How things change.
The Green Bay Packers came into Monday Night atop the division. Not only that, but they were clearly the best team. Their point differential was at +54. They were playing the No. 2 team in the division, the Chicago Bears, so it was an important game but they were expected to win. The Bears were a game behind but missing their starting quarterback and clearly the lesser of the two teams (the Bears had point differential of just +7). The Packers were giving up eight points and still seemed like the better bet. It was not a question of if the Packers would make the playoffs but what seed they would get.
Then Aaron Rodgers went down.
Rodgers took a tough hit and landed on his non-throwing shoulder in the first quarter. He has a small fracture in his collarbone and will be out at least three weeks. The Packers went on to lose the game and sole possession of first place in the division.
Now making the playoffs would be a relief. The Packers are tied with the Detroit Lions, Bears and Carolina Panthers as of today. Two of those four teams will likely make the playoffs, but if Rodgers misses a lot of time the Packers might be the least likely of the four to make it.
Luckily for Green Bay the next few weeks have winnable games. The Packers actually only play two serious contenders from here to the end of the season (the Bears and Lions), so that may be their saving grace. Of the last eight games the Packers play five teams that have losing records, and the mediocre Dallas Cowboys are the only team with a winning record left besides the Bears and Lions.
The Packers can certainly tread water in the next three weeks against bad teams with Rodgers out. If he misses more time, though, the playoffs could be out of reach for the Packers.