By MATTHEW ROLISON
Since Week One of the NFL regular season, stars across the league have been plagued with injuries. It started with the number one ranked fantasy player, running back and member of the Arizona Cardinals, David Johnson, injuring his wrist in a matchup against the Detroit Lions. Odell Beckham, wide receiver on the New York Giants who won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2015, suffered a broken leg. In the same week, defensive end and three time NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the Houston Texans, J.J. Watt, went down with a broken tibial bone.
This week, the Green Bay Packers’ star quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his right collarbone against NFC North rival, the Minnesota Vikings. In the first quarter of play, Viking linebacker Anthony Barr struck Rodgers moments after he passed the ball, bringing him hard to the ground. Brett Hundley replaced Rodgers for the remainder of the game, and quite possibly for the rest of the season. The next three quarters of the game did not go in the Packers favor, they gave up 23 points following Rodgers exit. Green Bay only managed to score 10 points on the day, the lone touchdown coming from second-string quarterback Brett Hundley on a 14 yard pass to receiver Davante Adams with 10:47 left in the second quarter.
Following the loss, Green Bay dropped to 4-2 on the season, but their record was not the only thing that dropped. The betting line for the Packers vs Saints game in Week Seven dropped 10 points, now favoring the Saints by four points. On the other hand, Minnesota moved up to 4-2 on the season, taking the reigns of the division from the Packers. Green Bay is still in second place following the Detroit Lions wild loss to the New Orleans Saints, 52-38. The NFC North as it stands: 1. Minnesota Vikings (4-2), 2. Green Bay Packers (4-2), 3. Detroit Lions (3-3), and 4. Chicago Bears (2-4).
With Rodgers out for possibly the remainder of the season, the NFC North is wide open.
In only his second career start, Mitchell Trubisky led the Chicago Bears to a 27-24 victory against the Baltimore Ravens in Week Six, earning the first win of his career. The Bears host the Carolina Panthers in Week Seven and then head to New Orleans to face the Saints in Week Eight. Chicago will play against NFC North rivals the Detroit Lions two times this season and once more against the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers.
The Detroit Lions started off the season on a high note, but have since simmered down, dropping to a record of 3-3 on the year. Detroit has a bye week during Week Seven, returning in Week Eight for a matchup at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Detroit still has both matchups against the Green Bay Packers left to go this season, as well as both matchups against Chicago and one more against the Vikings.
The Minnesota Vikings received good news pertaining to injured quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He returned to practice and will look to make a return in the coming weeks. Minnesota now holds first place in the division. If Bridgewater can stay healthy and return to his former self, the Vikings will be the favorites to come out on top in the NFC North.
The Green Bay Packers still have a respectable 4-2 record, but that will likely go down now with Aaron Rodgers out. Aaron Rodgers has not suffered a major injury since 2013, where he went down with a collarbone injury against the Chicago Bears, missing six games. During those six games, the Packers won two and lost three, with one tie. With Rodgers out, Green Bay cycled through three different quarterbacks: Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien, and Matt Flynn.
The Aaron Rodgers injury not only affects the Packers, but the MVP race as well. Through six weeks, Rodgers has thrown for 1,385 yards and 13 touchdowns, only throwing three interceptions. With Rodgers out of the picture, quarterbacks Tom Brady and Alex Smith are the frontrunners for MVP. Rookie phenom Kareem Hunt, running back for the Kansas CIty Chiefs, is also in the conversation for MVP. With Aaron Rodgers gone, the NFC North and the NFL MVP race is open for the taking.
Around the Rest of the League
Former star running back, Adrian Peterson, now 32 years old, was traded by the New Orleans Saints to the Arizona Cardinals prior to Week Six. Through the first five games as a member of the Saints, Peterson only accumulated 27 carries for 81 yards. In his first game with Arizona this week, Peterson racked up two touchdowns on 26 carries for 134 yards. Adrian Peterson and the rest of the Arizona Cardinals take on the Los Angeles Rams in Week 7
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers witnessed a scare as quarterback Jameis Winston went down with a shoulder injury. After further inspection, Winston was diagnosed with a minor joint sprain and is only day-to-day. Tampa Bay is matched up against the Buffalo Bills in Week Seven and it is unknown whether or not Winston will be 100 percent come game day.
The New England Patriots also witnessed a scare of their own, nearly falling to the struggling New York Jets. While New England ended winning 24-17, there was a controversial call that shut down the Jets comeback efforts. With 8:31 left to go in the fourth, Josh McCown completed a pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who then proceeded to reach the end zone after diving into the pylon. The refs ruled that he did not have complete control over the ball when he ran into the pylon, automatically resulting in a touchback and Patriots ball. The replay shows differently. This controversial call led to the New England Patriots sneaking away with the win.
The landscape of the NFL is drastically different with no Aaron Rodgers. The NFL this season has been filled with surprises thus far and this week was no different.
Matthew Rolison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org