Falcons and Saints enter Week 12 matchup with major questions at quarterback


When the Saints and Falcons face off in Week 12 for a pivotal NFC South showdown, it'll be back to the original plan at quarterback for Atlanta.

The Falcons will be starting second-year QB Desmond Ridder at quarterback, according to a report from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, after two weeks of backup Taylor Heinicke in the starting role.

Ridder, a third-round pick out of Cincinnatti in 2022, started the first eight games of the season for Atlanta, leading the Falcons to a 4-4 record but one that culminated in a frustrating loss to rookie Will Levis and Tennessee. Ridder was benched for veteran Taylor Heinicke the following week, which resulted in a loss to newcomer Josh Dobbs and the Vikings. Heinicke held onto the job for Week 10, but was replaced due to injury midway through a loss to the Cardinals. Ridder went 4-for-6 in the game and ran for a go-ahead touchdown in the final minutes, only for Kyler Murray to engineer a long drive for a walk-off field goal.

The Falcons now appear to be at a crossroads, sitting at 4-6 in a middling NFC South. A loss to the Saints, who sit in first place with a 5-5 record, would be a massive blow to their chances to contend for a wide-open division crown this season. The Bucs could potentially take over the division lead with a win in Week 11, though they enter as double-digit underdogs on the road against the 49ers. Both the Falcons and Saints have a Week 11 bye.

For the season Ridder has completed 161-246 passes (65.4%) for 1,740 yards, 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

Ridder's return would mark an interesting footnote in the young QB's career, coming just shy of a year after his NFL debut, also against the Saints. That game was won by New Orleans 21-18 in the Caesars Superdome, with Ridder held to just 97 yards on 13-26 passing, along with an interception.

The Saints will also be dealing with QB questions on their end of the equation, with Derek Carr entering the concussion protocol after leaving a Week 10 loss to the Vikings. The Saints will be optimistic about his ability to return with the extra time off, but his status will still be a key point to watch throughout the week. If Carr can't go it will be Jameis Winston back starting. One of the high points of Winston's tenure with the Saints was a thrilling comeback from 16 down in the 4th quarter during Week 1 of the 2022 season.

The Saints and Falcons face off in Mercedes Benz Stadium at non on Sunday, No. 26.

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