Key injuries can derail any team's efforts to have a successful season, much less winning a divisional title in the NFL. Case in point are the 2010 Packers. The Packers ended up placing 15 players on injured reserve that season, and the team barely made the playoffs with a 10-6 record.
The Packers were the 6th seed as a matter of fact. And it took a couple of strange circumstances for that to even happen.
Circumstances like DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles returning a punt for a touchdown on the last play of the game to defeat the New York Giants.
Or having a touchdown pass caught by Kellen Winslow of the Tampa Bay Bucs nullified by an offensive pass interference call that would have won the game against the Detroit Lions. The NFL later said that the call against Winslow was incorrect.
Had the Giants or Bucs won those games, either team would have won the sixth and final spot in the NFC playoffs, and the Packers would have been on the outside looking in. And winning Super Bowl XLV would had never materialized.
Bottom line, it's always easier to advance to the playoffs by winning a division.
The Packers have their work cut out for them to do that, and the NFL season is just six weeks old. The injury situation is a big reason why the Packers have had issues in 2012.
Already the team has had to place key players like starting inside linebacker Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith (his replacement) on IR. The Packers also had to place running back Brandon Saine on IR. All suffered the dreaded ACL knee injury.
The Packers also placed running back Cedric Benson (foot) on injured reserve after Week 5, but he is eligible to return eight weeks after his placement, under a new NFL rule.
In addition to that, the team placed three players on the PUP list (Physically Unable to Perform). They are tight end Andrew Quarless (knee), linebacker Frank Zombo (hamstring) and offensive tackle Derek Sherrod (broken leg). All three are now eligible to practice now with the team, and Quarless and Zombo are indeed doing just that. Sherrod has not yet started practicing.
The team can activate any of those players once they have become physically ready for the rigors of a NFL season.
The Packers have also had lingering injury issues with some of their best players. Starting wide receiver Greg Jennings has been hampered with a groin injury and will not play again until he is completely healthy.
There are others like cornerback Davon House, who was the starting right cornerback, when he suffered a shoulder injury in the first preseason game. House still hasn't returned to the playing field, but the Packers think he is close to returning.
Other key players that have been hampered by injuries include nose tackle B.J. Raji (ankle), outside linebacker Nick Perry (knee) and cornerback Sam Shields (shin).
The Packers can't afford to have the injury situation to become an epidemic, if they expect to win the NFC North. And they certainly can't afford to lose a player of quarterback Aaron Rodger's caliber. That would pretty much doom the 2012 season, if the Packers ever lost the 2011 NFL MVP.