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Falcons starting Desmond Ridder, not Taylor Heinicke, at QB vs. Saints

We’ll file this one under “mildly surprising.” The Atlanta Falcons are starting quarterback Desmond Ridder after waffling between him and Taylor Heinicke all week going into Sunday’s finale with the New Orleans Saints. Ridder had been benched for poor performance but Heinicke’s ankle injury prevented him from being able to go in Week 18. The Falcons are 6-6 in games Ridder has started this season while going 1-3 with Heinicke.

Ridder is 1-1 against New Orleans in his career, having posted passing lines of 13-for-26 for 97 yards in last year’s loss and 13-for-21 for 168 yards (with a touchdown pass and two interceptions) in a win earlier this season. He’s ran 13 times to gain 68 yards but the Saints have sacked him 4 times.

Can he make a big difference on Sunday? Maybe, maybe not. The Saints have done a good job guarding him before. The problem is that they didn’t have much of an answer for the Falcons running game. Atlanta ran all over them in their last meeting, putting up 228 rushing yards as a team, and Dennis Allen’s defense must prove it can hold up against a determined assault on the ground.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire