"Ask Vic" is published M-W-F through the football season.
Adam from Wausau, WI
It seemed the Packers had some success running straight up the gut against Tampa, which eliminated the speed advantage of the linebackers and plays to our interior line strength. Do you see this being a solid strategy for the rematch?
All run-the-ball strategies begin with running between the tackles. If you can't run inside, you can't run. Linsley and Suh will be key figures.
Monty from Seattle, WA
You're predicting the first and possibly only major game in which Rodgers faces Brady is going to be an anti-climactic laugher?
Not a laugher, but not a nailbiter. I expect the Packers to get a lead and build on it. It's how they've been winning.
Samuel from Milwaukee, WI
An article after the Saints’ attempt to sign Jadeveon Clowney stated the team had $260 million in cap commitments for 2021. Did the Bucs just write the second number on the Saints' tombstone?
All in means all out when it's over. Perceptions change dramatically following a loss. All of a sudden, reality sets in and we begin to see the dangers we chose to ignore. Everything about the Packers right now is rosy, but what if they lose on Sunday? They'll be a team with a 38-year-old quarterback, that spent its first-round pick on a quarterback who hasn't played a down, with a left tackle the team just signed to an enormous contract and is facing an ACL comeback season, and is about to lose a big chunk of its roster in free agency. This is why it's so important for fans to guard their emotions and stay even. Emotionally speaking, never go all in. Just watch. It's all you can do.
Matt from Palm Beach Gardens, FL
With the Packers having played on Saturday and the Bucs on Sunday, does one extra day of rest mean anything at all?
Yes, it means an extra day to get rid of soreness and an extra day for coaches to game plan and prepare their team to play.
Oscar from Chicago, IL
Vic, this Tampa Bay team frightens me. Their defense is extremely stout against the run, yet, remarkably fast to the ball. In addition, teams that have beat another team by three scores or more are 23-8 when they meet again in the postseason. There's also the specter of COVID-19 lurking within the offensive line. Unless it's very snowy and/or cold on Sunday, I don't think the Packers can pull off the upset. What should the Packers do to overcome the Bucs?
Devise a good game plan and then execute it.
Deonte from Chicago, IL
My guess is the Packers fans in your inbox are either feigning optimism or preparing themselves for another championship letdown. Have to beat the best to be the best. Should be great games this weekend.
It saddens me to see people worry so much about a football game for which they are powerless to do anything but watch.
Chris from Bozeman, MT
Sometimes I wonder what the point to all of this is.
Surrender is good. You're doing the right thing. Just let it happen. What else can you do?
Casey from York, PA
Brady, Brees, Rivers and Big Ben: Who should come back next season and who should call it a career?
The first three have lost arm strength. I felt bad for Brees on Sunday. He couldn't throw the ball much more than 10 yards. Brady can check it down and throw deep, but he can't drive the ball or throw outside the numbers. On one sideline throw that was nearly undercut and intercepted, I could see the laces on the ball turn. Roethlisberger can still sling it. He still throws a great deep ball and can hit the honey hole, but his legs are gone and his offensive line needs to be rebuilt. Brees has reached the end of the line. The other three should give it strong consideration.
Alex from Urbandale, IA
Wowza, Aaron vs. Tommy in legacy padding years. Can our 12 still tilt it enough in the cold?
We'll find out.
Carroll from Lynchburg, VA
How do the Packers avoid the interceptions that plagued Drew Brees and the Saints?
Run the ball.
Evan from Green Bay, WI
Will the Packers be able to pressure Brady? He looked very comfortable against the Saints.
You've asked the right question. I would expect the answer to be yes. I think it must be yes for the Packers to win.
Trevor from Wausau, WI
Last year, the 49ers took it to the Packers twice. What is it about this NFC rematch that makes you feel the result with the Buccaneers will be different?
The Packers are the better team with the better quarterback and playing a team from Florida in the cold. If it's at all windy, Brady doesn't have the arm to do much more than check it down. Those are my opinions. I could prove to be wrong. If I am, I won't apologize or feel bad for misleading you because it's only a football game. This isn't "Ask Dr. Vic." I'm not a therapist, just a sports writer. If the Packers win, I'll be happy for you. If the Packers lose, my life will proceed without despair. I'm not emotionally invested as you are. I want to get that out there because the questions I'm getting are begging me to share their worry.
Gunars from Iowa
What are the main differences between this Sunday and Week 6?
This matters more. Their is no recovery from defeat. A loss means the season ends. This is the ultimate crunch time.
Nathan from Afton, MN
From an organization's perspective, paying a player largely with signing bonus money appears to minimize salary cap issues by keeping that cost within that one year. What about it from the player's perspective? Does he have incentive to get more via signing bonus vs. traditional salary?
I'm not sure I understand your representation of signing bonus. As it pertains to the salary cap, it's not kept within the year it's paid, it's divided evenly over the life of the contract. Players love signing bonus because it's guaranteed money. It helps the team create cap room in the current year. Salary is declared in full in the year it's paid; so is roster bonus. Each is often used to set a boundary to a contract. For example, Roethlisberger is due a $15 million roster bonus in March. It was put into the contract to force a decision on Roethlisberger's future: restructure or retire. Let's go back to signing bonus and salary and describe how one massages the other and can be used to create cap room, especially for an all-in team that wants to get the most out of its aging quarterback's career. The team signs a key player to a multi-year deal with a sizable signing bonus but a minimum-wage salary in year one of the contract. The combination keeps the cap hit down in that year. The following year, the player's salary spikes, but the team converts everything above minimum wage to signing bonus on an extension (probably including voidable years or a roster bonus that sets a boundary) and then pushes that money out. This is a common salary-to-signing-bonus conversion strategy. It's something the Packers can and might do to get the most out of Rodgers' career.
Eric from Minneapolis, MN
This offseason, the Packers will have to choose between losing impact players or pushing their salaries into the future. Would trading Davante Adams allow the team to improve its cap situation while also adding an early draft pick?
How would trading Adams help get the most out of Rodgers' career? It would be a more effective strategy to do a new contract with Adams, convert a big chunk of his $12.25 million salary in 2021 to signing bonus and push it out. It would save some cap room but, of course, if you're trying to create cap room, look no farther than Rodgers. The Packers could create big cap room by restructuring him.
Jared from Rigby, ID
Vic, one thing I read over and over about the Tampa Bay defense is how fast it is. What can teams do to counter the speed?
Run the ball.
Scott from Boston, MA
How long are you going to cry when Tom Brady beats the Packers?
Cry? Really? How long do you normally cry after a loss?
Ryan from Freedom, WI
Two minutes left in the game with no timeouts, trailing by four points, ball on your own 25. Brady or Rodgers?
In his prime, Brady. Now, Rodgers.
Reuben from Duluth, MN
Rodgers has a 1-3 record in the NFC championship game, losing to all three teams in the same regular season. He's led the offense to nine total TDs in those games, coupled with eight turnovers by himself. Why is this year going to be different?
I think I've explained my reason for picking the Packers, but you present a strong case against my logic. Rodgers knows what will be said of him if he fails in this attempt.
Jim from Maple Grove, MN
Vic, do you think the uncalled helmet-to-helmet hit to Rashard Higgins had anything to do with the fumble?
I'm sure it did, but Higgins was in the process of reaching the ball and that's when it gets dangerous. Any loose movement can be interpreted as the player losing control of the ball. If it's fourth and goal, it's worth the risk, but this would've resulted in a first down inside the one-yard line. I don't think it's too much to ask of coaches to teach their players to distinguish the difference and act accordingly.
Dalton from Medford, WI
If you're a Chiefs' fan, are you concerned about Mahomes' injury being nerve related rather than a concussion? A concussion might make Pat miss the AFC championship game, but nerve damage could have long-term consequences.
Last summer, I underwent my second neck fusion operation. Nerve damage caused weakness in my left hand that nearly caused me to end the column because I couldn't use my left hand to type. I've regained some strength, but I'll never get it all back; the condition was severe and persisted due to COVID. I don't know enough about Mahomes' situation to comment on it, but I know nerve damage usually heals quickly and fully when impingement is brief. I would be more concerned by a concussion that would cause him to miss one of the most important games of his football life.
Alison from Aurora, IL
It’s hard to believe it has been six years since that gut-wrenching game. Am I unique or have we all held onto that loss for far too long? I’m ready to move on now, Vic, and your prediction gives me hope.
Look at it this way, Alison: If the Packers lose on Sunday, new gut-wrenching will replace the old. Why begin ahead of time?