Sometimes, an injury can affect multiple teams.
Look no further than Monday night, when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers departed with a left shoulder injury. The Packers, who were absolutely rolling on their first drive against Chicago, would ultimately lose to the underdog Bears, 27-20, who were playing without their starting quarterback.
According to ESPN, Rodgers may miss three weeks with a broken left collarbone. If indeed Rodgers were out multiple weeks, he would miss both Sunday’s game vs. the Eagles and the Nov. 17 game at the Giants.
The Packers would have been favored to win both games with Rodgers. With Rodgers out, nothing seems guaranteed with Green Bay. If either the 4-5 Eagles or the 2-6 Giants could defeat the Packers, it would be akin to stealing a win.
Think of the impact that could have on the NFC East race. And think of what that could mean in the NFC North, where the Packers are now in a three-way tie with the Bears and Lions at 5-3.
The Packers are a deep, talented team, a group that will not be a pushover even if Rodgers is out. But there is no question they are vulnerable without him. They will be put to the test if he misses one game.
And even a game could be enough to have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the conference, including the Giants, who need to string as many wins together as they can in the second half of the season.
Here’s how NBC 4 New York ranks the NFC’s 16 teams, including the Giants, through Monday:
1. Seattle Seahawks (8-1) — They have not needed their “A” game to beat St. Louis or Tampa Bay and probably won’t need it to beat Atlanta and Minnesota to be 10-1 entering their bye in Week 12.
2. San Francisco 49ers (6-2) — Very much the Seahawks’ shadow. The Dec. 8 matchup at Candlestick Park looks like it could be for the NFC West title. Now, if we really want to look ahead, we’ll note that the 49ers have to travel to the Buccaneers the following week, with the Seahawks traveling to face the Giants. If ever there were a time for the Niners or Seahawks to be vulnerable, it would be the game after a pressure-packed, playoff-like game against their biggest rivals. It’s something to consider, Giants fans. We’re just saying . . .
3. New Orleans Saints (6-2) — The Panthers look like they will give them a battle in the NFC South. At the half-mile point, it’s the Saints by a length, with the Panthers moving up and the Falcons and Buccaneers dropping well out of it.
4. Carolina Panthers (5-3) — They will be tested in their next two games. First, they face the 49ers in San Francisco on Sunday. Eight days later, they host the AFC East-leading Patriots.
5. Detroit Lions (5-3) — They can deal the Bears’ NFC North hopes a blow with a win at Chicago on Sunday. A victory would give the Lions the season sweep and the head-to-head tiebreaker.
6. Chicago Bears (5-3) — The Bears’ improvement on offense has made them an NFC North contender even as their defense and special teams have regressed.
7. Green Bay Packers (5-3) — With Rodgers in the lineup, they are an NFC-title contender and safely in the top five of these rankings. Without him, they would be in a fight to make the playoffs.
8. Dallas Cowboys (5-4) — With the game on the line Sunday, quarterback Tony Romo was at his best, leading a 90-yard drive ending in a TD pass to Dwayne Harris to give the Cowboys a 27-23 victory vs. the Vikings. Romo is often criticized for his shortcomings, but he was sharp when the division-leading Cowboys needed him most in Week Nine.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) — When their offense is clicking, they can contend in the NFC East.
10. Arizona Cardinals (4-4) — They draw struggling Houston and hapless Jacksonville in the next two weeks. Don’t be surprised if they are in the wild-card discussion when December begins.
11. Washington Redskins (3-5) — With a win Thursday night at Minnesota, they will have a better record (4-5) than they had after nine games a season ago (3-6). Now, let’s see if Washington can take care of business.
12. New York Giants (2-6) — he Giants’ recent defensive improvement has been eye-opening. If they can sustain that, it could be an interesting final two months of the regular season for Big Blue.
13. St. Louis Rams (3-6) — With remaining games against the 49ers, Seahawks, Saints, Colts and Bears, the Rams are unlikely to make any sort of rally back into the postseason chase.
14. Atlanta Falcons (2-6) — Some rotten injury luck has doomed this talented-but-thin team.
15. Minnesota Vikings (1-7) — The Vikings do not seem likely to win many more games, but they have enough talented and proud veterans to be a potential thorn in the side of someone down the stretch. They could give Washington a tough game on Thursday night.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8) — Five of their losses have been by eight points or less.