The cruel reality of the NFL is the suddenness with which a team’s fortunes can change because of injury.
Of late, every season seems to be shaken in the early-going by injuries to key players and 2023 is certainly no exception. Arguably, 2023 had the most dramatic instance of an injury changing the trajectory of not only a single team but also a much-anticipated narrative throughout the league when new Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered an Achilles injury on his first regular-season offensive series as a Jet, likely ending his season (although there’s been thin hope offered that he might recover in time for the playoffs, if that were even to be a reality for New York).
Those who used NFL betting promos on New York when Rodgers arrived where dismayed when Jets Super Bowl odds fell from +1600 to +6000 immediately after his injury.
However, Rodgers isn’t the only major injury that may change the fate of an NFL franchise this early in the 2023 campaign. Here are some of the injuries — just two games into the season — that could have the most adverse impacts on NFL teams.
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New York Jets, QB Aaron Rodgers, Achilles
Enough has been said about the Rodgers injury and what it has done and will likely do to the Jets’ chances to break out of their long-running role as an NFL also-ran. Another storyline is that former first-round pick QB Zach Wilson’s career will be made or broken in this sudden turn-of-events. BetMGM Sportsbook lists Wilson as +15000 to rally the Jets and win Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player.
Cleveland Browns, RB Nick Chubb, Knee
Some considered Nick Chubb the best running back in the NFL going into 2023 and just what quarterback Deshaun Watson needed to keep the Browns in the playoff hunt. Chubb’s season-ending knee injury on Monday Night Football dooms Cleveland to another very Cleveland-like season, although Caesars Sportsbook still has the Browns in the top 10 in Super Bowl odds at +2800, tied with Jacksonville, New Orleans and the L.A. Chargers.
New York Giants, RB Saquon Barkley, Ankle
It remains to be seen how long Giants’ running back Saquon Barkley’s ankle injury will keep him out. New York has its fingers crossed it’ll be just two or three weeks. However, even three weeks may be too long in the tough NFC East with Philadelphia and Dallas piling up wins.
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Cincinnati Bengals, QB Joe Burrow, Calf
Can he? Should he? Play, that is, with the injury that’s nagged him since the preseason. A calf injury may not sound like a major problem but anything that hobbles a quarterback’s mobility threatens his very survival in the NFL. The Bengals are already 0-2 and without Burrow, they can write off catching Baltimore in the AFC North, especially considering the Bengals already have a home loss to the Ravens. Mobile sports betting apps list Cincinnati at +2000 to win the Super Bowl, while Burrow is ninth in MVP odds.
Indianapolis Colts, QB Anthony Richardson, Concussion
Richardson is in concussion protocol, and given the well-deserved heightened attention to head injuries, he may be a scratch for Sunday’s game against Baltimore, especially since the Colts have battle-tested veteran backup in Gardner Minshew. However, Richardson’s hyper-aggressive running style does not bode well if he continues in that manner and, in turn, that does not bode well for the Colts overall.
Detroit Lions, S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Pectoral
Gardner-Johnson has the ability to be a defender that upends games. He was an off-season free agent signing off the Philadelphia roster. The Lions appear to be the class of a mediocre NFC North and should be able to win the division without their prize defensive free agent, but pec injuries are longer-term, and the Lions lose some potential big defensive plays without him.
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Detroit Lions, RB David Montgomery, Thigh
Montgomery’s injury, like the Giants’ Barkley, does not appear to be a season-ender, but he was signed as a free agent to be Detroit’s workhorse running back. Individually, neither the loss of Gardner-Johnson nor Montgomery kills the Lions’ season and even together, their absences are not fatal to the season, but that’s mainly because the NFC North is so weak. Legal online sportsbooks have the Lions tied for eighth in Super Bowl futures at +2000 with Cincinnati.
Baltimore Ravens, RB J.K. Dobbins, Achilles
The hard-luck running back was expected to be the Ravens’ No. 1 back. Baltimore can weather the injury because of a deeper bench at the position and because quarterback Lamar Jackson has been, in practice, the team’s leading rusher.
L.A. Rams, WR Cooper Kupp, Hamstring
Kupp’s hamstring injury has kept him out of action since the preseason, and he’s been on injured reserve with an ETA of Week 5. Without Kupp, the Rams were expected to have few weapons, and they were written off. Then, rookie receiver Puka Nacua showed up with an incredible 25 catches for 266 yards in the first two games of the season. If Kupp can return to form and Nacua is not a mirage, perhaps the Rams can make a credible playoff run.
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Bill Ordine was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years. He covered the World Series of Poker for a decade and his articles on gaming have appeared in many major U.S. newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald and others.