"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F during the football season.
Al from Wausau, WI
Does this Packers team look like a real playoff/Super Bowl caliber team to you? I want to think they can make a run but every game makes me more and more hesitant. They are not great at any one thing. Horrible on special teams, defense is mediocre and offense has yet to hit its stride. I am concerned there isn't a stride to be hit with the team we have? Talk me off the ledge.
The ledge, Al? Really? Yes, I think the Packers are a legit Super Bowl contender because Aaron Rodgers still tilts the field. If he gets hot in the postseason, they can go all the way. As for not having hit their stride on offense, what would you call their performance in Dallas, against the Raiders, in Kansas City? That's what the Packers offense can be when it gets hot, and that's what it's going to take to go all the way.
Wendell from Porto Alegre, Brazil
When asked about how you balance forming an identity and trying to win games, Matt LaFleur said: "That's exactly right. We are going to do whatever it takes to win. I'll leave that up to you guys." Maybe the identity LaFleur wants for the Packers is "whatever it takes."
A team's identity is formed by what it's done to be what it is. In the Packers' case, not much has changed; Rodgers is still the Packers' identity. They are what Rodgers is. What the Packers do in what's left of the season will either confirm that identity, or add to it.
Brooks from More, OK
Could Jacksonville trade Foles and pay part of his salary? It might make him more attractive to another team.
Baseball does it routinely, but the NFL doesn't want to go down that road. It has a bad taste to it. Here's a better idea: Find a team interested in trading for Foles. I'd give the Eagles a call and I'd take a seventh-round pick just to get Foles off the books, so to speak. It's not likely an interested team will be willing to assume the $20 million the Jaguars owe Foles, so, execute what's known as a "sign and trade." Do a new deal with Foles that would guarantee him a $10 million roster bonus the Jags would have to pay and an additional $10 million from the team trading for him. In effect, the Jaguars would be paying a portion of Foles' salary, but it wouldn't leave the bad taste baseball's similar deals do.
Mikey from Tallahassee, FL
In Wednesday's column, you mentioned Tampa may be able to win out. If they do, do we start hearing Byron Leftwich's name as a possible head coaching candidate?
Byron grew up in the shadow of RFK Stadium. He would help reconnect the Washington football team to its glory days.
Nick from Owego, NY
I like "rooting for stories." Any good December storylines I could be rooting for?
I don't think you'll be rooting for this one, but the Bears could be a major spoiler in the final three weeks of the season. They play at the Packers and at the Vikings and they could deliver a crippling blow to one of those teams with an upset win. The Bears are playing well right now and they'll be a tough out for the Packers on Dec. 15.
Elvis from Hoonah, AK
Despite their big numbers and immediate impact to our pass rush, was the money spent on the Smith Bros. worth it?
They're two of the best free-agent acquisitions of the last several years. The Packers wouldn't be where they are without them.
Luke from La Crosse, WI
Looking back at the previous Super Bowl winners shows a pattern of those teams possessing a top 10 defense (points per game allowed) or a top 10 offense (points per game scored). In most cases, they have both within the top 10. The Packers have neither thus far. Do you believe they can still make a deep postseason run?
"You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" The Packers certainly aren't a paper tiger. They're No. 22 in total offense and No. 28 in total defense. I, too, am amazed they could win nine games with numbers that dreadfully low. How have they done it? Well, they've made game-changing plays, the ball has bounced their way and the calls continue to favor the Packers. Against the Giants, the officials all but picked up the ball and marched it down the field. Team of destiny or team destined for disappointment? Soon, we'll have our answer. The uncertainty is what makes it fun.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Rivera leads his team with an erratic and sometimes good, sometimes bad quarterback to the Super Bowl. He has few weapons now and so they fire him. Vic, is there anywhere wolves don't live?
The wolves didn't do this, the owner did. Rivera was toast the moment the team was sold. I can't blame the new owner for wanting his guy. This isn't a firing, it's a re-fitting.
Andy from Iowa City, IA
Why have the Steelers been able to weather the loss of their quarterback so much better than the Packers did?
It's because they currently have a top five defense, and that wouldn't be possible had the Packers drafted T.J. Watt. He's the Steelers' MVP.
Andreas from Chicago, IL
Vic, how do you view Pete Carroll as a coach and/or leader of men?
He's outstanding in both categories. He and Tomlin are similar in style. They're always pushing, demanding and challenging their players to be better. They do it with encouragement, aggressive coaching decisions and a physical style of play. I didn't see that when Carroll was the Patriots' coach, but I see it now. I think coaching at USC changed him in a good way.
Leif from Frederic, WI
Is Duck Hodges “The Man?”
No, but I'm curious as to why he wasn't even a priority undrafted free agent. He had to wait to be signed as a tryout player. So, I asked a scout friend of mine what Hodges' weaknesses are. He throws a nice deep ball with a penetrating trajectory, he can move in the pocket and buy a little time with his legs, and he appears to be quick and decisive in his decision making. The scout said he saw him play live once and attended two of his pro day workouts. The scout said he graded Hodges as having above average arm strength and "shows very good competes and processing." At 6-1 he's the same height as Mayfield and three inches taller than Murray. So what's the deal? I think two things hurt him: the competition level at which he played in college, and he doesn't pass the eye test. He looks like a guy who makes duck calls.
John from Waupaca, WI
Announcer Tim Ryan was suspended after he said, "He’s really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin color with a dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see that thing. I mean you literally could not see when he was in and out of the mesh point.” Seems things have gotten to the point you can't mention skin color at all.
Apparently you can if you own a football team in Washington.
Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL
Myles Jack had the most success playing on the outside, where he could use his speed with Posluszny playing the middle. Assuming he is healthy, do you see the Jags moving Jack Ryan to the middle and Jack outside?
Everything in Jacksonville is on hold until it's decided by the owner how the team will move forward. We need to wait for that to happen before we even begin to ask questions.
"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F during the football season.
Josh from Madison, WI
Do you get the sense Monday night’s matchup is going to happen again this season? It had a prize fight feel to it.
I get the sense the Vikings are going to be the No. 6 seed and the Packers are going to be No. 3, which would mean the Vikings would first have to beat the Packers in the postseason to have any chance of meeting the Seahawks again.
Brett from Ohio
How do you think McCarthy would look in black and blue? A young quarterback in Allen, a veteran running back in McCaffrey.
An owner from Pittsburgh hiring a coach from Pittsburgh? Makes sense to me.
Alan from Nixon, Ontario
While watching a football intro the other night, a player pronounced the college he went to as Ar-kansas and not Ar-kan-saw. I'm assuming he did this to be humorous or maybe I've mispronounced the state name all along. Do you have any stories?
Jack Lambert once announced he was from Buzzard's Breath, Wyoming.
Joe from Bloomington, IN
If you were to make bets on NFL games for fun, how well do you think you'd do?
I do it for fun and I do pretty well. I'll pick some games I like, college and pro. I like Wisconsin and the points this week. Ohio State is in the playoffs; they don't have to win this game. All the motivation rests with Wisconsin; they can make a statement. I think Wisconsin can win this game.
Dave from Minneapolis, MN
What is your assessment of the Packers' 2019 draft picks thus far?
Rashan Gary has to come to life to make this a good draft for the Packers. Give it time. Let these young men learn their craft.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
What’s wrong with the Patriots’ offense?
Tom Brady made a lot of average receivers look good for a lot of years. Maybe he can't do that anymore, or maybe Bill Belichick has finally failed to patch a weakness.
Collin from LaCrosse, WI
Vic, you keep saying all you have to do is take the run away from Lamar, but he constantly shakes the spy. What are you supposed to do to a mobile quarterback that repeatedly avoids being tackled by the spy?
Someone will figure it out. Sean McDermott, come on down.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Did the Seahawks just show us the blueprint on how to beat the Vikings? Their use of an extra offensive lineman instead of a tight end was ingenious and brilliant! What is your perspective?
The Packers have already beaten the Vikings. The Packers know how to do it.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, which teams do you believe are peaking in December?
Houston and Tennessee in the AFC and Seattle and New Orleans in the NFC. Marcus Davenport is becoming an impact player. New blood late in the season can put a team over the top.
Jim from Huntertown, IN
Now that Minshew has been named the starter for the rest of the season, where do the Jaguars go from here with Foles? What happens now?
I doubt the Jaguars can trade him, so you pay him the $20 million he's guaranteed and prepare for the $22.125 million cap hit he'll be next year. If you cut him, he'll be a $33.875 million dead hit on your cap. Isn't free agency fun? The cap is your friend. Take care of the cap and it'll take care of you.
Here are the Week 14 "Ask Vic" all-important power rankings:
1. Ravens -- Eight straight.
2. Seahawks -- Hottest team in the NFC.
3. 49ers -- Next stop, New Orleans.
4. Saints -- Sights set on No. 1 seed.
5. Patriots -- Not as good as their record.
6. Packers -- Likely division champ.
7. Bills -- Can they take down the Ravens?
8. Chiefs -- Playing their best football.
9. Vikings -- Likely a wild card.
10. Texans -- Making their move.
11. Titans -- Fast-rising.
12. Rams -- Must beat Seattle.
13. Cowboys -- NFC East weakest division in the league.
14. Steelers -- No. 5 on defense.
15. Bears -- Too late.
16. Bucs -- They could win out.
17. Colts -- Next two games will determine fate.
18. Browns -- Another embarrassing chapter.
19. Panthers -- Demoralized.
20. Eagles -- Pederson's worst job.
21. Raiders -- They're off to see the Wizard.
22. Broncos -- Lock era has begun.
23. Chargers -- Sad ending.
24. Lions -- Might not win again.
25. Dolphins -- Deserving of respect.
26. Falcons -- Change on the horizon.
27. Jaguars -- Back to Minshew.
28. Cardinals -- Playing for next year's hype.
29. Washington -- Haskins showed something.
30. Jets -- Bell has given them nothing.
31. Giants -- Lack toughness.
32. Bengals -- Can they hang on to the top pick?
"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F during the football season.
Ben from Hilo, HI
Just win, baby?
That's right. The Packers took care of business in a somewhat ho-hum game. It was as we expected; a good team beat a bad team. There's no need to dwell on it. Packers fans should focus all of their attention on tonight's game. This is the big one.
Paul from Chicago, IL
Vic, what did you make of the Ravens/49ers matchup? It looked like it might be a Super Bowl preview to me.
It was an outstanding game between two elite opponents. It came down to a fourth-down play the 49ers failed to convert. The weather was a factor in the outcome, but I don't think it favored either team. The 49ers did a decent job of making Lamar Jackson be a passer but, in the final analysis, he was still able to beat them with his legs. I thought he was unimpressive as a passer, and opponents are going to study tape of this game very closely. What I took from this game is the Ravens run a wildcat offense with a passer at running back. To beat the Ravens you must take the run away from Jackson. I think it's just that simple.
Nathan from New York, NY
Do the Vikings have to beat Seattle to win the division?
Probably. If the Vikings win tonight, the Dec. 23 game in Minnesota will likely be for the NFC North title.
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL
Minshew came in. Will they go back? Can they? This is a mess. Long lives the string of QB errors, going back to Big Ben.
Be patient. It's obvious where this is headed.
Greg from Danbury, CT
What do you think of Daniel Jones? He's gotta fix those interceptions, but I'm not sure his arm is the problem. What do your eyes tell you?
He reminds me of Peyton Manning in Manning's rookie season.
William from Savannah, GA
Vic, I am glad management acted responsibly in Pittsburgh last year and wasn't tempted to replace Mike Tomlin. As I look at the Steelers' roster today and see the loss of talent at QB, LB, WR and RB, I am convinced Tomlin is one of those coaches who could take his and beat yours, or take yours and beat his.
He can certainly take his and beat Freddie's. Kitchens made a fool of himself this weekend by wearing that silly, fan t-shirt out in public. He's not a pro. He should be fired.
John from Philadelphia, PA
Can you give us a former player comparison for Aaron Jones? How would you describe his running style?
Warrick Dunn. Darting.
John from St. Augustine, FL
Could you give us some examples of how the 2011 CBA took power from the coaches and put it in the hands of the players?
It set a limit on padded practices and turned training camp into an extension of OTAs.
Bernie from Midlothian, VA
No Ray Nitschke in the top list of linebackers?
Nitschke is beloved. He was a great player but not a top 100 player. It's been written Phil Bengtson wanted to replace Nitschke with Dave Robinson but Lombardi was concerned there might be a negative reaction on the team to an African American middle linebacker.
Mary from North Bay, Ontario
Every time I watch the Saints, I am reminded of what a talent that got away from the Packers in Taysom Hill. It is a testament to lack of creativity when they couldn't see his potential. How could they miss on him even as a special teams guy?
Every team has misses. The Saints passed on Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 draft when Aaron Brooks was their quarterback. The Steelers passed on Dan Marino, who played just five miles away from Three Rivers Stadium, a month after Terry Bradshaw had elbow surgery that effectively ended his career. In Hill's case, it wasn't a miss. The Packers are the team that signed him, which means they're the team that identified his talent. The Packers' failure is in thinking Hill would clear waivers. It was a miscalculation.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, a reporter asked Jim Harbaugh if there was a talent, preparation or coaching gap between Ohio State and Michigan and Coach Harbaugh seemingly didn’t have the response in front of him. Was there a less contentious way for the reporter to ask the question or was the question fair?
I agree with Harbaugh, the question was insulting. Don't ask a question that requires a dissertation for an answer. The question was smug; it was more of an accusation than a question. The appropriate question was: "Coach, is there a talent gap?" He'll take it from there. If he refuses, you're not going anywhere with that line of questioning. Often I get the sense reporters ask all-encompassing questions to show off their toughness. There's only one reason to ask a question: to get an answer.
Bob from Kennesaw, GA
"Hey, it was a different time." What's changed? What is it about our present time that we feel less safe and less able to trust people?
For starters, there are 100 million more people living in America than there was when I hitched a ride home on May 4, 1970, which wasn't a day I felt safer and more able to trust people than I do today. When your country sends its military to shoot and kill you because you've exercised your right for peaceful protest, that's not a good time.
Brian from Columbia, MD
Ole Miss lost the vaunted Egg Bowl when its star receiver scored a TD with four seconds left in the game and celebrated by imitating a dog urinating. Really. It drew a flag that pushed back the PAT kick attempt that failed, leaving Ole Miss a point short of a tie.
Ole Miss began the season by accusing a PAC 12 officiating crew of cheating to aid Cal in a win over the Rebels at Ole Miss. I watched the game and I can say it was a shameful and embarrassing accusation by Ole Miss. Now, this. What a great season Ole Miss had. Is football worth the loss of an institution's dignity?
Jack from Chicago, IL
Do you really believe the game looks dirtier than ever, or is that a slight hyperbole? I wasn't around for it but the Jack Tatums and the image of Charles Martin slamming McMahon to the ground resonate in my mind. I am not saying the game isn't dirty, but at least they are punished for deliberately trying to hurt each other now.
I'm mostly referring to the sinister look that has become one of the game's signatures. The taunting, trash-talking, choreographed celebrations and tough-guy body language leave a bad taste in my mouth. As I've written, I had always regarded football as a noble endeavor, but I'm having difficulty finding noble behavior in today's game. I look at a player such as Sean Lee and wonder why we don't celebrate him. He does his job without all the bravado and I enjoy watching that type of player. Maybe we're the problem. Maybe the taunters and trash-talkers are just giving us what we want.
Nathan from New York, NY
Would you be in favor of removing the Lions from the Thanksgiving schedule?
Teams aren't lined up to host a game on Thanksgiving. I remember Dan Rooney telling me his season ticket holders would be furious if the Steelers were scheduled to host a game on Thanksgiving. It's a day for family.
Justin from Titonka, IA
Tony Dungy should call more games. Much better than Chatty.
Tony is outstanding. There was a play in the Saints-Falcons game in which Matt Ryan was sacked and it appeared Ryan's pass protection failed, but Tony immediately put the blame on Ryan for not getting the ball out quickly. Tony was able to read the formation, the route tree and the cut blocks up front and immediately know the play was designed for some sort of quick throw. That's what I seek in analysis. I don't want to know what play should've been called, I want to know why the play called worked or didn't work.
Steve from Lake Stevens, WA
Are the Bills legit and Josh Allen "The Man?"
Yes, to both. The Bills are poised to become the new power in the AFC East. All of a sudden, the AFC is looking pretty strong.
Scott from Hamlin, NY
Receivers are a dime a dozen, but for the last 5-7 years the Packers receivers haven't been able to create separation. How do the Packers fix this problem?
I don't agree with your assessment. The Packers' receivers are good enough for the team to make a postseason run. I think the Packers missed an opportunity to pick a wide receiver during the run on the position in this year's draft, but they can hit that position next year. You can't draft everybody and the draft never seems to run out of wide receivers.