The Packers' loss on Sunday to the Detroit Lions was a crushing blow to both their egos and their playoff hopes, but perhaps the biggest news to come out of the game was the concussion sustained by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, his second of the season.
The best-case scenario for the Packers would be that it was only a mild concussion and Rodgers would be cleared by the medical staff to play Sunday evening against the Patriots, which would give the Packers a puncher's chance against the league's hottest team. After Rodgers sustained his first concussion in a Week 5 loss to the Redskins, he was able to play the following week versus Miami, but the Packers might not be so lucky this time.
The Packers and their medical staff are more likely to be extra cautious with Rodgers this time to prevent any permanent damage. There have been many quarterbacks in the NFL, including Troy Aikman and Steve Young, who have cut their careers short due to concussions, something I'm sure the Packers will want to try to avoid at all costs. The good news for Rodgers and the Packers is that this is only the second concussion of Rodger's career. Young had at least seven while Aikman has estimated he sustained 10 during his Hall-of-Fame career. As important as the next couple games are for the Packers, Rodgers' long term health needs to be the Packers' top priority.
The worst-case scenario for the Packers would be the loss of Rodgers for more than one game. The Packers' playoff hopes, as slim as they might be at this point, still rest on the arm of Aaron Rodgers, and the Packers cannot afford to lose him for more than one game.
The most likely scenario is that the Packers sit Rodgers this week, a game the Packers would be likely to lose with or without Rodgers, and get him back for the two crucial games against the Giants and Bears.
So where does that leave the Packers' playoff chances?
The Packers still have a small chance to win the division, but the loss to the Lions was a crucial loss within the division. Unless the Vikings beat the Bears next Monday night, the Bears will hold the tie breaker in the event that both teams have the same record at the end of the regular season.
The Packers also need some help to obtain a wild card slot. Currently the Saints, who seem like a lock for one of the spots, the Giants and the Buccaneers are all ahead of the Packers in wild card seeding. A win over the Giants would go a long way to helping the Packers' wild card chances, but the Packers will still need help and a bit of luck to grab the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC.
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