2013 NFL: Calvin Johnson has the most to benefit from Aaron Rodgers’ injury

Fineartamerica
Fineartamerica

When a star player suffers an injury that appears to be severe, a range of emotions will emerge across the sports landscape. If the guy is the focal point of your fantasy team, you’ll likely throw something across the room, or ask why does this have to happen to me?

If you’re a diehard fan of the team (or player), you’ll likely feel some sort of nausea mixed with the feeling of when your family pet died.

The focus of the impending news on the player will circle around the length of the injury, the backup who will replace the star player and the media’s personal favorite, how the team move on without their leader.

A discussion that is rarely had after someone goes down for a couple of weeks is who, besides the backup player, will benefit from this injury. It sounds sadistic, but it should be fair game to talk about. At some point in every sport across the world a team’s destiny has changed because an opponent lost a key member of their team due to an injury.

When the news spread that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had suffered a collarbone injury, the first discussion to have was the amount of time he would miss (NFL Twitter king Adam Schefter is reporting three weeks).

The next discussion that needed to happen focused on the current state of the NFC North. After last night’s loss to the Bears, the Packers fell into a three way tie for the division lead with the Bears and the Lions. In the span of about six hours, the Packers went from being the favorite in the division to looking forward to three weeks of Seneca Wallace, while the Bears welcomed the news of a potential Jay Cutler return and the Lions sat at home getting a much needed bye.

It’s easy to say the injury to Rodgers benefits the Bears and the Lions, but this injury could have a major impact on one of the offensive awards that’s handed out at the end of the season.

Peyton Manning might as well be given the MVP trophy right now. Barring a season ending injury next week, nothing is going to stop Manning from taking home his fifth most valuable player of the year award, but the race for the offensive player of the year award is far more interesting.

Thanks to the air raid style of play that has come to define this era of not only the NFL, but Detroit Lions football Calvin Johnson has the most to gain (personally) from the injury to Rodgers.

Again this sound sadistic, but hang with me here. If the Lions can get by the Bears next week and take care of business in Pittsburgh, only a Thanksgiving battle against the Packers stands in the way of a cupcake final month to the regular season (@ Eagles, Ravens, Giants, @ Vikings). That’s a schedule a potential playoff team should be able to handle.

The most influential player of a team that bounces back from a 4-12 record to the playoffs a year later should be rewarded in some fashion. If that player is clearly the best player at his position and adds a historical context to his season, then he is deserving of one of the two offensive trophies at the end of the season.

Megatron is currently on pace for 100 receptions, 1,759 yards and 15 touchdowns. The receptions and yardage is a drop off from last year’s historical campaign, but that was a lost season for the Lions. The addition of Reggie Bush in the offseason gave the offense the extra dimension it needs to be a dangerous force, but we’ve seen what the offense looks like when Bush has to be the focal point without Calvin Johnson and it isn’t pretty.

If Johnson finishes at his current pace, he’ll finish with the fourth most receiving yards in a single season. If he recreates his magic from Weeks 10-17 of last season (62 catches, 990 yards), he’ll finish as only the third receiver in the history of the league to record over 1,800 yards in a season.

The key for Johnson winning the OPOY award is a division championship. Adrian Peterson won the MVP because he had a historically great season at a position that was no longer viewed as the focal point of an offense. Johnson would have to top his record setting numbers from last season to win the OPOY if the Lions grab one of the two wild card slots. If he stays at his current pace and the Lions don’t win the division, expect Drew Brees to bring home the award.

Sure the debate revolving around what the word valuable means in the situation of Manning vs. Johnson will likely take place to fill time at the end of the season, but there is only one side worth of taking in that discussion and frankly the only reason I decided this was worthy of writing about was due to an injury.

Maybe I’m the one that is sadistic.

Follow me on Twitter @Scottdargis

Something that didn’t fit into the column: I’m totally up for making the offensive player of the year award the non-QB MVP award, unless of course a player has the type of year Adrian Peterson had last year, but really, how many times is that going to happen in our lifetime? Maybe twice with the current product the NFL is rolling out right now.

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