed that expectation. We vent it out on social media but they live it, take it home to their families, and sleep with frustration of failure to win. They work 24/7 to win and we often don't appreciate that fact. All I can do at this time is to apologize to the team for not understanding what they go through. They hurt as much as we do when they lose. They never quit so we should not quit on them.

Fans should never feel the need to apologize. They also should never feel their team is entitled to a certain level of success.


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