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Cheese Curds, 12/16: Debating Barnes v. Kirksey and the NFL MVP race

Should the Packers make a change at inside linebacker?

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Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers head into the final three-week stretch of the 2020 regular season with few questions on offense. The defense, however, has plenty to work on, as that unit still sits in the bottom half in the NFL in most categories.

The Packers’ DVOA is consistent across the board on defense, as the team ranks 20th overall, 19th against the pass, and 22nd against the run. One reason for the team’s struggles may be linebacker Christian Kirksey, who has yet to show signs of the player he was in Cleveland early on in his career. Instead, undrafted rookie Krys Barnes has arguably been the better player, even despite normal rookie growing pains, and in today’s curds we find one beat writer who is actively campaigning for the Packers to move Kirksey out of the middle linebacker spot and give that job to Barnes full-time.

It would be a big move, but one that could indeed help the defense and even Kirksey himself. His solid play in Cleveland came at the Will position instead, and shifting him there might allow him a bit more freedom to make plays.

Regardless of any moves the Packers make on defense, Aaron Rodgers should continue making big plays on offense. Also in curds, we find one major online publication that is fully on board the “Rodgers for MVP” train.

Now's the time to put trust in rookies on defense |
For the first time while Christian Kirksey has been healthy, the Packers played one of their rookies -- Krys Barnes -- ahead of him at the Mike spot at times on Sunday. Barnes has simply looked like the better player this season, so Tom Silverstein makes the case to make him the full-time Mike and move Kirksey to a part-time role at the Will.

NFL MVP 2020: Packers' Aaron Rodgers takes the lead in the MVP race as we enter Week 15 | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics | PFF
So let it be let it be done.

What You Might’ve Missed: Making it work on third down |
Mike Spofford breaks down the tape of many of the Packers' third-down conversions in Detroit, plus he gives Jamaal Williams some love for some tremendous pass-blocking on back-to-back plays.

Packers offense: First in points, PFF grade, DVOA | Packers Wire
Traditional statistics and analytics agree for once! The Packers sit second in total yards of offense, but that's fine when they are scoring touchdowns in the red zone at their current rate.

Robert Tonyan becomes productive tight end Packers have sought all along - ESPN
Tonyan is having a tremendous year, but he's going to need a big payday in some form as a restricted free agent this offseason. With the first-round tender likely to cost close to $5 million and the second-round tender a bit over $3 million, expect him to get the latter and for the Packers to take their chances.

NFL notifies clubs there will be no local playoff bubbles |
Not only will there be no massive bubble for the NFL's playoffs this season -- which means the Packers will definitely host at least one game at Lambeau Field -- but teams are now being instructed not to enforce a local bubble aside from the night before a game.

Portland man accused of chasing McDonald's employees with chainsaw | WGME
Stay weird, Portland. Wait, this was Portland, Maine? Well, stay weird anyway. (Thankfully nobody was hurt in this encounter.)