It is to no surprise that the Minnesota Vikings yet again have a stellar defense but who would have seen the injuries to Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook coming?
How about J.J. Watt, Odell Beckham Junior, Richard Sherman, Eric Berry, Deshaun Watson and many, many more?
It is almost as if the National Football League is having an injury problem. The Packers have had their fair share of injuries. Anything from Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone to Martellus Bennett’s shoulder “injury”, whether fictional or real, this team has had plenty of them. Packers’ rookie RB Aaron Jones was just recently injured, showing that another promising offensive player has gone down for a period of time.
What has happened to the Packers’ team is not unprecedented. If anything, Packers fans should realize that every single team has to endure injuries throughout the season. One might ask, “well not every team loses their star quarterback”, and that is true. But, the Minnesota Vikings lost their franchise quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater to a multi-year injury. Going further, they lost their backup Sam Bradford, and right now their third-string quarterback Case Keenum is their starter and the Vikings are 8-2. So, the Packers and the Vikings both have their franchise quarterbacks out. Teddy Bridgewater may finally be active for the Vikings, but that Minnesota team has found a way to win without him. That is what separates the Vikings and the Packers in the NFC North. The Vikings know how to rally and win without their number one guy. The Packers clearly are disconnected without Rodgers and their offense is a mess that looks like it isn’t going to recover anytime soon.
What has Aaron’s injury meant for the league? The Packers might have been the best team in the NFC and first in the NFC North. They would absolutely at the least have the wildcard spot secured by the end of the season, and mostly everyone in Packerland would be pleased.
Oh, how things have changed. Instead, here we are.
The Vikings are in first, Lions second, Packers third, and Chicago fourth. There are a lot of factors that play into an NFL season to begin with, and losing Aaron Rodgers was one that the Packers simply were not prepared for.
Taking a look back at the Packers schedule, they have struggled as of late. Going into the game against the Vikings things were looking bright. It was as if the Packers were never going to lose again. Then, Anthony Barr happened. Now, every team could play the injury game, but that is not the point. The injury to Aaron Rodgers didn’t just change the Packers’ quarterback room, but it changed the entire NFC playoff picture.
The Philadelphia Eagles are at the top of the NFC with a 9-1 record, with their only loss coming against the Chiefs in week two. The Eagles have blossomed into a top team in the NFC with second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. In the second spot is Minnesota. This team has shown what it takes to win. This is where the Packers could have disrupted Minnesota’s season. In week six against the Vikings, the Packers had a solid chance to win in Minnesota. Instead, Rodgers gets hurt, Brett Hundley is thrown into the game and the rest is history. The Packers would most likely be either number one or two in the NFC at this point. With Aaron Rodgers, the Packers could have most likely beaten the Vikings in week six, the Lions in week nine, and the Ravens in week eleven. That would leave the Packers with just two losses to the Falcons and Saints, which would leave them sitting with an 8-2 record. That would place them second or third in the NFC. The Saints would most likely have taken the second spot in the NFC since they would have in theory won against the Packers in week seven even with a healthy Aaron Rodgers. The Vikings would then be 7-3 and right behind the Packers.
Theoretically, if Aaron Rodgers never broke his collarbone, the NFC playoff picture could look something like this:
- Philadelphia Eagles
- New Orleans Saints
- Green Bay Packers
- Minnesota Vikings (wild card)
- Los Angeles Rams
- Carolina Panthers
Instead, the Packers are fighting for a chance at the wild card spot. To do that, they would most likely have to win four more games this year. That would leave them at 9-7. A 9-7 record would be the best-case scenario for the Packers at this point. And if a healthy Aaron Rodgers comes back from his collarbone injury he would do so around week 16 against the Vikings. That would also require the Packers to be competitive enough for Rodgers to come back. They would have to win their next three out of four games. This would set them at 8-6, and give Rodgers enough hope that he should come back and possibly lead the Packers to the playoffs as he did the last time he broke his collarbone in 2013.
As for right now, Packers’ fans will just have to “ride the wave”.