The New Orleans Saints, fresh off their 3rd straight win, are catching their next opponent — the Green Bay Packers — at just the right time, at least from their own perspective anyway.
The Packers have been devastated by injuries in recent weeks, and none bigger than the one that they suffered yesterday at the hands of their division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Green Bay Packers injury report is the most depressing list in NFL
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) October 16, 2017
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, one of the NFL's "elite" quarterbacks, broke his right collarbone when Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr hit him in the 1st quarter Sunday. The quarterback was rolling out to his right with Barr pressuring him. As Rodgers threw, Barr hit him in the midsection and drove Rodgers into the turf on his shoulder.
As ESPN Packers beat writer Rob Demovsky reported earlier: Rodgers will have surgery on his broken collarbone in the near future, and the All-Pro quarterback's season potentially could be over, but the Packers won't make a final decision until after the procedure.
Back-up QB (and former UCLA star) Brett Hundley replaced Rodgers in the 23-10 loss, and has been named the team's brand new starter going forward; and he will get his 1st-ever NFL start against the Saints on Sunday.
Additionally, quarterback Joe Callahan was promoted from the Packers practice squad on Monday. In the meantime, the team has stated that it is not interested in bringing in a veteran quarterback, such as controversial free-agent and former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick.
— Packers Memes (@packersmemes_) October 16, 2017
As it is, the final numbers weren't exactly stellar for Hundley yesterday, though in all fairness: he was facing the Vikings top-ranked defense.
Hundley was 18-of-33 passing for 157 yards, with 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions and an abysmal 39.6 passer rating in 3 1/2 quarters of relief behind an offensive line that had 3 (yes, that's right — THREE) starters leave with injuries against a rough-shod Minnesota defensive Front 7.
Perhaps a better assessment of Hundley's true (or not) talent will come in the next few weeks ahead, when Hundley gets acclimated to taking all of the first-team practice reps and has head coach Mike McCarthy install individual a game plans molded around what he does well.
The news surrounding Rodgers wasn't the only bad break that the team got this weekend, either. The Packers also announced that starting slot CB Quentin Rollins was placed on injured reserve, and his season is over as well.
The Packers now have just 3 cornerbacks remaining (which the Saints and QB Drew Brees certainly will be aware of) who appear to be healthy: Damarious Randall, Josh Hawkins, and Lenzy Pipkins.
The Packers' other 2 CB's on the roster, Davon House and rookie Kevin King; missed yesterday's game in Minnesota with injuries and remain uncertain for the game against the Saints on Sunday.
For the moment, the Packers are tied with the Vikings for the NFC North lead at 4-2; and ironically IF the season were to end today, Green Bay would actually be playing during the same opening weekend of the NFC Wild Card Playoffs, as the Saints.
If the season ended today: the Saints would be the #6th and final seed in the conference, and travel to Charlotte, North Carolina for an NFC Wild Card game; to face the Panthers.
For the Saints, it's a huge break that just a few days ago, they never thought they'd have. Though Green Bay will still likely be favored by some analysts playing at home, the Saints have actually opened as early 5 and a half point road favorites (since the Packers don't have Rodgers), by the odds-makers in Las Vegas.
Apparently this Sunday's upcoming game suddenly doesn't seem nearly as impossible for the Saints to win, as was first believed.
Those fans who were expecting to see a decisive Green Bay victory over the Saints with Rodgers under center, may now get to see New Orleans have a chance to leave the legendary "Land of Lombardi", with an unexpected 4th straight victory.
Can the Saints take advantage of the short-handed Packers in Green Bay?
In 6 more days, we're about to find out..........