NEW ORLEANS We begin with the premise that first-time starter Brett Hundley is not Aaron Rodgers. Therefore, the Green Bay Packers will be at a distinct disadvantage at quarterback Sunday against the born-again New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.
That irrefutable assertion seems reasonable enough since we all know there is only one Aaron Rodgers.
In fact, the mere idea that Hundley could lead Green Bay to an upset victory is nothing more than highly partisan Packers fans taking a Lambeau Leap of faith.
Don’t bet on it. And I mean that literally.
Do not be influenced by a national betting line that moved 12 points in the ensuing hours after Rodgers suffered a broken right collarbone against Minnesota. The dramatic reversal in the point spread simply reflects the amount of money placed on one team over the other largely because of the name change under center.
This game is not about the Packers’ offense led by Hundley going against a young, fearless Saints defense brimming with confidence. Granted, Dennis’ Menaces under Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen are playing well but three games are hardly a valid litmus test.
This game will come down to how well the Packers’ injury-riddled defense stands up to future Saints Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees and his passel of playmakers.
If the Packers D can’t contain the Saints O -- that is get off the field on third down, control time of possession, contain running backs Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara and produce takeaways -- then Green Bay won’t have a puncher’s chance.
To me, the Packers’ D is the X factor, not Hundley, a third-year player taken in the fifth round of the 2015 draft from UCLA who played three seasons for Bruins’ Coach Jim Mora, son of the former Saints coach with the same name.
Hundley, 24, can ball.
“He’s no Aaron Rodgers but he’s a good athete, with a good arm who can run and he’s smart,’’ said Big Jim Mora, who watched Hundley play up close and personal numerous times in college while following the Bruins. “He’ll prepare well and I don’t think the moment will be too big for him.
“He can beat you running the football, too. He’ll take off and go and get you a first down when you need it and the Saints will have to be aware of that.’’
That said, Mora likes the Saints chances to improve to 4-2.
“Look, this isn’t like Ohio State playing Rutgers,’’ Mora said. “There are no easy wins in the NFL. Everybody in the NFL is good. I don’t care if the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers haven’t won a game, you take them lightly and you’ll get your pants beat. I don’t think the Saints will take the Packers lightly.’’
That would be a mistake regardless what the spread says.
Brian Allee-Walsh is a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.