The Atlanta Falcons will finally start rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder on Sunday a move the team should have made weeks ago. Despite the late move Atlanta has set Ridder up for a possible epic debut if the rookie is able to continue the momentum he started in Atlanta’s preseason action.
A win would cement the Falcons’ winning record against the Saints for at least another year and keep them at worst a game behind Tampa for the division lead. If Ridder can lead the Falcons to a victory over the Saints he will endear himself to Atlanta’s fanbase instantly with no rival hated more than New Orleans.
Ridder and the Falcons will have an edge in this game if the rookie can protect the football and make the easy throws Mariota has been missing over the past five weeks. New Orleans is continuing to start Andy Dalton who has struggled with turnovers and consistency.
Everything about this game favors Atlanta is Ridder is able to deliver even a subpar performance at the quarterback position. Atlanta’s run game, coaching staff, and sense of urgency are all clear advantages over the Saints.
New Orleans season is over and despite the rivalry, there is far more urgency for Atlanta. Arthur Smith’s Falcons are too well-coached to drop another winnable game against a bad Saints team.
Final score prediction: Atlanta Falcons-27 New Orleans Saints-24
The Falcons’ defense is the one concern considering the unit seems to have gotten worse throughout the season struggling to stop below average quarterbacks a description that fits Andy Dalton.
However, New Orleans’ poor coaching and Atlanta’s ability to control the clock with the run game are going to be the difference here. Ridder finishes the game with a late drive and the Falcons win on a Younghoe Koo walk off field goal.