By: Maximillian C Burgos
If Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is out for the season or until the later parts of the season, the NFC North could shape up in an interesting fashion moving forward. The Packers interestingly enough have not yet ruled Rodgers out yet after his injury.
Before Aaron Rodgers went down in the Packers’ week six matchup against the Vikings, Rodgers was arguably on route to another NFL MVP season, passing for 1,385 yards, 13 touchdowns, and only three interceptions, all giving him a passer rating of 103.2 on the season.
In week five against the Cowboys, Rodgers showed the world yet again that he is on a different level than anyone else in the League. With a 1:13 to go on the clock in the fourth quarter, he drove his team into scoring position and delivered an expertly placed ball to Davante Adams for a touchdown.
Rodgers was unfortunately taken out of this past Sunday’s game when Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr took him down late on a play in the first quarter. Rodgers was visibly shaken up after the play and when he rose to walk to the sideline, he had a few choice words for Barr.
Backup quarterback Brett Hundley stepped in, showing some potential as a young quarterback, but ultimately couldn’t help the Packers win the game. Hundley ended the game with 157 yards passing, a touchdown and a painful three interceptions.
The Vikings ultimately won the game 23-10, lifting them to a 4-2 record and tying them for first place with the Packers in the NFC North.
After the game, Rodgers was ruled with having a broken collar bone and agreed to have surgery done to help the bone heal. This puts the rest of his season in question. If the Packers don’t have Rodgers on the field, can they still be competitive in the NFC North?
The Vikings first and second string quarterbacks are both down at the moment with serious injuries.
It’s been almost two seasons since Teddy Bridgewater has thrown a ball in the NFL after his horrific knee injury, but there is a possibility that he may come back at some point this season. He was cleared to practice by doctors for the first time in 14 months according to sbnation.com on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
Sam Bradford, who had a good season with the Vikings last year as their starting quarterback may also be back, but there have been some whispers throughout the League that his knee injury could be career ending according to sources at ESPN.
Case Keenum has been the solid option so far this season. He threw his first interception for the season against the Packers this past Sunday. So far this season he has thrown for 1,134 yards, five touchdowns and one interception giving him a quarterback rating of 93.1.
Despite the other injuries on the team, the Vikings are in the best position to win the division. Their backfield has been electric this season. Rookie Dalvin Cook was third in the NFL rushing the ball before he tore his ACL, ending his season. Since then, Jerrick McKinnon has been electric on the ground, giving the Vikings fans a reason to smile.
The Vikings defense is also very solid. They are the 11th best defense in the League at the moment. They punish opposing running backs, shutting down opponent rushing attacks and strike fear into the heart of opposing quarterback with their backfield presence.
The Vikings no doubt have the best shot at winning the division after the Rodgers injury. According to espn.com, the Vikings have a 62% chance at winning the division and an 80% chance of making the playoffs. They are also projected to have a 10-6 record at the end of the season.
Without Rodgers, the Packers are in trouble if Hundley doesn’t improve upon his performance. The Packers might not win the division, but may still make the playoffs. According to espn.com, they have a 44% of making it into the playoffs with a projected record of 9-7.
The Packers have been decimated with injuries, 9-7 may be a stretch without the play of Rodgers to elevate this team.
The other team to talk about in the NFC North is the Detroit Lions. Some may argue that with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky now starting, the Chicago Bears should also be in the conversation. The fact of the matter is, he is a rookie and needs time to develop. With the tough division that he is in, there just isn’t much room for the Bears to make a run to the playoffs, this year.
According to espn.com, the Lions have a 32% chance of going to the playoffs and a 17% chance of winning the division with a projected record of 8-8.
The Lions have scored more points this season than any other team in their division so far. The Lions defense has been the thing that has let them down this season. They have lost two games this season by a margin of four or less points. One of those games ended on a controversial last minute rule enforcement to close out the game.
The defense also looked like a wet tissue against the Saints, allowing far to many points to be scored. Granted it, Matt Stafford didn’t do them any favors by throwing three interceptions, but they did have a chance to win the game.
If the Lions can pull some upsets and get their defense in order, they can be a strong contender in their division.
The NFC North should start to take shape interestingly as the season progresses, but as things stand without Rodgers in the mix, the Vikings are the clear favorite to win the division.