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NFL picks, Week 7: Are the Packers doomed without Aaron Rodgers?

Green Bay Packers quarterbacks Brett Hundley (left) runs with Aaron Rodgers. |Jim Mone/AP

With eight consecutive playoff appearances, including a victory in Super Bowl XLV after the 2010 season, the Packers get a lot of credit for building homegrown teams loaded with draft picks and undrafted free agents. They seem to fill every hole, with the “next man up” making them almost immune to injuries and free-agent losses. When their defense seems about to burst, they find a way to shore things up with another player acquired by general manager Ted Thompson. What an organization!

And then Aaron Rodgers gets hurt, and the Packers are like just about every other NFL team — at the mercy of the football gods.

BEST BET

Saints at Packers

Time: Noon. Line: Saints by 5½. Total: 47½.

Records (overall/ATS): Saints 3-2/3-2; Packers 4-2/3-3.

All that homegrown talent doesn’t seem to matter as much when No. 12 isn’t playing. The Packers are 2-8-1 when Rodgers doesn’t start or finish a game because of injury, including last week’s 23-10 loss to the Vikings when Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on a clean hit from linebacker Anthony Barr. That .182 winning percentage is lower than the Bears’ without Jay Cutler (7-22, .318).

The quarterback makes all the difference, obviously. But the Packers might not be doomed without Rodgers this time. Brett Hundley, a fifth-round pick in 2015, might be their best backup since Matt Hasselbeck in 1999-2000.

Hundley struggled as a sudden replacement for Rodgers against the Vikings — 18-for-33 for 157 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions for a 39.6 rating. But he has the size, arm, mobility and moxie to succeed once he gets his feet on the ground. And that might be sooner than you think.

Pick: Packers 27, Saints 21.

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