Matt from Lincoln City, OR
All final four teams in the playoffs are offensive-minded. So much for the old saying. "Defense wins championships," but you have to win in the playoffs first.
I get what you’re saying, but I don’t really buy into those narratives. If a defensive team wins a Super Bowl, does it mean a shift has occurred in the league or just the best team in the NFL that year had a really statistically solid defense? This year, the league’s elite quarterbacks have reigned supreme, but it could be back to the league’s top defenses battling again next year. Nothing ever stays the same in the NFL and that’s what makes it so captivating.
Paul from Middleton, WI
I believe there might be a silver lining regarding the beat up receiving corps. Ty can play that position as well; there are options including Trevor Davis. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.
This offense doesn’t lack for options. There are a lot of different directions the Packers can go depending on the availability of Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison. Jared Cook, Randall Cobb, Richard Rodgers and Jeff Janis have shown they can play on the big stage, and Mike McCarthy said this week that Davis, too, is ready to play if called upon. The benefit of Ty Montgomery is he can be effective motioning out of the backfield en route to catching 44 passes this year. The Packers will adapt and proceed with whoever is on the field.
Philipp from Newnan, GA
Aaron’s play is from a different planet on a regular basis. I've come to the conclusion, though, that the real magic happens when he rolls left. Can we have him roll left more often?
There are so many things Rodgers does better than anybody, but his ability to throw across his body with power and accuracy is astounding. When others try it, it becomes a turnover. When Rodgers does it, it’s a big play. Incredible.
Yariv from Queens, NY
Shortly after Aaron Rodgers was sacked, right before the now famous third-and-20 throw to Cook, right after he called timeout, he calmly looked over at his coach and smiled. That was the coolest thing I've ever seen.
I enjoyed that, too. On the surface, it’s such a big play in the game for the Cowboys. While Dallas is celebrating, Rodgers already is looking to the next play. You can’t shake him. The kid’s got alligator blood. Can’t get rid of him.
Erik from Saint Louis, MO
The key to Dallas was a fast start. The team did so, and in the end, got the job done. Do you see a fast start being an important factor again?
Getting off to a fast start is always important, but I think it goes to another level when you’re on the road in the playoffs. You saw what an 18-point lead can do to a crowd early in games. It also helps the defense pin its ears back a little. Those points were critical, especially after the Cowboys gained their footing. Atlanta is as balanced a team as you’ll find in the NFL. The Falcons can put up points for 60 minutes, so a fast start could help neutralize that early momentum and turn down the volume a few decibels in what’s sure to be a noisy Georgia Dome.
Nathan from Baltimore, MD
Vic likes to say magic-wand quarterbacks are dangerous in the playoffs, and we all know the Packers have one. Do we know if Matt Ryan has a magic wand too?
I guess you’ll find out Sunday, but Ryan has played at a high level all season long. He’s had only three games this season with a 90 or less passer rating. Coincidentally, the Falcons lost all three of those games.
Dean from Leavenworth, IN
Wes, I'm old-school and a believer in defense wins championships, and much of SB history confirms that. If not a great defense, it would seem you need at least an above-average defense to get it done. I'm not sure there are any great defenses left in the final four. The Packers and the Falcons rank in the bottom third in the league in D. Factoring injuries to the DBs, it would seem the Pack is at the bottom of the four. I need a reassuring shot of confidence, so please tell me how this year the old adage will be wrong.
The league-leading defense winning championships really has been common the past three years, but that’s not always the norm. The Colts won a Super Bowl in 2006 with the league’s 21st-ranked defense and worst run defense. The Saints’ defense was 25th in 2009, the Giants were 27th in 2011, and the Ravens were 17th in 2012. There’s no reason the Packers can’t win a championship with their defense, especially with how they’ve taken the ball away over the past 1½ months.
Jason from Central Valley, UT
Prorate or extrapolate statistics from a few games to an expected season total?
Nine games is a pretty large sample size, Jason. The reason I averaged it out was to better represent the level at which Jared Cook has played over the last two months.
Tobias from Frankfurt, Germany
Hey guys, can't wait for the game on Sunday! I hope it's going to be just as entertaining as the Cowboys game. Do you think we'll see more of Christine Michael this game?
I sure hope so. I’m losing about 5-6 minutes of my life each week deleting Christine Michael emails. For every Michael question I answer, I swear 20 don’t make the Inbox. He’s a talented young man in a talented backfield with Montgomery and Aaron Ripkowski.
Sharath from Ellicot City, MD
Is our defense ready to stop the Falcons’ offense?
Incredibly, this will be the sixth consecutive team the Packers have played for the second time this season. Historically, Dom Capers has done some of his best coaching against teams he’s seen before. The Falcons are pretty straightforward with Matt Ryan and Co. While Burnett’s availability is uncertain, the Packers are healthier at cornerback than they were during the first meeting with Atlanta. It also should help to have the full rotation of Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Nick Perry. This defense is battle-tested. It’s almost that time to see what the Packers have in store for Round 2 with the Falcons.
Rob from Hull, England
Including playoffs, the Packers’ record when conceding less than 30 points is 11-1. The Falcons’ record scoring 30 points or less is 1-5 (only win against the Broncos, led by Paxton Lynch). Do you think the coaches make players aware off statistics like these or see them as irrelevant?
That’s interesting. I don’t think the coaching staff goes crazy with handing out the dope sheet to players with every statistic generated this year, but the Packers pay attention to trends and pass usual information onto the players. Atlanta averaged 33 points per game this year, while the Packers have scored at least 30 points in each of the last six games. However you slice it, wins are determined by which teams score the most points. Neither of these teams has trouble putting points on the board.
Matt from Ironwood, MI
Any word on Morgan Burnett? I feel all the injury news is centered on Jordy and Davante, but the possibility of not having Burnett in the secondary is very concerning. He means as much to the defense as Aaron means to the offense.
Burnett is in the same boat as the receivers. The Packers will monitor his progress Saturday and Sunday, and then make the call on whether he can play. If he can’t, more will be asked of Micah Hyde and Kentrell Brice to fill his void. Burnett is one of the most versatile players on the team, let alone the defense. It’s just wait and see.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
One of the best-kept secrets of the season is how AR was able to come back from his hamstring and calf injuries so quickly. He did not recover from similar problems as rapidly in the 2014 season. Have you gotten any insights into the recovery process? Or, is the healing and therapy used a well-guarded secret?
All soft-muscle injuries are different. The easy answer is his hamstring and calf injuries weren’t as significant as 2014, which Rodgers and Mike McCarthy acknowledged. I don’t think there were any big secrets. He and the training staff were just smart with it. He didn’t suffer any big setbacks with the calf, which obviously aided recovery.
Scott from Lincoln City, OR
Wes, is Jordy battling the same illness Mason had? Besides sending him home, did the Packers take any extra precautions to prevent it from spreading to other teammates?
Yeah, just a bug that’s going around. I’m sure players and coaches are loading up on Vitamin C to stay healthy, but the team always sends guys home in an effort to minimize the spread. It sounds like Rodgers and Crosby should be good to go for Sunday and Nelson’s status won’t be affected by the illness.
Lory from Bowler, WI
Could you let Coach McCarthy know that if Aaron Rodgers sleeps with an onion slice on both feet with socks his health will be 80 percent better the next day? This was something my grandmother did and I do today! It’s better than any pharma drug money can buy!
They’ve done studies, you know? Eighty percent of the time, it works every time. I’ll pass that along, Lory.
Jake from Franklin, WI
Hi Insiders, just wondering, is a fake field goal possible when one makes a fair catch with no time remaining? Or does a legitimate field goal need to be attempted?
It’s a free kick, not a field goal, and you have to actually attempt it if you exercise the option.
Ethan from La Crosse, WI
I saw Jordy won Comeback Player of the Year. Congrats on an excellent season to him. I have a feeling this is one of the least-coveted awards; no one wants to have to miss extended playing time in order to have a chance to win an award. That's not to say it doesn't mean anything to those who win it, though.
I get what you’re saying. I’m sure if Nelson had his druthers, he wouldn’t have been eligible for the award. However, it speaks to his character and work ethic to put himself back in a position to have a season like he had in 2016. Nelson looked no worse for wear from the knee injury.
Jimmy from Portland, OR
We noticed a Packer player on the sidelines getting his helmet worked on. We wondered if the team brings extra helmets to away games?
That was Packers right guard T.J. Lang. Equipment manager Red Batty was working to fix his chin strap. But yeah, the equipment guys are ready for any scenario.
Carrie from San Jose, CA
If the Packers win the toss, do you receive or defer? I defer, but I realize it's a risky move given the strength of Atlanta's offense. Allowing Matt Ryan to start the game with a long, clock-burning TD drive would not be good.
Richard from Pelham, AL
Best move by MM was giving the nod to AR when Favre wanted to come back
Pappy from Echo Park, CA
Friday was National Cheese Lovers Day, so tell us, what is your favorite type of cheese?
I don’t like cheese. *ducks*
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
Everyone can speculate and analyze until they are blue in the face, but the game is going to kick off at 2:05 Sunday afternoon and something is going to happen. That is the beauty of sports. GO PACK GO!!!
Couldn’t have said it better, so I won’t. Enjoy the game, everyone.
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