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Packers Mailbag: Underdog mentality

Each week, readers are invited to submit questions about the Green Bay Packers via Twitter using the hashtag #PackersMail. Here are some of the hot topics as we get closer to this Sunday's NFC Championship Game at the Seattle Seahawks:

Demovsky: It's not just the media -- although just about everyone on the ESPN panel (except for Mike Ditka and Seth Wickersham) and the NFL Nation panel (except for Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas) picked against them. The oddsmakers have established the Seahawks as an overwhelming favorite. With a line between a touchdown and 7.5 points, the Packers have not been this big of an underdog with Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback, dating to 2008. They were a six-point underdog in Seattle in Week 1 and lost by 20. To be sure, Rodgers relishes the underdog role. He still carries a chip on his shoulder because not one single Division I team recruited him out of high school and because 23 teams passed on him in the 2005 draft before the Packers took him. But that's not what wins games. I can guarantee you this: the Packers don't look at themselves as an underdog. Several players said coach Mike McCarthy did not bring it up once before the team left for Seattle on Friday.

Demovsky: You're right, that was my pick. And for the game to be that close, they had better not miss 18 tackles. But you're right in the sense that this is a different team, especially a different defense, than the Packers had in Week 1. That 4-3 defense you mentioned was something the Packers had worked on privately all offseason, and they wanted to throw it at the unsuspecting Seahawks. Even the surprise factor didn't help. It was so ineffective that defensive coordinator Dom Capers junked it after a couple of weeks. Also, they won't have Derek Sherrod playing half the game at right tackle in place of Bryan Bulaga, who left with a knee injury. Sherrod was so bad that the former first-round pick didn't make it out of the first week of November. I expect the Packers to play a competitive game. They might even win. But the smart money says it's a long shot.

Demovsky: We actually saw a hint of something different from their dime package Sunday against the Cowboys. They used cornerback Jarrett Bush in place of Brad Jones, who had been the lone inside linebacker in the dime package. We could see more of that against the Seahawks. They wouldn't want to use Clay Matthews in that role because those are the situations in which they want him rushing off the edge. When the Packers go to their dime package, they're expecting a pass, so they want Matthews getting after the quarterback. As for Sean Richardson, there is a package that gets him on the field, but it's a base 3-4 alignment in which he replaces one of the cornerbacks, giving the Packers three safeties and one corner on the field. They call it "Big Okie" -- "Okie" is what they call their 3-4 -- and it's designed to give them a little bigger presence against the run.

Demovsky: I don't think they would have kept Scott Tolzien on the roster all year if they didn't think he had a chance to be the long-term No. 2 quarterback. Here's the problem, the No. 3 quarterback doesn't get many reps in practice, so the Packers aren't going to have much better of a feel for what Tolzien can do now than they did at the end of training camp. But what they do know is that Tolzien will have another year in the system, another year watching and learning from Aaron Rodgers. As for the draft, history tells us that they're not likely to select a quarterback and especially unlikely to take one in the early rounds. They have drafted exactly one quarterback (B.J. Coleman in the seventh round in 2012) in the past six drafts.