"Ask Vic" will publish on Friday and then begin its Monday, Thursday offseason publishing schedule next week.
Here's the "Ask Vic" Week 17 power rankings:
1. Saints -- Got away with one.
2. Rams -- Are they playoff ready?
3. Ravens -- Nobody is playing better.
4. Seahawks -- They have a championship look.
5. Chargers -- Spotlight on Rivers.
6. Chiefs -- Fading.
7. Texans -- Costly loss in Philadelphia.
8. Titans -- Mariota might not be "The Man."
9. Bears -- Trubisky just OK.
10. Colts -- It's all about Luck.
11. Cowboys -- Could be peaking.
12. Eagles -- They might make it.
13. Patriots -- Not that good, but could win it all.
14. Vikings -- Finally, playing to their identity.
15. Browns -- Can make a statement in Baltimore.
16. Steelers -- A good team wasted.
17. Washington -- The little lights aren't twinkling.
18. Packers -- Happily moving down the draft order.
19. Broncos -- Change is in the air, again.
20. Panthers -- Newton's arm is the issue.
21. Giants -- Just draft, baby.
22. Dolphins -- Not what their record says they are.
23. Lions -- They got a lip fungus they ain't identified yet.
24. Bucs -- Sadly respectable.
25. Falcons -- Can't run, can't stop the run.
26. Bengals -- Not a good quality item.
27. 49ers -- It's best just to let them finish.
28. Bills -- Frozen from the waist down.
29. Jaguars -- Fell down a well, eyes went crossed.
30. Jets -- Members of the jelly of the month club.
31. Raiders -- Need a crunch enhancer.
32. Cardinals -- Get the hammer, Russ.
Ryan from Greenville, SC
Who are or were your favorite athletes to watch? Mine are Michael Jordan, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, in that order.
Johnny Unitas, Willie Mays, Bobby Layne and Roberto Clemente immediately come to mind.
Eric from Keene, NH
Mike McCarthy to the desert? I could root for the Cardinals, especially if they went back to the 1960s uniforms.
I would advise Coach McCarthy to wait for another job. I don't think the Cardinals have the quarterback to compete in the tough NFC West before the next coach's seat gets hot.
Steve from Minocqua, WI
Vic, why does the NFL make certain rules a point of emphasis for the officiating crews? Such a point of emphasis is the reason the Vikings got the chance to tie the Packers long ago, and ultimately created the difference in the current playoff standings. This past week, the rule du juor was pass interference. Wouldn’t consistent officiating simply be better?
At least we had an offseason to digest the new emphasis on roughing the passer. None of us liked it but we knew it was coming. The Week 16 witch hunt on pass interference had huge impact on the playoffs and homefield advantage races. The PI calls on Joe Haden were insane. The first one was on a fourth-down desperation heave that put the ball at the 1-yard line. There was no contact I could see and the ball sailed far over the receiver's head. I'm not blaming the officials, I'm blaming the people in the league office who are directing the officials. What's the problem? There aren't enough points being scored? The NFL is the best in pro sports at marketing and presentation, but they're doing a poor job of managing their game. It's become soft and cheesy.
Marty from Grafton, WI
Vic, in "Insider Inbox," their take is the Packers are better off winning the rest of the season to bring momentum into next season. Do you feel there is any validity to that?
Before next season begins, the Packers will have a new coach, a new philosophy, new schemes, new ways, a greatly changed roster, new challenges and an all-new feeling. When training camp begins next summer, no one will be thinking about how the 2018 season ended. All of the thoughts will be forward.
Anthony from Milwaukee, WI
I sense you have angst the Packers will be picking from the middle of the pack in the draft. What’s your take that the Packers will also have almost $40 million in cap to spend, but will also have to decide what to do with Matthews and Cobb.
The Packers have the cap space to make a big splash in free agency. Should they? Let's think on that question over the next couple of months. As far as Matthews and Cobb, I think it's time to move on.
Leo from Dallas, TX
Besides the Patriots game, the Steelers seemed to lose or tie every other close game this season. If they miss the playoffs, do you think Le'eVon Bell might have lifted them over in one of those games? Or do you think this year was for the defense to regroup and next year the extra cap space will put them in the AFC top two?
Bell's absence wasn't the problem, but the $14.5 million they had to commit to him on their cap was a big problem. The Steelers made a bad decision in franchising Bell, and it cost them on defense. They could've spent the Bell money on the defensive side of the ball and I think it almost surely would've made a difference. The tie and four of their losses are the result of the defense not being able to protect a lead late in the game. Defense was the problem when last season ended and it still is the problem. AFC top two next season? I don't see that happening. I think drafting at the bottom of the order has caught up to the Steelers and they've got some repair work to do. I see them taking a step back for a year or two. In their defense, I think they're accumulating young talent for the future. Watt, Smith-Schuster, Hargrave, Conner, Samuels, Okorafor and several other young players have a good look to them. Ultimately, it might be Mason Rudolph, the rookie quarterback for whom the Steelers traded up to draft, who'll decide when the Steelers re-emerge. Roethlisberger has enjoyed one of his best seasons but, at 36, he's nearing the end of a great career.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
Vic, where do you stand on playing to win meaningless games that would drop the Packers in the draft order?
Play reserves and play to win. That's my position.
Gladdys from Rolling Meadows, IL
Vic, did you get a chainsaw for Christmas?
No, I got a fashionable coat and scarf. "Now you can wear something that doesn't have a logo on it," I was told.
Jim from Stevens Point, WI
How does the number of penalties and yardage compare with past years?
The yardage is consistent with recent years; this isn't something new. So, I went back a decade, to the 2008 season, to see how then compares to now. The increase is dramatic; it's about 7,000 yards, a 25 percent increase. It's the player safety movement that's caused the penalty explosion, and I think reasonable fans agree the game needs to become safer to play. Be that as it may, it's not the total number of penalties that's troubling me as much as it is the number of game-changing, pass-interference penalties. A 50-yard penalty on an overthrown pass? If the league is going to rule so sensitively against pass interference, I think the league should adopt the 15-yard rule for pass interference violations. The Saints did nothing on that play to deserve having the ball placed on the 1-yard line. They were handed a touchdown on a play in which their quarterback was chased out of the pocket and was, in effect, trying to throw the ball away.