The Atlanta Falcons have decided to roll with Desmond Ridder at quarterback moving forward. The talk about Ridder becoming the quarterback has been quieter than I initially thought, but he was easily the best rookie quarterback during the preseason.
The Falcons are 5-8 on the season but are still technically in the playoff race. The Saints are just 4-9 and now will look to tie the Falcons in the NFC South.
A Falcons loss would throw them out of playoff contention with the Saints, but there’s reason to believe in Atlanta going up against a divisional opponent. Let me explain. I’m warning you right now so you can take advantage at the best sportsbooks.
Sunday, December 18, 2022 – 01:00 PM EST at Caesars Superdome
How Will Desmond Ridder Play?
The Atlanta offense has only earned 329.6 yards per game but still scored 22.2 points per game. The Falcons have been efficient despite the lack of yards per game.
The Falcons won’t have Kyle Pitts, but Drake London, who was also drafted high in the 2022 Draft, will be the main target for Desmond Ridder.
When the Falcons put together their draft board, the expectation was for Ridder and London to be that battery for the offense. Those two will get that opportunity along with another rookie in Tyler Allgeier, who has rushed for over 600 yards in his rookie season.
The Falcons drafted well this season. It’s already shown. When Drake London gets the ball thrown his way, he’s made some big plays. When Allgeier receives the ball, he’s done some good things. And we saw Ridder in the preseason and noticed how good he could be in the league.
The Saints have allowed nearly 350 yards per game and 22.8 points per game. The defense has been awful in the tackling department and isn’t great against the run. The pass rush is solid, but Ridder’s got young legs and enough poise and awareness in the pocket.
Ridder could jump out onto the scene as Brock Purdy did for the Niners.
Have the Saints Given Up?
No team has given up in the NFL. clearly. Still, the Saints have added close to 360 yards per game but have only scored 20.4 points per game. The execution isn’t perfect for the Saints, who have had their injuries this year.
Although the Falcons have lost four of their last five games, in their previous two losses, the Falcons’ defense only allowed 19 points. If Atlanta’s offense can finally click with Ridder, the defense could see improvements to finish off the season.
On offense, the Saints have a poor pass protection unit and even worse in the run game. Alvin Kamara hasn’t broken out this year, and the Saints elected to continue to roll with Andy Dalton, despite the lack of production at quarterback.
The Saints have Jameis Winston available but haven’t made the switch back to their original starting quarterback.
New Orleans has scored 16 or fewer points in their last four losses. The offense is inept with actual quality players on the field. I’ve lost faith in this offensive group and like the improvements out of the Atlanta defense.
Following the NFL odds, the Falcons are an attractive bet on Sunday. Even if Marcus Mariota played, I’d consider taking the Falcons on the road against a Saints’ offense that has just looked lost over the last month.
But with the addition of Ridder, the Falcons should be able to execute better offensively and gain more yards. Mariota didn’t play that poorly, but 15 touchdowns to nine interceptions are never that great. Sure, he made plays with his feet, but a young Desmond Ridder can also do that.
Ridder has plenty of weapons on his side. Mariota didn’t use those weapons enough. Maybe that’s on the offensive coordinator. Perhaps that was always the plan for Mariota, but by limiting Mariota, they still couldn’t limit the turnovers.
Therefore, I like the Falcons a whole lot more on Sunday now.
The Saints and Falcons were trending in bad directions in this game. The Falcons made a change. The Saints didn’t.
The Falcons still want to win and find a way into the playoffs, even if it’s mathematically hard. The Saints don’t care, especially on the offensive end.
Sure, the Saints have dealt with injuries, but every team has. The offense is just completely lost. Atlanta’s offense will get back on track.
That’s my warning to you.
NFL Pick: Falcons ML (+175) at Caesars Sportsbook