"Ask Vic" publishes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the football season.
Here's the "Ask Vic" Week 7 power rankings:
1. Rams -- Headed for showdown in New Orleans on 11-4.
2. Patriots -- Look who's back.
3. Chiefs -- Showed some grit.
4. Saints -- At Ravens and at Vikings next two weeks.
5. Ravens -- Dominant defense.
6. Chargers -- Something happening here.
7. Vikings -- At Jets not a soft touch anymore.
8. Steelers -- Big Ben big at crunch time.
9. Bengals -- Burfict is a distraction.
10. Bears -- Mack no factor in Miami.
11. Redskins -- Quality win vs. Panthers.
12. Panthers -- They leave a bad taste.
13. Dolphins -- Can knock off another NFC North visitor.
14. Lions -- Hydration is the key.
15. Seahawks -- I like them the most when I don't like them.
16. Packers -- They've earned the rest.
17. Eagles -- Can make a statement against Carolina.
18. Cowboys -- Can make a big move up with win at Redskins.
19. Jets -- Darnold says not so fast, Mahomes.
20. Falcons -- Giants this week and then another bye.
21. Titans -- See Jaguars.
22. Jaguars -- See Titans.
23. Texans -- Big one at Jaguars.
24. Bucs -- Panic time has begun.
25. Browns -- Meltdown vs. Chargers.
26. Broncos -- Vance Joseph on way out.
27. Bills -- Poor Nathan Peterman.
28. Colts -- Arrow pointing down.
29. 49ers -- No hype, no hope.
30. Giants -- Barkley is the only bright light.
31. Cardinals -- Everybody's job in jeopardy.
32. Raiders -- Extreme awfulness.
Nick from Fond du Lac, WI
Vic, is there some metric that tries to capture how exciting (or nerve wracking) a team is? Maybe games won/lost on the last play? If so, do you think the Packers are on top of this metric? Clearly I'm biased, but it feels like whether it's a good team or a bad team, they usually manage to make it interesting.
It's the way of the league. Up is down and down is up on a weekly basis. The Bucs were undefeated and fans were wearing beards to celebrate Fitzmagic; now the Bucs can't win, they're firing coaches and Fitzmagic is Fitzgone. A few weeks ago, the Patriots looked old in Detroit; now they've got new bounce in their step. Don't try to figure all of this out. It's this way because the league wants it this way. They've manipulated the rules to favor a wide-open offensive game. I honestly believe it's better to be trailing by one score late in the game than it is to be leading by one score. Why? Because the team that's trailing gets 25 percent more downs. That fourth-down extra play that belongs to the team trailing has become too much for hamstrung defenses to overcome. Coaches are figuring this out and the game will continue to change as strategies are re-shaped. For the loser now will be later to win. It's a new game for fans who want to be new.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
Which division is the best in football right now?
I thought it was going to be the NFC South, but the Falcons' fall has canceled that thought, for the time being. For now, I'll go with the AFC North. The Ravens are on fire, the Bengals will rebound from their loss to the Steelers, the Steelers are a tough out for anybody, and the Browns will grow with their young talent. I don't see a dog in the AFC North. I could say the same of the NFC North.
Luke from Bath, England
I'm happy the Packers got it done at crunch time, but for most of the game they looked soft. The offensive line couldn't stop the pass rush and the defensive line got beaten up front and gashed by the run. Is there any way to toughen up over the bye week? Or do they just need a change in attitude?
I think the defense will improve as the young talent in its secondary develops. I acknowledge concerns on the offensive line and that's why I believe it's so important for the Packers to run the ball, and I believe greater balance between run and pass is also a function of better defense. As Mike McCarthy gains confidence in his defense's ability to get off the field, he'll commit more play-calling to the running game. In the Packers' case, better defense will fix everything.
Mark from Pilot Mountain, NC
A comment on "ProFootballTalk" stated that without Aaron Rodgers the Packers would be a 4-12 team. What are the teams in the league that wouldn't be 4-12 without their starting quarterback?
I get the point, but I don't believe it's worthy of counterpoint. What I'll say is this: The way the Packers are winning games and what Rodgers is doing isn't unique. It's happening all over the league. Andy Dalton did it in Cincinnati on Sunday, but made the mistake of leaving a minute on the clock for Ben Roethlisberger to take his offense right down the field and score the game-winner with 10 seconds to play. Matt Ryan did it. Drew Brees is doing it. Jared Goff did it against the Vikings, if I remember correctly. Kirk Cousins did it against the Packers. Tom Brady always does it. The teams that aren't doing it are the teams with a problem.
Mark from Wausau, WI
Vic, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are both unbelievable quarterbacks. It seems like their supporting casts are comparable. What makes the Patriots more successful as far as getting to and winning Super Bowls?
Nobody gets it done in the postseason like Brady does. That's the difference.
Elizabeth from Sylvania, OH
I know you've said you think college football is a bad product, but how do you feel about the drama surrounding the importance of every single game for any possible national championship contender?
Yeah, the suspense must be unbearable for Alabama fans. Here's the TV overnights for last weekend's games: Georgia-LSU 3.7, Wisconsin-Michigan 3.6, Pitt-Notre Dame 2.1. Those TV ratings are laughable compared to the NFL, as is the Dodgers-Brewers 3.5 from Saturday. The NFL controls the audio, the NFL controls the video. If the NFL played every day of the week, college football and MLB would have to play on PBS.
Eric from Huson, WI
Being this is Brian Gutekunst's first full year as GM, do you think there’s any chance he was disappointed with the win on Monday? I know I was. When Rodgers went down last year, I did not want to see them win another game. This defense needs cheap talent and there’s only one place where that’s found. Much like the cost of investments, a little loss now can pay huge dividends down the road.
Everybody plays to win. On draft day, the losers are glad they lost, but only if they still have a job.
Matthew from Madison, WI
With eight minutes left, the Packers faced fourth-and-three from the four-yard line. My dad texted me, "Four down territory?" I said no. What did you think of the decision to go for it there instead of taking the three points?
It was a no-brainer. At that point, the 49ers had shut it down and were in protect-the-lead mode. If the Packers failed to convert, they'd be right back down there in a couple of minutes. McCarthy had the extra down and it was the difference in the game. Here's one for you: Should Kyle Shanahan have gone for it on fourth-and-one deep in his territory? I think the day is coming when that won't be an outrageous thought.
Mario from Montevideo, Uruguay
Vic, do you think the Packers won or the 49ers lost? At any rate, it's just win, baby, but it was an ugly win.
The Packers won and it wasn't ugly. Forget about style points. That was yesterday's game.
Simon from Santa Clara, CA
Vic, I get the sense you already know what the Packers are, but you're waiting for the schedule to show all us Packers fans what you already know.
I think the Packers have the look of a third-place finisher, but that could change. I look forward to what I don't know.
Eric from Lansing, MI
How did Sherman cause chaos in the 49ers secondary on Monday night?
Late in the game he changed the coverage assignments by assigning himself to Davante Adams. I'm going to assume he did it on his own -- I can't find evidence otherwise -- and I think it caused panic in the secondary. Players play and coaches coach. I think Sherman stepped outside his role.
Pete from Los Angeles, CA
Despite the excitement of the Niners game, I can't help but hope for losses to finish this year as I really don't see the talent needed for the next step, and I want them to reload with what could be a franchise-changing draft. Is my thinking mistaken?
Yes, until draft day.
Pete from Minneapolis, MN
Not to discount your football wisdom or your love for your life’s work or your talents as a writer (all of which keep us reading your column), but did a feeling of responsibility to help Packer nation achieve perspective contribute to your decision to resume your column?
I wanted to say thanks to my loyal readers, who helped me pay the bills, put my children through college and send me into retirement. So, I created this meager, low-cost website with the idea a few hundred readers might enjoy the ramblings of an old man who loves a young man's game. Without any promotion, I hit the publish button a little more than a year ago. Unique visitors are now north of 13,000 and for the third consecutive morning my day has begun at 5 a.m. This is not what I had in mind, but the coffee has never tasted better. Thanks, everybody.