Injuries happen every year in the NFL. However, this year, there seems to be more high impact and devastating injuries than in normal years.
Sunday, the season came to end, and potentially the beginning of next year, for MVP candidate Carson Wentz. His ACL tore when he was hit in the legs while diving across the goal line on a play that didn’t count because of a holding penalty.
So many of the injuries this season have come on seemingly innocuous plays. They have come on normal tackles, low-impact or non-contact plays, simply landing from a jump or in practice.
Here are the most devastating injuries so far this season.
#1 Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (broken collarbone)
The landscape of the entire NFC changed when Rodgers broke his right collarbone in Week 6. The Green Bay Packers were widely considered one of the favorites to participate in the Super Bowl. They had a 4-1 record and had some momentum with good play from everyone around Rodgers. It was not just Rodgers’ team at the time.
It all changed in one tackle. Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr landed on the quarterback causing the broken bone. Immediate speculation included reports that Rodgers’ season may have been over.
It appears as though he will return either this week or next, but their playoff hopes are on life support. With Brett Hundley leading the team, they have gone 3-5 (including the loss to the Vikings in which Rodgers was hurt) and are one loss or Vikings win away from being eliminated from the division race.
Additionally, the three wins have come against the worst team in three different divisions. They beat the NFC North cellar-dweller Chicago Bears by a touchdown in Week 10. Then the last two weeks, the Packers beat the NFC South last-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the winless AFC North bottom-feeder Cleveland Browns, both in overtime.
A loss to the Carolina Panthers and an Atlanta Falcons win over the Buccaneers on Monday would eliminate them from the postseason.
#2 Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans (torn ACL)
When Watson tore his ACL in practice on Nov. 2, his season ended and so did the Houston Texans’. The rookie first-round draft pick was burning up the league and had just thrown for 402 yards and four touchdowns while running for 67 yards against the Seattle Seahawks in the Pacific northwest.
He was the favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and likely will still be one of the top nominees, despite the injury.
As for the Texans, they were still below .500 when Watson went down, but have lost five of six since and have completely falling off the map. They are headed toward a top-five draft pick, which will go to the Cleveland Browns as part of the trade the Texans made to move up for Watson.
#3 J.J. Watt, Houston Texans (broken leg)
It didn’t end their season like it did when the Texans lost Watson, but Watt’s tibial plateau fracture made it really difficult. What makes Watt’s injury so devastating is that it is the second straight season his year has ended before the midway point.
Last season, he suffered a back injury that cost him the last 13 games of the year. The question has to be raised, is this the beginning of the end for the former defensive player of the year?
#4 Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles (torn ACL)
Because it just happened, it is hard to tell exactly what impact this will have on the Philadelphia Eagles the rest of the season. He had garnered MVP consideration through 14 weeks of the season. The Eagles will now turn to veteran Nick Foles against the New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys as well as a playoff game or two or three.
Foles has a history of occasional good play in the NFL but also has not done it consistently enough to think they are the favorites to win the NFC anymore. A lot will be determined in the next three weeks on how the Eagles finish the season.
#5 Zach Miller, Chicago Bears (dislocated knee)
When the Bears lost Miller in Week 8, they didn’t lose their season. He is a talented and worthy starting tight-end, but the Bears can overcome not having him in the lineup.
Off the field, there has been no injury more devastating than Miller’s. His knee went sideways when landing while trying to make a catch in the end zone against the New Orleans Saints at the midway point of the season.
The official diagnosis was a torn popliteal artery. He recently told ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson that amputation was a “very real” possibility. Injuries have been a part of Miller’s career, including a foot fracture that ended his season a year ago. He has missed games for concussions on four separate occasions, a plantar fascia tear and hamstring issue.
He has not talked his future in football, but after eight surgeries on his knee has a long way to go to get back to normal life. It is hard to imagine the 33-year-old will ever play an NFL game again, but he wants to wait until he is normal again before making that decision.
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