Here are my Week 13 power rankings:
1. Eagles – At Seattle this week.
2. Patriots – Cream of the AFC.
3. Falcons – Playing as well as any team.
4. Vikings – Showdown of hot teams in Atlanta.
5. Rams – Big win over Saints.
6. Saints – Big one against Carolina coming up.
7. Panthers – Newton is both the solution and the problem.
8. Steelers – Lost some shine against Packers.
9. Chargers – They might win the AFC West.
10. Lions – Disappointing performance on Thanksgiving.
11. Titans – They know how to win without doing much.
12. Jaguars – Quarterback remains a problem.
13. Seahawks – Can make a statement against Eagles.
14. Bills – Rally around Taylor.
15. Ravens – In the hunt.
16. Cardinals – Gabbert better than Bortles?
17. Raiders – They needed a good fight.
18. Cowboys – Turn out the lights.
19. Chiefs – Hard to believe they beat the Patriots.
20. Packers – Impressive in defeat.
21. Redskins – Ho hum.
22. Bengals – They'll be feisty against the Steelers.
23. Texans – December a time for looking ahead.
24. Jets – Should've beaten Panthers.
25. Bears – Playing for coach's future.
26. Bucs – Disappointing decline.
27. Dolphins – Bad and getting worse.
28. Broncos – Blow it up.
29. Colts – They always play hard.
30. 49ers – What's with Garropolo?
31. Giants – Counting the days.
32. Browns – Losing has become epoch.
Edward from Los Angeles, CA
Vic, between 1978 and 1983, the NFL lost Tarkenton, Bradshaw, Staubach, Griese and Stabler. They were then replaced by Montana, Elway, Marino and Kelly, who were eventually replaced by Brady, Roethlisberger, Rivers and Manning. The cycle perpetuates; the loss of today's superstars will make room for tomorrow's.
We saw Elway, Marino and Kelly coming; they were all first-round picks, as were Roethlisberger, Rivers and both Mannings (why have you left out Rodgers?). My point is I don't see an obvious group of first-round prospects. I see guys who'll have to be over-drafted. I see a lot of Pat Whites.
Adam from Wisconsin
During the "After Further Review" segment of the Packers pre-game radio show on Sunday, there was a discussion on whether the '60s Packers or the '70s Steelers were the better dynasty. All four thought the Packers were, but they wished you were there to share your perspective. So, I ask you, '60s Packers or '70s Steelers?
Since everybody else said it was the Packers, I would've said it was the Steelers. I would often do something like that when I felt a case needed to be made for the other point of view, as long as it was credible. I always saw that segment of the show as a debate. Seriously, those two decade teams are similar in nearly every way: iconic coach, signature play (Packers sweep, Steelers inside trap), great and underrated quarterback, powerful running game, suffocating defense and unforgettable moment (Ice Bowl, Immaculate Reception). There are two major differences, as I see it: Swann and Stallworth blow away Dowler and Dale, and the Packers played when the product had been diluted by the birth and rise of the AFL, whereas the Steelers' titles were won during the powerhouse post-merger years. That's what I would've said.
Dave from St. Peters, MO
Vic, which pieces finally came together for the Jags' breakout year? Or does their record deceive me?
The pieces that came together were a whole bunch of top 10 picks and hits in free agency. There were also plenty of high-round misses, such as Justin Blackmon and Luke Joeckel, and free agency misses, such as Julius Thomas, Davon House and Toby Gerhart, but when you keep picking in the top five and you have an empty cap, you're bound to collect enough pieces to become a playoff contender. It was just a matter of time. That's what's happened in Jacksonville. The Jags stayed bad enough long enough to get good. There's only one problem: They may not have collected the most important piece of all, quarterback, and now they'll be making a move to the back of the draft order, and that's not where you typically find "The Man." The Jags remind me of a favorite philosophy: It's OK to be 16-0 or an 0-16, just don't be 8-8 because 8-8 keeps staying 8-8. Good years are ahead for Jacksonville.
Ryan from Neenah, WI
I just finished reading your column and the "Insider Inbox." I was frustrated neither column addressed McCarthy's decision to attempt a 57-yard field goal at Heinz Field in November with a 7-point lead! To me, that was an inexcusable decision. That decision was the beginning of the end. I understand why "Insider Inbox" couldn't really address that one, but I was really hoping you would. Maybe no one asked until now. If that is the case, what was your reaction when they didn't send out the punt team?
I thought the Packers should've punted; I still do. I whispered to myself, "Punt it, Mike." So, why did one of the best game-management coaches in the game decide to attempt a field goal? One possible ingredient in McCarthy's decision might've been the direction Mason Crosby was kicking. He was kicking to the closed end of Heinz Field. It's the open end, where the wind swirls, that gives Heinz Field it's reputation for being a tough place to kick. I don't think McCarthy would've kicked had it been toward the open end. Maybe he decided to kick because he knew he woudn't have the closed-end advantage in the fourth quarter. To put the open end into perspective, if I was a coach whose team was playing in Heinz Field and I won the coin toss, I would not defer, I'd take the ball to start the game. That would give the second-half option to the opponent and they'd almost certainly opt to take the ball, which would allow me to defend the closed-end goal in the third quarter and drive toward the closed end in the fourth quarter.
Nathan from San Diego, CA
What impressed you most about Hundley on Sunday night?
It was his ability to deal with the rush. He obviously learned from his mistakes against the Ravens.
Tim from Lancaster, PA
The Bucs and Browns are winnable games for the Packers, and Rodgers would be eligible to return against the Panthers. Run the table? Rodgers' heroic return against the Bears? Will history repeat itself?
That would be wonderful. "If you can dream and not make dreams your master."
David from Washington, DC
I had always considered the wide receivers a strength of the Packers, but after I watched T.J. Watt cover Jordy Nelson on a key play, I'm re-thinking my thought.
As I recently wrote, I think wide receiver is a position the Packers need to address in the draft. I don't see a next generation waiting in the wings.
Dustin from Seymour, WI
The Packers' arrow is trending up, in my opinion. Do you think it's too late?
To make the playoffs? Probably. But it's never too late to get good. I wanna see a nucleus of young players emerge in December. That's my expectation and, if that happens, the Packers will end the season with their arrow pointing straight up.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, who are the leading MVP candidates?
Carson Wentz would be my pick.
Tom from Eau Claire, WI
The Giants benched a two-time Super Bowl winning QB? I haven’t had the opportunity to watch much Giants football this season, but are they making Eli the scapegoat? They must have many more problems.
To use one of my favorite Chuck Noll quotes, the Giants "have many problems and they are great." It's a young man's game, the Giants need to get young again and nothing says getting young like a change at quarterback. The football life cycle is reconstituting itself again in New York.
Paul from Indianapolis, IN
Vic, my father passed away a week ago from cancer. He was a big fan of yours and read you to the end. There were many times our conversations would consist of us repeating parts of your column and laughing or shaking our heads. I want to thank you for everything, especially your line about memories making us rich. I have lots and lots of memories of my dad and they include many Packers games. It is good to feel rich when you are down. Thank you.
You have just increased my wealth.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
Eli Manning being benched is pretty significant football news. Do you think this is a definite sign he is on his way out from New York? Do you think he has anything left in the tank? Which scenario do you think is more likely: Manning retires and does not play a game in 2018 or Manning is released and reunites with Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville as the Jaguars’ quarterback next season?
Young is good, old is bad. When you get young, you get better. When you get old, you get worse.