Mike from Pacific, MO
Do you think Rodgers will be playing against the Panthers?
It sure looks like that way. Pull your “12” jerseys out. He’s back home.
Dan from Tomah, WI
With all the hype in AR-12 coming back, I hope the rest of the team is ready for this. I think "focus" is the word of the week. Would you agree?
The return of Aaron Rodgers makes every player on the roster better – offense, defense, special teams and practice squad. When a player of his caliber steps back on the field, I don’t see how it doesn’t make you want to run through the walls of the Hutson Center in preparation for Sunday. Nothing will be handed to these Packers over the next three weeks. There’s serious work to be done, but also reason to believe.
Reid from Woodbury, MN
How's this for perspective...while the Packers have a lot of work ahead just to get to the playoffs, we get to watch the Packers play playoff football this week. Should they win, it's playoff football again next week. The Packers are playing against playoff-caliber teams right now, and only by winning Weeks 15-17 prove they deserve to play in January. Enjoy the playoff preseason!
It reminds you a lot of last season, where the Packers needed to best three playoff teams (Houston, Seattle and Minnesota) to punch their ticket to the postseason. This why you play the game. You can’t synthesize this emotion or energy in a lab somewhere. It’s drama in its purest form. The playoffs continue Sunday in Carolina.
David from Marana, AZ
Have you ever seen this many Packer players win player of the week, other than Rodgers? Did everyone really step it up after Rodgers went down?
I can’t recall a year with so many different players winning different awards. Dean Lowry was NFC Defensive Player of the Week, both running backs have won awards, Davante Adams and Aaron Jones up for Clutch Performer of the Week. Trevor Davis. I think these past two games, specifically, were good examples of multiple guys stepping up in all three phases.
Charlie from Bozeman, MT
What is more important this weekend: Stopping Carolina's rushing attack, or the Packers establishing their rushing attack?
Spencer from Rockford, IL
If we can find a way to outperform Carolina on the ground, how do you like the chances of winning?
Rodgers will draw the most attention and rightfully so, but the ground game will heavily factor into the outcome of this game. The Panthers are extremely multiple with Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey and Fozzy Whittaker in the backfield. Oh, and then there’s Cam Newton. The Packers have the tools to combat them, but have to be on their game to do it.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
How much is Carolina playing Julius Peppers? Is he an every-defensive-down player?
Peppers’ snaps are comparable to his last season with the Packers. He’s playing about 50 percent of Carolina’s defensive snaps, though he is playing more now after Charles Johnson’s suspension. Peppers started for the first time this season the past two weeks. Ron Rivera said during his conference call with Green Bay media Wednesday that Peppers has been receptive to the workload.
Maggie from Kenosha, WI
Can similarities be made between the team that was 4-1 with Rodgers before his injury and the team we'll see Sunday?
Change is constant in this league. Everything is week to week. Some of that has to do with injuries, but you’ll also see young players take on bigger roles as a season progresses. Just look at Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Jones had a big game in Dallas when Rodgers was still playing, but those two have become reliable playmakers in this offense over the past two months.
Jim from Duluth, MN
With the return of Rodgers, I would expect the running game to have more opportunities for success. Not so many eight-in-the-box on defense. Your thoughts?
One should build off the other. It almost reminds me of 2013 when Eddie Lacy broke out after Rodgers’ collarbone injury. When the quarterback returned, it was the beginning of a great partnership that helped carry the Packers to the NFC Championship Game a year later. Now, let’s see what Rodgers can do with a Williams-Jones backfield. This is why you invest in young running backs. While inexperienced at the start, their potential is endless.
Eric from Stramproy, Netherlands
“Mental preparation for the Inbox isn’t a sometime thing. It’s an all-the-time thing.” How about mental preparation for a QB with the weight of a franchise fan base on his shoulders?
As Mike McCarthy said Wednesday afternoon – Rodgers’ mental toughness is “probably his greatest asset.” For as much credit as Rodgers gets for his physical gifts, I still think he’s somewhat underrated for his approach to the game of football. He plays the game at another level and he thinks at another level. That’s why I contend he’s the most gifted player to ever play the position, and he has the work ethic and competitive drive to shape his talent.
Sean from Portland, ME
Random thought: Watching Trevor Davis make some very impressive moves to make unblocked defenders miss makes me think he could have the potential to be an impact slot receiver. Due to his speed, most of his opportunities as a receiver have been on the outside, but I'd love to see him try slot.
The Packers have worked Davis in the slot a little. He has game-changing speed. It’s not always easy for young receivers to get on the field during the regular season when you have a trio of receivers like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams ahead of you on the depth chart. Fortunately for the Packers, those three have been healthy this year. Davis will get his opportunities. They all do.
Arne from Gemen, Germany
With 12 being cleared to play and Hundley being able to make (some very good) plays when needed, do you see any chance that both QBs will play in a single game? For example, Rodgers sets up a second-and-2 at midfield in the third quarter while being one TD or FG in front and all of a sudden Hundley lines up and takes a deep shot to Adams because it seems like they found a good connection, or would this be too much of a risk?
When Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback, Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback. As I said a few weeks ago – if you play 75 offensive snaps, I want Rodgers on the field for 76. Hundley gained a lot of valuable experience over the past two months and will be a better quarterback for it. He drove the car this far. Now, let Rodgers take it from here.
Robert from Wayne, PA
Great to be excited about offense but how does the defense pick up its game by a factor of three or four against much better offenses than Tampa Bay and Cleveland?
The challenge is real for the Packers’ defense, especially if Davon House is out this week. Green Bay will need several of its young players – Josh Hawkins, Josh Jones and Jermaine Whitehead – to step up in their own way. It’s also up to Clay Matthews and the pass rush to keep steady pressure on these next three quarterbacks, who have hurt defenses this year when given enough time.
Peric from Woodbridge, VA
Two years in a row we are dealing with a depleted secondary. Just wondering if any other team in the league plays as much dime and nickel as the Pack? This forces our defensive backs to make a lot of tackles and in turn they take a beating.
It’s a passing league. The more receivers a team puts on the field, the more defensive backs you need to defend them. So yes. It’s very common and part of the reason more defensive backs are sliding into the box as hybrid linebackers.
Matt from Clarkston, MI
I'm curious what game plan the Panthers would prepare to face? The Hundley game plan that the team has been practicing for two months, or the Rodgers game plans from the start of the season?
You have to think the Panthers have known since Rodgers was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 20 that a Week 15 return was a possibility. I’m sure they also prepared for Hundley, but I’d imagine there won’t be much shuffling in Carolina this week. Nobody is sleeping on Aaron Rodgers. You can’t afford to do that at this level.
Jon from Columbia, MO
Justin from Danbury, CT, mentioned the NYT gives the Packers a 92 percent chance if they win out. I just wanted to note that FiveThirtyEight would give the Packers an 84 percent chance. Any loss by Seattle or Atlanta has a big effect on that, though.
The auto-generator on my fantasy website gave me a 6 percent chance at winning my game last month. And then Dak Prescott put up .25 fantasy points against Philadelphia. I won by 20. Leave the percentages to the pundits. The Packers care about victories.
Jace from Anchorage, AK
What do you think is the biggest problem for the Packers now even with Rodgers, aka G.O.A.T, back?
They’re on the final lap of the race. They’ve started their kick in hopes of catching up, but the Packers need one of these contending teams to gas out a little bit. The talent is on their side. Time is working against them.
Craig from Ely, MN
Comment rather than a question. This is a case of the NFL getting it right. The IR designation to return is made for this reason. As long as players are medically cleared, they shouldn't be kept from the field.
I agree. Everyone stands to benefit from the return designation. It sets a timeline for players and doesn’t force teams to have to choose between using one of their seven inactive spots on a player who might not be available for one or two months or placing them on season-ending injured reserve.
Alvino from Anaheim, CA
Happy Holidays Insiders! How do we as fans know that the eliminated teams put effort into winning games this late into the season? I’m only asking because we would like to see Tampa Bay win a couple of games. Thanks! Go Pack Go!
Every team wants to end the year on a high note. I don’t care if you’re 0-13 or 13-0. Nobody likes to lose. The Buccaneers had lofty goals for this year. I’m sure Dirk Koetter wants to show he’s the man to lead them. Jameis Winston and these players want something to hang their hats on this offseason. I see them playing until the bitter end.
Jeff from Kenosha, WI
What happened to Quinten Rollins? I heard he had a very good training camp and preseason and now he is nowhere to be found. Very disappointing when a second-round pick never sees the field.
He’s on injured reserve. Rollins tore his Achilles in October. He’s had some bad luck with the injury bug. He had the core-muscle issue last year and then to have this happen. I’m not sure what the timeline is for the 2015 draft pick.
Paul from Barnsley, UK
The long punt return on Sunday got me thinking. Do punters get special coaching on how to fall over while trying to make a tackle without managing to lay a hand on the ball carrier? It must be a difficult skill to master but I thought Cleveland’s punter put on an absolute master class. Surely deserving of special teams play of the week.
I can’t talk. I’d probably curl into a ball if a 190-pound individual with 4.4 speed was running directly at me. It’s more difficult to break down and make a tackle in the open field than the best special-teams players make it look.
Tom from Oconomowoc, WI
If the Packers win out and the Vikings lose out...who wins the division?
The Packers (10-6, 4-2 in the NFC North) would win the North over the Vikings (10-6, 3-3) based on the division record tiebreaker.
Tony from Sterling, IL
Just in case it gets obscured by other recent injury related news...any updates on Kevin King?
The surgery appears to have gone well based on King’s Twitter account. Dr. James Andrews is one of the best in the business. Now, the 6-3, 200-pound cornerback can look to put that shoulder injury behind him and concentrate on building on his rookie season.
Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN
Do you guys anticipate the 49ers coming to Lambeau in 2018 or 2019? I have a friend that is a 49ers fan and want to take him to Lambeau for a game. Looks like the last time they played in Green Bay was 2012 during the regular season from what I see.
The 49ers are slated to come to Lambeau Field next year as a part of the NFC West rotation.
David from Daphne, AL
Sunday versus the Panthers could be flexed to 3:15 or 3:25 p.m.?
No. It’s locked in stone at this point.
Josh from Black Earth, WI
Think Aaron Ripkowski gets a solid block on Julius Peppers to give Rodgers enough time to throw a game-winning pass?
Man, what a story that would be.
David from Philadelphia, PA
“It's going to take everybody.” Including the teams in front of the Packers in the playoff race to lose. Don't forget that.
The Packers can get by with a little help from their…rivals.
Bob from Colby, KS
So the playoffs are not factored in to determining the league MVP, right?
Correct. I’d also like to mention today is the final day you can vote for your favorite Packers players by using their name or Twitter handle with the #ProBowlVote hashtag.
Tom from New York, NY
Larry McCarren, Dwayne Johnson. Who is the true "Rock?"
Larry McCarren. Often imitated, never duplicated.
Brian from Monroe, CT
Mike, nice Chapman analogy. You continue to prove your merit.
He dropped that reference on Unscripted, too. I was impressed.
Dave from Saukville, WI
Is it too early to mention a couple quotes from “Outlaw Josey Wales”? These are two of my favorites: "Get ready little sister, hell is coming to breakfast" and "NOW SPIT!”
Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. Because if you lose your head and you give up, then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is. I’m glad I was able to finish my 30th birthday Inbox with a “Josey Wales” reference. It’s going to be a good day.
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