Aaron Rodgers' injury means NFC North race is wide open

Mike McGinnis

Aaron Rodgers' injury has changed the dynamic of the NFC North title race.

Monday night drastically changed the outlook of the NFC North title race. The Green Bay Packers lost to the Chicago Bears, creating a three-way tie at the top of the division. With the Packers, Bears and Detroit Lions all 5-3, the division is completely up for grabs going into the second half of the season, especially when you consider what happened to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers was knocked out of Monday night's game early on after taking a hard hit that resulted in him being driven into the ground. Rodgers left the game and was unable to return, and speculation suggested that he suffered a collarbone injury. On Tuesday, Rodgers confirmed that he broke his left collarbone, but he's unsure of how long this injury will keep him out. You wouldn't think he'd be back in the near future, but an exact timetable has not been established just yet.

Considering the Lions host the Packers on Thanksgiving just three weeks from this Thursday, it's very possible that Rodgers will be out for that game. If that is the case, the Lions will have a golden opportunity to not only end their losing streak on Thanksgiving, but they will have a chance to really take control of the NFC North with a victory. First things first, they need to take care of business this Sunday at the Bears, but Rodgers' injury has completely changed the dynamic of this title race.

Here's a look at the remaining schedules for the teams in the mix for the division crown:

Lions Packers Bears
Week 10 at Bears vs. Eagles vs. Lions
Week 11 at Steelers at Giants vs. Ravens
Week 12 vs. Buccaneers vs. Vikings at Rams
Week 13 vs. Packers at Lions at Vikings
Week 14 at Eagles vs. Falcons vs. Cowboys
Week 15 vs. Ravens at Cowboys at Browns
Week 16 vs. Giants vs. Steelers at Eagles
Week 17 at Vikings at Bears vs. Packers

None of these schedules are overly difficult. Before Rodgers' injury, for example, it looked like the Packers might not lose another game before coming to Detroit for Thanksgiving. Now, though, with Rodgers set to miss some time, Green Bay could very easily lose on multiple occasions in the coming weeks. There's no guarantee that will happen, but Rodgers' injury has opened the door for the Lions and Bears to separate themselves from the Packers as the second half of the season gets going.

If the Lions are ever going to win the NFC North, this seems like the year. The stars are aligning, and between the schedule and the injuries in Chicago and Green Bay, the Lions may not get a better chance than this.

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