Week six of the 2017 NFL season is in the books — and the injury bug continues to plague the NFL.
Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) and J.J. Watt (tibial fracture) suffered their fate last week, as both stars' seasons came to an abrupt end. This week, arguably the league’s biggest star, Aaron Rodgers was injured.
As Rodgers rolled out to his right, he was greeted by Vikings two-time Pro Bowl linebacker, Anthony Barr. Barr drove the crown of his helmet into the left-shoulder pad of Rodgers. Barr continued driving Rodgers into the ground, as the right-throwing shoulder of Rodgers broke the fall, Barr landed on top of the Pro Bowl quarterback, adding insult to injury.
The hit was legal, but the fate was detrimental — as it resulted in a broken collarbone for the Green Bay Packers-star quarterback.
With the national conversation of the NFL diverging from football, the talk surrounding the sport has strayed into a political realm that has dominated headlines — and turned fans away from the sport. In the midst of controversy, stars such as Rodgers, Tom Brady, Watt and Odell Beckham Jr. have kept the sport afloat, appealing to its viewers.
With three of the league’s biggest stars out, the league will rely on parity, hoping unpredictability can keep eyes glued to their product.
Some of the parody that will dominate headlines for weeks to come was evident on Sunday.
Of the twelve games played on Sunday, only five teams who were favored to win, actually won. The Dolphins, Bears, Cardinals, Rams, Steelers and Giants — were able to pull off upset wins, laying the template for the parity to come in upcoming weeks.
Coming into the season, two things were for sure; the Patriots would dominate the AFC and the Packers and Falcons would go head-to-head in the NFC. Through week six, the Patriots cling to a narrow lead in the AFC East at 4-2, with the Bills eagerly awaiting their shot.
The Packers are tied with the Vikings at 4-2 in the NFC North. With Rodgers sidelined, the Vikings look poised to run away with the division.
The Atlanta Falcons opened the 2017 NFL season with a chip on their shoulder after their epic Super Bowl collapse. The Falcons started 3-0, but have since lost back-to-back games to the Bills and Dolphins, both games Atlanta was favored in.
So, what did we learn in week 6?
1. The New Orleans Saints-Adrian Peterson breakup was mutually beneficial
The once great Adrian Peterson showed flashes of his former self on Sunday afternoon. Peterson rushed for 134 yards on 26 carries, cashing in for two scores — all of which were season highs for the eleven-year pro. Peterson can finally put back on that bright-white smile that has made him so appealing to his fans.
The tension between Peterson and the Saints was no secret. After signing a two-year, $7 million contract with New Orleans in the offseason, it became evident that Peterson would struggle to find a role with a pass-happy team that has featured two running backs this season; Mark Ingram and a rookie with promise, Alvin Kamara.
With Peterson taking his talents to Arizona, the Saints put their dual-threat run game to work. Ingram carried the ball 25 times for 114 yards and two scores, while Kamara continued to impress; carrying the ball 10 times for 74 yards in the Saints 52-38 victory over the Lions.
With a weight lifted off the shoulders of Peterson and the Saints, the team and running back can take the next steps in putting together a successful 2017 campaign.
2. Joe Flacco is not elite
The age-old debate that seems to get better in time, like a glass of fine wine. Not too many people, however, are drinking the Joe Flacco Kool-Aid anymore.
The question of Flacco as an elite quarterback has served many comical jokes over the course of his ten-year career as quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens. The question was a legitimate quarrel for years — especially after Flacco led the Ravens to a Super-bowl win in 2013.
Flacco is posting a quarterback passer rating of just 66.1 in 2017. His passer rating has declined every year since the Ravens super-bowl win in 2013.
Flacco is yet to throw for over 250 yards in a game this year. It comes as no surprise that his best performance of the year came against the winless-Browns. In a game against Jacksonville earlier this season, Flacco threw for just 28 yards, posting a career-low passer rating of just 12.0.
To put that into perspective, the average passer rating of an NFL quarterback last season was 89.0. Flacco is 23 points below that mark this year.
He is without a touchdown pass in three of the six Ravens games this season. He added to that list on Sunday with a 180 yard, zero touchdown, two interception game. And a passer rating of 48.8, in a loss to the Chicago Bears.
The debate is over. Flacco is not elite.