NEW ORLEANS — The Atlanta Falcons are hanging on in the NFC South race as they look to avenge a season-opening loss to the Saints in a Week 15 clash in New Orleans.
The Falcons are expected to give rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder his first NFL start in the Superdome. Both teams had a bye last weekend.
The Saints are trying to snap a two-game skid and win for just the second time in six games. Ridder’s maiden start comes against a Saints defense which ranks 11th in the NFL and has played well the past several weeks.
But the Saints have struggled at times against mobile QBs and Ridder was a good scrambler in college at Cincinnati.
ATLANTA (5-8) at NEW ORLEANS (4-9)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, FOX
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Saints by 4 1/2
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Falcons 7-6; Saints 5-8.
SERIES RECORD: Falcons lead 54-53.
LAST MEETING: Saints beat Falcons 27-26 on Sept. 11 in Atlanta.
LAST WEEK: Falcons had bye, lost to Steelers 19-16 on Dec. 4; Saints had bye, lost to Buccaneers 17-16 on Dec. 5.
FALCONS OFFENSE: OVERALL (28), RUSH (4), PASS (31), SCORING (16)
FALCONS DEFENSE: OVERALL (30), RUSH (25), PASS (27), SCORING (t22)
SAINTS OFFENSE: OVERALL (16), RUSH (22), PASS (11), SCORING (21)
SAINTS DEFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (19), PASS (10), SCORING (t16)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Falcons plus-2; Saints minus-12.
FALCONS PLAYER TO WATCH: DT Grady Jarrett, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has made the Falcons feel good about giving him a $51 million, three-year contract extension before the season. The deal carries through the 2025 season. Jarrett leads the Falcons with 5½ sacks, 13 quarterback hits and 10 tackles for losses.
SAINTS PLAYER TO WATCH: Rookie WR Chris Olave leads the team in yards receiving 887 and has three touchdown catches.
KEY MATCHUP: Falcons rookie QB Desmond Ridder, an adept scrambler who can throw on the run, against the Saints defensive front. Ridder is making his first NFL start against an experienced Saints defense which has played well lately, but which also has struggled against mobile QBs.
KEY INJURIES: Atlanta LG Elijah Wilkinson (knee) returned to practice on Wednesday and barring a setback is expected to start. … C Matt Hennessy (knee) was designated to return from IR on Monday. … OL Chuma Edoga (knee) is considered questionable. … Saints RB Mark Ingram (knee) went on injured reserve this week. … S P.J. Williams has missed practice with a knee injury. … LB Zack Baun has an ankle injury. … CB Marshon Lattimore has missed eight straight games with an abdomen injury and has been limited in practice this week.
SERIES NOTES: The Saints have won the past two meetings, but the Falcons won the previous time they played in New Orleans.
STATS AND STUFF: Ridder was selected in the third round (No. 74 overall) of the draft out of Cincinnati. … RB Cordarrelle Patterson needs 53 yards rushing for a single-season career-high (618 in 2021). Patterson had 136 scrimmage yards (120 rushing, 16 receiving) and a TD rushing in the Week 1 meeting with New Orleans. … Rookie RB Tyler Allgeier has 604 yards rushing in 2022 and can surpass Jerious Norwood (633 rush yards in 2006) for second most by a Falcons rookie. … Rookie WR Drake London has a team-high six receptions for a career-high 95 yards in Week 13. London caught five passes for 74 yards in the previous meeting. … Jarrett had 1 1/2 sacks in the Week 1 game. Jarrett has at least five sacks in a season for the third time in his career. … LB Rashaan Evans led Atlanta with a career-high 15 tackles in Week 13 and has nine games with at least 10 tackles this season, which is tied for the most in NFL. Evans has a career-high 134 tackles this season. Evans recovered a fumble in the previous meeting. … LB Mykal Walker has his first career 100-tackle season (101) in 2022. He had two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble in the previous meeting. … Saints QB Andy Dalton completed 20 of 28 passes (71.4%) for 229 yards and a TD without an interception in Week 13. … RB Alvin Kamara has 51 receptions, his fifth-career 50-catch season. Kamara has 983 scrimmage yards (550 rushing, 433 receiving) and needs 17 more for his sixth-straight 1,000-yard season from scrimmage since entering the NFL in 2017. Kamara has been held below 100 scrimmage yards in five straight games. … Olave had 65 yards receiving in Week 13. He leads all rookies with 887 yards receiving and can become the third New Orleans rookie (along with Marques Colston and Michael Thomas) with 1,000 yards receiving. … DE Cameron Jordan had his 14th career forced fumble in Week 13. He has 5 1/2 sacks in 2022 and can become the sixth player since 1982 with at least seven sacks in 11 straight seasons. Jordan has 23 sacks in 23 games vs. Atlanta. … LB Demario Davis had his third career interception in Week 13. Davis has a career-high 6 1/2 sacks in 2022. He needs one more tackle for loss to reach at least 10 for a sixth straight season. … S Tyrann Mathieu had a fumble recovery in Week 1. … S Marcus Maye led New Orleans with 11 tackles in Week 13. Maye had nine tackles and a fumble recovery in the previous meeting.
FANTASY TIP: Taysom Hill’s seven total touchdowns — five rushing and two receiving — lead the team. He also has passed for a TD this season. Hill rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown in the previous meeting with Atlanta this season.