Last Sunday in Dallas, after Dak Prescott had quarterbacked the Cowboys to a 31-28 lead over the Packers with 1:13 to go, Aaron Rodgers answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive to beat the Cowboys in Dallas for the second time in nine months.
This week Rodgers broke his right collarbone after being slammed to the ground by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. Just like that, his season may be over.
Crazy, isn’t it? That’s just football, some will say. Rodgers joins the likes of J.J. Watt, Odell Beckham Jr., David Johnson and Julian Edelman as players that will miss the rest of the season due to injuries, to name a few. It’s the harsh reality of America’s most popular sport. At any moment, one injury can derail a franchise’s entire season, all while changing the course of the league for the rest of the year.
Heck, even Tom Brady (torn ACL in 2008) and Peyton Manning (neck surgery in 2011) missed entire seasons due to injury.
Rodgers himself injured his left collarbone in 2013. The Packers were 5-2 and were on a four-game winning streak prior to the injury. The Packers went just 2-5-1 without Rodgers before he returned in Week 17. The injury nearly cost them a playoff spot and virtually cost them the season anyhow.
Now, the Rodgers injury further adds to the wonk year that is the 2017 NFL season.
The Giants were 0-5 after a bye and came to Denver and thrashed the Broncos.
The Steelers upset the Chiefs in Kansas City just one week after Roethlisberger’s pick-barrage that spurred a 30-9 home loss to the Jaguars.
Not only are their no more unbeaten teams after Week 6, there are only two one-loss teams.
The Eagles lone loss just happens to be to the Chiefs, who still appear to be the best team in football.
The AFC is a mess, but the NFC is even more of a mystery due to Rodgers injury.
Will the Packers do enough to make the postseason with Brett Hundley, whether Rodgers returns or not?
Will the Eagles keep this up? Will either the Panthers or Falcons step up? Are the Rams and Vikings legitimate contenders? Will the Seahawks or Saints make a run?
Behold, the wonk year. After Rodgers’ injury, it’s clear this season’s outlook isn’t getting any clearer.
Steelers down Chiefs in Kansas City
Similar to the Rodgers situation, the Steelers were in the midst of a different situation last Monday morning after being clobbered by the Jaguars the day before.
Roethlisberger had five interceptions that day, but none yesterday, as he effectively fed two of the NFL’s best weapons in Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, who combined 346 yards and two touchdowns.
The performance by Bell and Brown felt personal, as many (me included) have called the Chiefs trio of Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt the NFL’s best trio of weapons after their fast start to the season.
Now the Steelers (4-2) sit in an advantageous position as the season’s midway point nears. Unlike the Patriots (4-2) who are also one game back of the Chiefs (5-1) but lost to Kansas City, Pittsburgh now owns the tiebreaker with yesterday’s foe.
Tom Brady has had his way with the Steelers in the past, but has struggled versus these Chiefs. The Steelers not only beat the Chiefs yesterday, but also beat them 18-16 in Kansas City in last year’s AFC Divisional Playoff Game, before getting clobbered by Brady and company in New England the following week.
It’ll be interesting to see how the AFC plays out as the season unfolds.
Elderly trio leads Cardinals to victory
Larry Fitzgerald (34) has been in Arizona for his entire career. Carson Palmer (37) has been quarterbacking the Cardinals for the past five seasons. Adrian Peterson (32) has been the Cardinals running back for just one week.
All three, with a combined average of 34.5 years led their team to a 38-33 win over the Buccaneers in a grueling sport.
Peterson was the star of the show by far, running for 134 yards and two scores on 26 carries.
This performance is not expected to repeat itself each week, but Peterson’s hard running was refreshing for Palmer, who has been in need of that remedy since David Johnson was lost with a wrist injury in Week 1.
Off-the-field issues aside, Peterson has shown his mettle throughout his career — including battling back from a Torn ACL to win the 2012 NFL MVP award the following year — but that intangible was challenged when Peterson exhibited clear frustration with the Saints coaching staff in regard to his playing time.
In Arizona, Peterson looked like a new man, and had fun doing it. Just one game behind the Rams in the NFC West, the Cardinals may be a team to keep an eye on for the rest of 2017.
NFL MVP race (first too-early edition)
Six weeks into the NFL season is five weeks too late to discuss the MVP award this day in age. Heck, Kareem Hunt’s Week 1 performance versus the Patriots had many wondering if he’d win the award. Many last week had Aaron Rodgers at the top of their list, and that was well warranted before his injury.
This may not be a weekly column tentpole just yet, but here’s the inaugural too-early edition for the league’s most coveted award.
- Carson Wentz
- Alex Smith
- Tom Brady
- Kareem Hunt
- Antonio Brown/Le’Veon Bell
Honorable mention: Deshaun Watson, Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley