Injuries are as common to football as cheese is to Wisconsin, but the plague that has hit Green Bay is way beyond what any normal team goes through.
After beating the Arizona Cardinals by the score of 31-17, the Packers (6-3) are legitimately without 11 starting players. New injuries to WR Jordy Nelson, OL Bryan Bulaga and LB/DE Clay Matthews only adds salt to an open wound as the team enters their bye week.
What It Means: Discounting the injury excuse, the Packers should be extremely happy to be at 6-3 on the season. They’re only two games back of the Chicago Bears (7-1) whose schedule gets significantly more difficult going forward. The rushing game was an emphasis entering the week and it was fairly apparent with the Packers posting a season-high 176 yards on 39 carries. The 126 rushing yards they had at the half was the most since 2008, so it would be an understatement to say its been a long-time coming. Green Bay did a great job of splitting the carries between James Starks (17 carries), Alex Green (11) and Randall Cobb (3).
MVP Watch: Aaron Rodgers was fantastic while throwing four touchdowns for his third game this season with at least four passing scores. He was particularly impressive while running for most of his 36 yards on the ground in the first quarter. The Falcons Matt Ryan and Broncos Peyton Manning probably have a slight edge on Rodgers still, but his arrow is going in the right direction.
Player of the Game: WR Randall Cobb (202 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns)
Cobb made an impact on four different fronts against Arizona. He caught two touchdown passes, averaged 9.7 yards on three rushes and helped the Packers gain good field position on punt/kick returns. He’s not there yet, but Cobb is on his way to being the kind of player Percy Harvin is in Minnesota. The only difference is that Cobb has an elite quarterback to work with.
Highlight of the Game: Late in the second quarter, wideout James Jones recorded one of the prettiest touchdown catches of the season. Rodgers threw a tight spiral 28 yards down the field which was a 50/50 ball, but Jones concentrated and reached over the defender to come down for his league-leading 9th touchdown of the year.
Stat of the Game (6): The number of potential starters out because of injury for the Packers defense (DB Sam Shields, S Charles Woodson, LB Desmond Bishop, LB Nick Perry, LB D.J. Smith and Matthews) Yes, Green Bay has played two of the worst offenses in Jacksonville and Arizona over the past two weeks, but you still have to give them credit for putting the team in a position to win those games.
Injury Report: They’ve been discussed extensively already, but Nelson (ankle) left in the first quarter. Bulaga (hip) left in the second quarter. Cobb (shoulder) briefly left in the second, but returned and looked fine. Matthews (hamstring) left in the third quarter.
What’s Next: There’s no team that needs it more than the Packers, so they will get some rest during their bye and return in week 11 to play at Detroit. A game with the Lions marks one of the five divisional match-ups in the final seven weeks. The NFC North battle should be the most entertaining race in all of football as the Lions and Vikings are nowhere near out of it.
What did you think of the Packers win over the Cardinals? Are the injuries becoming an insurmountable problem? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictures obtained from Packers.com.