"Ask Vic" will publish on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the football season.
Here's the "Ask Vic" Week 13 power rankings:
1. Saints -- Stretch drive begins in Dallas.
2. Rams -- Are they as good as their record?
3. Chiefs -- Free win in Oakland.
4. Texans -- Hottest team in the AFC.
5. Chargers -- Rivers on fire.
6. Vikings -- Might've found their mojo vs. Packers.
7. Patriots -- Nothing special.
8. Bears -- Defense leading the way.
9. Steelers -- Sloppy.
10. Seahawks -- Wilson gets it done at crunch time.
11. Panthers -- Defense not as billed.
12. Cowboys -- Can jump up by beating Saints.
13. Colts -- Reich candidate for coach of the year.
14. Washington -- Fading.
15. Ravens -- Alive in the playoff race.
16. Titans -- No need to remember them.
17. Eagles -- Still in the hunt.
18. Broncos -- Should send Steelers a thank you card.
19. Lions -- Rams game will define them.
20. Packers -- Might be playing for coach's job.
21. Browns -- Can finish strong.
22. Falcons -- Do they have anything left?
23. Bengals -- All is lost.
24. Giants -- Respectable, but nothing more.
25. Dolphins -- Non-descript team in non-descript season.
26. Bills -- Allen settling in.
27. Jets -- Darnold missing valuable time.
28. Bucs -- League's No. 1 offense.
29. Jaguars -- Change has begun.
30. 49ers -- Next loss, in Seattle.
31. Raiders -- Big rivalry game against Chiefs!
32. Cardinals -- San Diego just scored again.
Jeff from Alexandria, VA
Vic, is there a fan base you think exemplifies fandom as you’d like to see it evinced?
Every fan base is unique in at least one way. I believe the Packers' fan base is unique in its winsomeness. It has a wholesome, innocent quality I hate to see soiled by the fire-the-coach venom that is currently defining Packers fans. The Steelers fan base has a wonderful resilience I believe is born of 40 years of frustration for being one of pro football's losingest franchises. Steelers fans know how to lose and move on. They mimic their team's reputation for toughness. Jaguars fans are unique in their transformation from college football fans to pro football fans. When the franchise began in 1995, Jaguars fans knew little about the game of professional football. They measured the Jaguars against what Steve Spurrier was doing at Florida and, to that end, Spurrier's failure as Redskins coach was a turning point in the Jaguars fan base's development. All of a sudden, there was an appreciation for what a different and more demanding game pro football was. In the franchise's third decade, Jaguars fans are as knowledgeable about the inner workings of the NFL game as any fan base in the league, and I'm proud of that fact. Which fan base is the best? The Packers and Steelers are tied for the distinction, and Jacksonville has become a pro football town, which says everything about the growing strength of the Jaguars fan base.
Nate from Pueblo, CO
You’ve been spot on this season, Vic. I’d even say these last 5-6 weeks have been your best since I’ve started following you. What’s your take on playing developing players more once the Packers are mathematically eliminated?
I'm all for it, but that doesn't mean bench Aaron Rodgers and give up trying to win. The Packers are developing young depth, and I think the final month of the season can help the Packers evaluate their young talent, how it might apply to next season and the moves the team should make to upgrade itself during the offseason. It's a young man's game. Play the kids.
Larry from Antioch, IL
Vic, there was a great article on NFL.com that stated McCarthy needed to refresh his style because he hadn't changed anything in years. I completely agree. He seems to be easy for defensive coordinators to figure out. No shifting, no motion, just the same worn out formations and plays. I agree with you, he is a great leader of men. Why can't he let his offensive guy (Philbin) and Aaron call the plays ? I think that would be a winning combination.
NFL.com and sites that publish those kinds of tired stories are playing you for a chump. They want your click and they know how to get it: Write a story with which you'll agree. That approach especially plays well with a fan base the size of the Packers'. Mike McCarthy has been vigilant about updating his program year to year. He's usually done it with staff changes that add new ideas to the existing scheme. Mike Pettine is a perfect example. The Packers still play a 3-4 defense, but they do it differently than they did under Dom Capers. Ron Zook effected change on special teams. Major change? How about their training regimen, which McCarthy completely revamped a few years ago to address the crush of injuries the Packers were experiencing. Do you remember the praise Peter King heaped on McCarthy for his willingness to be new? Offense is McCarthy's personal discipline, and he runs the Packers offense with this mantra: "Less volume, more creativity." If you're looking for an area of the Packers that might've gotten stale, it's personnel. Brian Gutekunst is giving the Packers a new way of approaching the building of a roster, and I believe it's already yielding dividends. The Packers don't need new plays, they need new players.
Marc from Hartford, VT
Vic , as we watch the rebuild and hope good things will happen, we take solitude knowing Christmas Vacation is on tonight on AMC.
Are you serious, Clark?
Dustin from Orlando, FL
The Jaguars fired their offensive coordinator and benched their starting QB. This seems like a contradiction to me. If the QB is that bad, how can the offensive coordinator succeed? If it’s the coordinator's fault, shouldn’t the team see if the QB responds to a new coordinator? I personally think, given Bortles' lack of talent and the massive number of injuries on offense, Hackett didn’t have anything to work with. What is your take on the situation?
The wolves must be fed. Shad Khan just threw them some bloody meat. The wolves stop howling to eat.
Simon from Santa Clara, CA
If McCarthy is guilty of anything, it's relying too much on Aaron Rodgers to be outstanding. The Packers only win when Rodgers plays great. Can McCarthy change tactics as our roster supports it? I hope we get to find out.
That's why the $64,000 question must be answered. The answer will determine to what degree Rodgers' role will change and what the Packers need to do to accommodate that change. He might not be the same guy, but that doesn't mean he can't be the same effective quarterback he has been.
Joe from Bloomington, IN
What talent is missing from the offense?
I like the young receivers but, because they're young and they've yet to fully develop their craft, they represent the worst cast of receivers with which Rodgers has had to work since before the team began its playoff streak in 2009. The wide receiver corps remains a work in progress. I think tight end is also a problem. The Packers need a tight end who can block and catch. All of these tight ends that specialize in one thing not only tip the play according to personnel, they've cost the Packers a fullback on their roster, and I think McCarthy's offense functions best with a fullback. The Packers need a block-and-catch tight end and a John Kuhn-like fullback. Up front, the Packers need depth.
Matt from Georgetown, TX
Vic, do you think the Packers are in for another offseason of upheaval?
If they fire McCarthy, yes. If they retain McCarthy as head coach, the offseason will be defined by change, not upheaval. Change is good. Upheaval usually isn't.
Conrad from Oklahoma City, OK
The announcers on SNF talked about the strength of the Packers' offensive line. They mentioned the guards, Lang and Sitton, used to be the strongest positions on the line. They said the Packers' tackles (along with strong play from the center) are the strength of the unit now. Is there an ideal way to build an offensive line?
Ted Thompson liked to draft left tackles and make them guards. It was understandable because the Packers were a passing team and that favors pass-blockers. I think the Packers are going to become a more balanced offense, and I think that means finding some run-blockers that can push the pile and get out in front of the ball and lead it downfield.
Ben from Chicago, IL
Vic, the Packers players talk about better execution. Is that code for meaning their best attempts to execute are being defeated by players with better talent and athleticism?
It's code for maybe Rodgers can blame the coach, but they don't dare.
Eric from Appleton, WI
Former Packer Will Blackmon revealed that after a road losing streak in 2008, Mike McCarthy made sure the hotel got worse for the next road trip. Blackmon said McCarthy told the team, "If you want to stay in a nice hotel, win a damn game." Do you have any other great stories of unconventional motivation techniques attempted by the teams you covered?
Following a loss, Coach Noll requested a chick flick for the flight home.
Stephen from San Diego, CA
Rodgers is certainly part of the problem, but I think painting a picture of the Packers with Rodgers in 2018 vs. the Packers with Hundley in 2017 is a disservice. The upgrade from Hundley is evident and is supported by all of their respective stats, with the exception of the team's win/loss record. Your recent comments on Rodgers do not appear to differ much from the fans' howl for McCarthy. It seems as though your howling is just more subtle and nuanced. Do you think the Rodgers extension was a mistake?
I think I've made my position clear on the extension. I thought the team should've waited for more information. This is a time to gather facts, not come to decisions. Once we have all of the information we need to adequately analyze the state of the Packers and their quarterback, then we can put it all together and get a feel for what the team should do going forward. I think it's a fact Rodgers is a significantly better quarterback than Hundley, but the record isn't better. Why? Here's another piece of information: Once upon a time, opposing quarterbacks rarely outplayed Rodgers. He took down the best of them: Roethlisberger in the Super Bowl, Brees in the 2011 opener, Brady in 2014. Now, he's being outplayed by Kirk Cousins. Why? These aren't rhetorical questions. They go to the heart of the problem and they demand answers.
Skip from Wisconsin
I liked your comment about accepting reality. It is very sound advice. I hope Packers fans will be able to do that. Part of that reality is understanding Rodgers of 2018 is not the Rodgers of 2014. Three significant injuries and getting older is part of the reality. Do you agree?
Joe from Bloomington, IN
Why are teams shutting the Packers down in the second half?
The Packers had a good plan in the first half; the Vikings' superior talent won the second half. Scheme often succeeds early; talent wins late.
Brian from Yakima, WA
Is that Alabama QB going to be the top pick of his draft?
I've studied him closely. Other than for a little wrist twist that's often seen in lefthanders, I don't see anything that's not to like. He throws an absolutely gorgeous deep ball. The combination of his deep arm and his scrambling ability makes him a scary player to defense.
John from St. Augustine, FL
Jalen Ramsey had an interception called back due to some sort of interference and was shown mouthing “you're trash” to the Bills players after the play. How embarrassing! An offseason trade doesn’t seem so ridiculous at this point.
I'm almost ready to agree with you.