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Ferr or Foul: State of the NFC North

By Matt Ferris

Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings took on the Green Bay Packers.

Midway through the first quarter, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers scrambled out of the pocket, improvising in a way that only he can.

Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr pressured the scrambling Rodgers and despite his ability to get rid of the football, he couldn’t avoid a crushing hit from Barr.

Rodgers was driven shoulder :rst into the turf and showed he was in pain immediately.

The quarterback was walked off the field and carted to the locker room favoring his right shoulder.

The Packers released a statement later in the day, reporting Rodgers had broken his collarbone and will most likely miss the rest of the regular season, the second time such an injury has taken a season from Rodgers.

The Packers finished the game with Brett Hundley under center, who threw three interceptions in Green Bay’s losing effort to their division foes.

With the Rodgers injury, the biggest question is, “What does this mean for the NFC North?”

With Rodgers under center for Green Bay, the Packers were easily the favorite to win the division, but the injury drastically changes everything.

After Sunday, the Vikings and Packers are tied for the division lead at 4-2 and the Detroit Lions are just a game back at 3-3.

Minnesota has a good chance at the division crown, but with its quarterback, Sam Bradford, struggling to stay on the field and having a history of knee problems, the Vikings don’t have much stability at that position, either. Bradford has only appeared in two games this year, making it through only one. The Vikings star rookie running back, Dalvin Cook, tore his ACL in Week 4, putting him out for the rest of the 2017 campaign. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota’s top receiver, now has a groin injury – an injury known to linger. Yes, Minnesota does have a solid defense, but it won’t be able to carry them all the way.

Green Bay is a completely different team without Rodgers. A team with an average defense, the Packers are carried by their offense most weeks. Without Rodgers playing Green Bay, will struggle to keep up offensively, but arguably what it will miss most is Rodgers’ uncanny ability to lead game-winning drives no matter the situation – just look at his last two performances against Dallas. A Brett Hundley-led offense scored just 10 points on the Vikings in Week 6. If Green Bay is struggling to hang with a depleted Vikings team, then it is going to struggle as long as Hundley is under center.

Detroit has one of the most talented offenses in the NFL, averaging 26.8 points per game. With weapons like Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Eric Ebron, Kenny Golladay and Ameer Abdullah, quarterback Matthew Stafford has threats everywhere he turns. But fans have seen two different Lions teams this year, one that looks like a playoff team and one that looks like a team that will be drafting in the top 10 of next year’s draft. If the Lions can figure it out and play with some consistency and Stafford steps up and plays like the highest paid player in the NFL that he is, then it is the Lions’ division to lose.

But with inconsistency all the way around the division, it is up for grabs and will be a fun race to watch – maybe Mitchell Trubisky can shock us all and win the North.

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