The last time Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a major injury (broken collarbone on non-throwing shoulder in 2013) and missed time, Green Bay went 2-4-1. Now with a broken collarbone on his throwing shoulder, Rodgers could miss the rest of the 2017 season.
With Rodgers in the lineup, the Packers were favored to win the NFC North and contend for the Super Bowl. Now his injury opens the door for the Vikings, Lions and Bears -- or does it?
Here's a closer look at who will win the NFC North and why:
Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Packers reporter
It's Oct. 16, and the Packers still have a share of first place in the NFC North. Don't be surprised if they still have it on New Year's Day. The Dec. 31 regular-season finale at Detroit could be for the division title for the second consecutive year. That may sound crazy after Rodgers' broken collarbone, but look at it this way: Who's better than the Packers? The Lions gave up 52 points to the Saints on Sunday. The Vikings didn't exactly blow out the Packers, and the Bears aren't legitimate contenders just yet. Yes, the Packers have myriad injuries on both sides of the ball. But don't be surprised if coach Mike McCarthy finds a way to succeed with Brett Hundley at quarterback. McCarthy is underrated and perhaps underappreciated, but he has enough experience in adverse situations that he might be able to save the season.
Courtney Cronin, Minnesota Vikings reporter
The Vikings will win the North if they can stay out of their own way. This team has been resilient in light of injuries to its starting quarterback, running back and No. 1 receiver. Case Keenum consistently has outperformed the expectations for a backup quarterback. Minnesota has a good thing going with its committee of running backs, headlined by Jerick McKinnon's explosive plays (all he needs to do is cut back on the fumbles). The defense is the glue that holds this team together with a strong pass rush and top-five run-stopping unit. But there's a tendency to pause with this team. After all, the same team that started 5-0 last season lost eight of its final 11 games. If Teddy Bridgewater is able to play this season, the Vikings will be faced with a potentially season-altering decision to bring him back or continue to ride with Keenum. That decision won't be an easy one to make, especially if the postseason is a likelihood and they're trying to determine which of their quarterbacks will be able to get the job done against the league's best teams.
Michael Rothstein, Detroit Lions reporter
Minnesota. I'd be tempted to pick Detroit here because the Lions have the best quarterback situation, despite Matthew Stafford's five-turnover performance against New Orleans. But Detroit has issues in a lot of other places, particularly on its offensive line and with receivers unable to get enough separation for Stafford to have any room for error on throws. The Vikings, though, have the division's best defense and if Sam Bradford returns, they have a quarterback who fits the offense, too. McKinnon seems to be a capable replacement for Dalvin Cook, so the Vikings won't lose as much there as initially thought. Any pick, right now, though is a true dart throw since it's not entirely clear how Green Bay will handle being without Rodgers and whether the Lions can fix their offensive and defensive issues. This is a division that truly feels wide open.
Jeff Dickerson, Chicago Bears reporter
The Lions. It's a quarterback-driven league, and Stafford is the best one still healthy in the division. Sure, he had a lousy Week 6 in New Orleans, but I'll take Stafford over Mitchell Trubisky, Keenum, Bradford and whomever the Packers trot out at quarterback. Even before the Rodgers injury, I thought it was a two-horse race in the North between Green Bay and Detroit. Minnesota doesn't have enough on offense to seriously threaten for the postseason. Trubisky is impressive, but Chicago isn't a contender -- yet. And you can't overstate how much the Packers will suffer without Rodgers. He's everything to that team. The Lions should be the clear favorites in the North as long as Stafford is healthy.