NFL Betting — Rookie Ridder hopes to add spark to Falcons vs. Saints

Atlanta Falcons Football Nfl Betting

The Falcons Look to Turn the Page and Keep the Saints out of the Playoff Picture in NFL Action

By Charles Jay

One of the most underrated rivalries in the NFL is renewed today as the Atlanta Falcons visit the New Orleans Saints. The last time BetAnySports customers saw them on the field, the Atlanta Falcons looked somewhat anemic on the offensive side of the ball, and as they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, they had effectively played themselves out of any wildcard hopes.

Their high water mark may have been an overtime victory over the Carolina Panthers which they achieved by pure luck more than anything else, when Carolina receiver DJ Moore took his helmet off on the field after tying the game with a last-second touchdown, getting flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and making the extra point so long that the Panthers missed it. The game went into overtime, and the Falcons got a field goal and the win.

Okay, we took the long way around, but the point we wanted to make is that Atlanta was at the top of an NFC South division that has been found wanting, for the most part. With four losses in their last five games, the Falcons are 5-8 and, as we alluded to, more or less out of the wildcard race, although the incredible thing is that they are just one game out of the division lead and they still have a game to play against the leaders, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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NFL Betting — Okay, so they’re not out of it. So what’s changing?

But this offense has been sporadic at best. On six different occasions the Falcons have been under 300 total yards. And only three times have they had more than 200 passing yards. After only 16 points against the Steelers, head coach Arthur Smith made assurances that changes were going to be made.

He has made one of those changes; something that was not by any means unexpected but a decision that was met with some unexpected reaction.

Smith benched Marcus Mariota, who was never meant to be much more than a placeholder after the trade of Matt Ryan. And he has replaced him with Desmond Ridder, a rookie who took Cincinnati into last year’s College Football Playoff and was taken in the third round, The possibility was entertained that he could be Atlanta’s quarterback of the future.

And I guess we’ll find out whether that future begins with a bang on Sunday afternoon as the Falcons visit the New Orleans Saints in a renewal of one of the NFL’s most heated rivalries (1 PM ET kickoff at the Superdome in the Crescent City).

NFL Betting — Here are the numbers…..

In the NFL betting odds that have been posted by the people at BetAnySports, the Saints are favored:

New Orleans Saints -4
Atlanta Falcons +4

Over 43.5 Points -110
Under 43.5 Points -110

NFL Betting — And then the weirdness started

On the day after Smith told Mariota that he was being benched, the former Heisman Trophy winner left the team. And believe us when we tell you, if there was a simple explanation, the Falcons would have offered it. There was word that he was going home to witness the birth of a child, but that was inaccurate.

Smith indicated that having conversations like the one he had with Mariota weren’t easy, but  that “You try to be truthful, whether they agree or not, those are the conversations you have to have.”

That’s a different situation than the story that came out later, which was that Mariota was going to have knee surgery after the season and was placed on injured reserve. You have to designate an injury to “shut down” a player like that, and they found one, describing it as “chronic” although Mariota reportedly has not shown up on an injury report related to his knee since 2015.

And so the questions have been asked as to whether the team has been concealing his injury, which has ramifications for people who wager on games.

So you see, this whole thing leads to endless complications.

Mariota is the only player who has thrown a pass for Atlanta this season. And his numbers are modest, with 2219 yards, 156 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

NFL Betting — So what works for this offense? And what doesn’t?

One comes away with the impression that Atlanta’s receivers haven’t been utilized to their fullest. Drake London, a talented youngster, has averaged only 11.3 yards per reception. And Kyle Pitts (who’s out of action) looks like a wasted draft choice from his degree of use (or lack of use, as it were).

This offense has clearly looked best when it’s able to run the ball, and for much of the year they have done a pretty decent job of driving opposing defensive lines backward. In fact, they are third in the NFL in Adjusted Line Yards, according to the analytics folks at Football Outsiders, and they are hardly ever “stuffed.’ The Falcons have run the ball 56% of the time, and only the Chicago Bears have done it more frequently. And they’re fourth in the league in yards per game.

NFL Betting — So what does Ridder bring?

One thing you’ve got to say about Mariota is that he tried to stretch out defenses. His 10.4 Intended Air Yards per attempt are the highest in the NFL. We don’t know if Ridder is going to try to do that. So one can expect the Falcons to focus on what they do best.

The book on Ridder before the draft is that he has a strong arm, but not a real quick release. And he’ll have to develop some instincts, which were not considered his strength in college.

He is mobile and can extend plays. And that is a plus. But we wonder if he is an immediate upgrade in the passing game. He hasn’t taken a snap yet. And he’s making his debut in what will be a very loud Superdome. I’d lay the points here.

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Dirty has been an employee or owner of some of the top online sports gambling forums since 1998. He worked at EOG.com from it's inception until 2008 when he left and opened GamblingIQ and then in 2012 opened Handicappers Hidaway. He has written hundreds af articles over the years and always has his "Dirty Dozen" College Football poll up starting the first week of October.
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