Thanks to a horrific season-ending collarbone injury suffered by Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a 23-10 loss to the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings (4-2), perhaps the biggest beneficiary is the Detroit Lions.
Detroit (3-3), who lost in a wild back-and-forth shootout down in New Orleans to the Saints, 52-38, may be in prime position to win the NFC North due to Rodgers’ injury. While some may disagree with this notion, I’m not sold on the Vikings because of their issues at quarterback in the form of If-Sam Bradford, Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater.
Minnesota may have the best defense, wide receivers and running game in the division and Chicago is out of the picture, due to them handing the reins over to rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the Lions have the best player ant the most important position in football: quarterback.
Yes, Minnesota has playmakers on offense such as Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Latavius Murray, Kyle Rudolph and perhaps the most underrated top-five defense in the league that features ballers such as Everson Griffen, Eric Hendricks, Anthony Barr, Trae Waynes, Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes, the Vikings have the defense to cause problems down the stretch.
But who is their QB going to be, Keenum, Bradford or Bridgewater?
Which brings me to the Lions. While they do not have quite the ferocious defense that Minnesota has, Detroit has their own brand of ballers in the form of Cornelius Washington, Haloti Ngata, Ezekiel Ansah, Jarrad Davis and Darius Slay.
On offense, based on their experience, I give the Lions a slight edge over Minnesota at WR in Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, tight end Eric Ebron. Running back Ameer Abdullah looks to be flashing some of the potential he showed during his college days at Nebraska, which will help take some of the pressure off of Matthew Stafford’s rocket-throwing golden arm.
Schedule-wise, Detroit also has the upper hand, thanks a 14-7 Week 4 win over the Vikings up in the Twin Cities, and has upcoming favorable matchups vs. the Rodgers-less Packers in Week 9 and 17, the winless Cleveland Browns at home in Week 10, a Thanksgiving Day game vs Minnesota in Week 13 and a home date vs the Trubisky-led Bears in Weeks 11 and 15.
Detroit should at best win five of those six games, and if they can somehow manage to upset the powerful visting Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8 and NFC contender Tampa Bay on the road in Week 14, the Lions could very well wrap up the North by Week 17.
While some may feel that the NFC North is wide open—and to a degree, it is—the Lions may now have the right claim to the divisional throne.