"Ask Vic will publish on M-W-F during the football season.
Cassidy from Carlsbad, CA
The Packers at No. 1?
Why not? They're playing as well as anyone. I put them there to help stimulate analysis and conversation in "Ask Vic" during the bye week, but I probably wouldn't have put them at No. 1 if their next game wasn't against the 49ers. That game will define where the Packers belong. If they win, they're a true No. 1. If they lose, I'll drop them hard because that'll mean they will have lost two of their last three games. Also, the Seahawks are facing a daunting four-game stretch following their bye: at Eagles, Vikings, at Rams, at Panthers. It's that time of the season. Soon, the all-important power rankings won't be important at all. We'll know.
Derrick from Rockaway, NJ
Can we get a picture of the new rig (laptop) and your setup of where you enjoy writing the columns?
Mark from Wausau, WI
I know it's too early, but which of the AFC and NFC playoff contenders do you think are balanced and talented enough to win the Super Bowl?
I think being a hot team is better than being a balanced team, but being hot and balanced is the best. Go to the top of the power rankings: Packers, Seahawks, 49ers, Saints, Vikings. Those are the teams that can go the distance in the NFC. In the AFC, it's the Ravens and Patriots, but I can see several teams that could get hot at the right time and sweep through the AFC playoffs.
Braden from Milwaukee, WI
What's the hardest part of life?
Josh from Athens, GA
Vic, you scared me for a second. I once asked if you would invite your readers to your funeral; your answer was you'd let me know when you died, so I'm glad to know you didn't break your promise. With that said, it seems Kenny Clark is just as important as our outside pass rush. Whether against the run or pass, it seems his penetration really hides the lack of explosiveness and strength of our inside linebackers. Martinez makes plenty of tackles, but without Clark, he looks mediocre.
What you're describing is the job of a nose tackle. Joel Steed is the best I covered and he labored in near anonymity. Clark has talent beyond absorbing double teams and keeping the blockers off the inside linebackers. I can see the Packers moving him outside.
Joe from DeForest, WI
Maybe I'm spoiled from teams of the past, but to me this Packers team still doesn't pass the eye test. The offense is still a work in progress and to me the "bend but don't break" defensive philosophy means the team got lucky with a turnover. What happens when the luck runs out?
This is my bye-week evaluation of the Packers: The offense is top notch. It can beat you with the pass or the run. The defense is allowing too many yards; No. 28 in total defense raises major alarm bells in me. Yards are time and Aaron Rodgers needs to have the ball in his hands longer. I still believe the defense is destined to play at a higher level, but as it stands right now, the only thing it does well is rush the passer. In my opinion, ignoring the yards being allowed on defense by focusing on the points being denied is whistling past the graveyard.
Shawn from Kissimmee, FL
How do you see the NFC playoff picture folding out this year?
The Packers and Vikings will play for the NFC North title on Dec. 23; the winner will claim the No. 2 spot in the NFC playoffs. The Saints have a favorable closing schedule and will claim the No. 1 spot. The 49ers will be No. 3, the Eagles No. 4, the Packers-Vikings loser No. 5 and the Seahawks No. 6.
Wendell from Porto Alegre, Brazil
How do you compare Sean Payton and Mike McCarthy?
Payton has more influence and decision-making power in personnel matters than McCarthy did. That's the difference.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
This 2019 version of the Packers has new players, new plays, new coaches, new schedule, new luck (injuries, turnovers, etc.). How important are each of those categories to the 8-2 record?
When does new become old? When losing begins. I remember the feeling of newness when Bill Cowher replaced Chuck Noll. Cowher Power! Everybody was gaga, until the Steelers started losing home playoff games. "Chuck wouldn't have lost those games," fans and media began muttering. Here's why the Packers are winning: Rodgers is the quarterback of old. He's never played better.
Billy from Farmingdale, NY
Why is Fred Taylor not being seriously considered for the Hall of Fame? Additionally, why does It seem like the Jacksonville media only caters toward Boselli's candidacy (also deserving of that honor)? If neither of those two can get in, it begs the question: What does a Jaguars player have to do to be enshrined in Canton?
Let's do this again: Tony had a short career at a position defined by longevity and Fred has a lot of guys in front of him and they have better numbers than he does. In my mind, it's one or the other, not both. When I talk to my friends on the Hall of Fame selection committee, I try to get a feel for who they favor and I play to that guy. If I sense they're leaning toward Tony, I pitch the concept Tony was the best at his position for multiple years in his career. If I sense they favor Fred, I tell them he's the most talented running back I ever covered, and they know I covered Franco Harris. It's going to be a tough sell getting one of these guys in, but the Jaguars franchise needs representation in the Hall of Fame and that might be the best sales pitch of all.
Jon from Bloomfield, NJ
Vic, I'm not telling you anything new, but replay is being used more than ever before and all it appears to have done is make everybody more upset about the things that can't be reviewed. What will be the ultimate conclusion of this negative feedback loop, in your mind?
Football has always been a great teacher for me. Winning taught me restraint, losing taught me patience. Coaches such as Lombardi and Noll were the professors. They neither walked too tall nor bent in despair. The frustration I feel in today's game is teaching me to dismiss football's importance in my life. That might be a good thing, but it doesn't feel that way. I don't like this new game. I don't like replay review and I don't like the barrage of penalties that constantly nullify what I've just seen. It's become a terrible bait and switch that's toying with people's emotions. I won't permit it to toy with mine.
Tim from Normal, IL
Vic, QB Ken Anderson is up for the Hall of Fame via the seniors committee. Stat lovers point to his high completion percentage relative to his peers, being a pioneer of the West Coast offense and a Super Bowl appearance, yet, I don’t recall him ever achieving greatness and his one Super Bowl appearance was a loss to Joe Montana. Is that one loss the difference for him or is there just not enough there for him to get in?
Had Pete Johnson gained one more yard, Kenny would've beaten Montana and Kenny would already be in the Hall of Fame. He is the first "West Coast offense" quarterback and was as good as any quarterback in his era. He played in the same division with the Steelers and in the AFC when the AFC dominated the league. There is no quarterback in the time I covered the NFL for whom I have more regard for his talent and performance than I do for Ken. He absolutely should be in the Hall of Fame.
Curt from York, PA
Vic, I realize your power rankings are only semi-serious but I was surprised to see the Steelers only at 16 after beating the Rams. Is that because you think the Steelers are not for real or the Rams are not for real so beating them is no big deal?
It's because I think the Steelers are the 16th-best team in the NFL. It's illogical to expect to continue returning interceptions and fumble recoveries for touchdowns. The Steelers need to run the ball. That's what stands between them and their true identity.
Tim from Kennewick, WA
Now that we are a tad over halfway through the season, what appears to be the Packers' biggest needs? My take: 1) receiver, 2) inside linebacker, 3) defensive line.
1) Offensive tackle, 2) inside linebacker, 3) defensive end.
Brett from Jacksonville Beach, FL
Vic, what's your opinion on the college rankings the last two weeks?
The playoff system hasn't changed anything. The road to the national championship still runs through a subjective rankings that employs no system other than opinion. College football is a bad product.
John from Indianapolis, IN
You've taught us help is not on the way. That said, have you ever seen a team improve its run defense midseason, whether it be from coaching, scheming personnel or individual improvement in execution?
Why do I have the feeling you know the answer to this question and you're testing me. Yes, I saw the Colts go from a defense that allowed 375 yards rushing to the Jaguars late in the season to a defense that out-played Peyton Manning in the team's run to the Super Bowl title. What was the catalyst to that improvement? The return of safety Bob Sanders. Scheme? In the 1974 postseason, defensive line coach George Perles cocked Joe Greene at an angle over the guard and center in a defense Perles would dub the "Stunt 4-3." It turned a great defense into possibly the greatest defense of all time. Those examples are proof change can happen, but they are the exception, not the rule.
Maria from Jacksonville, FL
Who does Joe Burrow remind you of?
He's got some Bradshaw in him.
Roger from Auburn, CA
So how about the ending of that Browns/Steelers game? Do you think that ultimately happened because of a lack of leadership from the coaching staff? To his credit, Baker Mayfield blasted his teammate after the game.
I look forward to the rematch.