What now for the Green Bay Packers? Their hopes rest on a former fifth-round pick with zero starts under his belt
J.J. Watt's injury was demoralizing for the Texans. Losing Odell Beckham Jr. deflated the Giants. But the Packers without Aaron Rodgers? It's almost impossible to envision how they're going to survive. However, Green Bay has to figure it out after the all-world quarterback went down in Minnesota with a broken collarbone and could miss the rest of the season. Rodgers's last extended absence came in 2013, when a similar injury forced him to miss seven games and the team went 2-4-1, staying afloat just enough to make the playoffs. So, will the 2017 Packers, now 4-2, watch their season sink this time around? Let's start with the worst news.
Unlike last time, Rodgers's fracture is reportedly on his throwing shoulder, which is why he's expected to be out longer. Plus, he's not the only banged-up Packer. Three offensive lineman dealt with injuries Sunday as well, which will make the backup's job tougher.
In '13, Mike McCarthy had to use three quarterbacks within three games (Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien, and Matt Flynn). This time around, he immediately tabbed Brett Hundley as his starter. Hundley was a fifth-round pick in 2015, a UCLA product who fell in the draft amid questions concerning his accuracy and ability to read NFL defenses (for more on Hundley, check out this 2014 Lee Jenkins feature). But he very well could have grown in those areas after spending two years learning behind Rodgers. And maybe McCarthy can conjure a scheme that makes things easier; Hundley has the ability to make plays with his legs, which offers some creativity in run-game designs. If you want to believe, here's a stat: Going back to 2000, Hundley's preseason passer rating is second among all qualified QBs. If you'd rather be a pessimist, here's another stat: Colt McCoy is first.
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1. Steelers 19, Chiefs 13. The last of the unbeaten fell at home as an opposing defense finally stymied Andy Reid's multi-faceted attack. Kansas City earned just 12 first downs, while Le'Veon Bell led the Steelers' offense with 179 yards and Antonio Brown made a highlight reel snag-and-score on a deflected pass in the final minutes to put the game away.
2. Cardinals 38, Buccaneers 33. Adrian Peterson lives! The future Hall of Famer and new Cardinal had 134 yards and two scores in his Arizona debut. Ryan Fitzpatrick also lives? The ageless rifle stepped in after a shoulder injury (X-rays negative) knocked out Jameis Winston 10 passes into the game.
3. Patriots 24, Jets 17. Shockingly, New England needed the help of a controversial catch/fumble/touchdown/touchback call to go its way (final answer: touchback) to escape East Rutherford with a win. In the loss, Josh McCown became the sixth straight passer to go over 300 yards against the Pats, extending a record I'm guessing Bill Belichick will not be bragging about.
4. Chargers 17, Raiders 16. Los Angeles finally pulled out a close win as Nick Novak nailed a 32-yarder as time expired. In his return from a back injury, Derek Carr had 171 yards and two interceptions. Now he has to turn around and prepare for a pivotal Thursday night home game against the Chiefs.
5. Dolphins 20, Falcons 17. The biggest upset of the day played out in Atlanta, where Miami came back from a 17-0 halftime deficit. Matt Ryan was driving his Falcons for at least a game-tying field goal when Reshad Jones intercepted him deep in Miami territory, sealing a second straight home loss for Atlanta.
6. Texans 33, Browns 17. With three touchdowns Sunday, Deshaun Watson leads the league with 15, despite sitting the first half of Week 1. Meanwhile, the 0-6 Browns and coach Hue Jackson have no regrets about passing on the rookie QB twice in the draft. Nope. None. Next question.
7. Bears 27, Ravens 24. Mitchell Trubisky's first NFL win didn't come easy. Chicago blew a 14-point lead in Baltimore, but got redemption in overtime with a 71-yard drive powered by the running game (Trubisky completed one pass), winning it on Connor Barth's 40-yard kick.
8. Vikings 23, Packers 10. Minnesota was able to handle the Green Bay attack after Aaron Rodgers was knocked out on the second drive. As long as he's sidelined, the Vikings ought to be considered the best team in the NFC North.
9. Saints 52, Lions 38. Looking at the score, you might think the story of this one was offense, but New Orleans was actually carried by its D and a franchise-record three defensive scores. Drew Brees only needed 186 yards, the fewest he's had in a W since 2009.
10. Rams 27, Jaguars 17. A blocked punt and a kickoff returned for touchdowns lifted Los Angeles over Jacksonville. The Rams now head to London as the NFC West's top team, boasting a 3-0 road record to boot.
11. Giants 23, Broncos 10. The second biggest upset of the week lacked the drama of Falcons-Dolphins. Denver outgained its visitors, 412-266, but three turnovers and only 10 points despite four red-zone trips was the difference. Running back Orleans Darkwa and rookie tight end Evan Engram emerged for an injury ravaged Giants team, combining for 212 scrimmage yards.
12. Washington 26, 49ers 24. Once again, Jay Gruden got the best of a long-time Washington assistant. After beating Sean McVay in L.A., Gruden topped Kyle Shanahan at home, though rookie QB C.J. Beathard came in for San Francisco and nearly led a successful comeback attempt.
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