Cards turn to David Blough at QB against Ridder, Falcons
ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals will start David Blough at quarterback against rookie Desmond Ridder and the Atlanta Falcons. Blough is Arizona’s fourth starting in four weeks. The Falcons will try to end a four-game losing streak. Both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention. Ridder is making his third start as he continues to audition for the job in 2023 following the benching of veteran Marcus Mariota. No matter who has started at quarterback, the Falcons have leaned on a running game led by rookie Tyler Allgeier. The Cardinals lost starter Kyler Murray to a season-ending knee injury on Dec. 12.
ARIZONA (4-11) at ATLANTA (5-10)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, Fox
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Falcons by 3.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Cardinals 7-8; Falcons 8-7
SERIES RECORD: Cardinals lead 17-15.
LAST MEETING: Cardinals beat Falcons 34-33 on Oct. 13, 2019, at Arizona.
LAST WEEK: Cardinals lost to Tampa Bay 19-16 (OT); Falcons lost at Baltimore 17-9.
CARDINALS OFFENSE: OVERALL (22), RUSH (20), PASS (18), SCORING (21)
CARDINALS DEFENSE: OVERALL (22), RUSH (12), PASS (26), SCORING (22)
FALCONS OFFENSE: OVERALL (27), RUSH (3), PASS (31), SCORING (17)
FALCONS DEFENSE: OVERALL (28), RUSH (24), PASS (25), SCORING (22-T)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Cardinals minus-2; Falcons minus-3
CARDINALS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Greg Dortch continued his breakout season against the Bucs on Christmas with 10 catches for 98 yards. He also ran three times for 25 yards. Injuries have forced the 24-year-old into a bigger role this season and he has taken advantage of the opportunity with 422 yards receiving this season, which ranks third on the team.
FALCONS PLAYER TO WATCH: Rookie QB Desmond Ridder will make his third start as he continues to audition for the 2023 starting job following the benching of veteran Marcus Mariota, who then had season-ending knee surgery. Ridder, a third-round draft pick from Cincinnati, has completed 35 of 59 passes for 315 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in his first two games in the run-first offense.
KEY MATCHUP: Falcons rookie RB Tyler Allgeier vs. Cardinals run defense. Allgeier will try to become the first Falcons rookie to top 100 yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games. He ran for 74 yards and had 43 receiving yards last week against Baltimore and leads Atlanta with 817 rushing yards. The Cardinals rank 12th in the league against the run.
KEY INJURIES: Cardinals QB Colt McCoy was the expected starter, but continues to have concussion symptoms. That forced David Blough into a starting role, making him the team’s fourth startting QB in four weeks. Blough, who was signed by the Cardinals earlier this month, started five games for the Lions in 2019. ... CB Marco Wilson (stinger) had two INTs against the Bucs but was hurt late. He’s day to day. ... S Budda Baker is out for the final two games after suffering a fractured shoulder against the Bucs. ... DE Zach Allen (hand) is likely out for Sunday’s game. ... Falcons backup OL Chuma Edoga (knee) was placed on IR. ... C Matt Hennessy (knee) could be activated from IR for the game. ... LG Elijah Wilkerson (calf) and TE Feleipe Franks (concussion) missed practice on Wednesday.
SERIES NOTES: The Falcons have won three of the past four in the series. ... After the Falcons beat the St. Louis Cardinals 16-10 in the first meeting between the teams on Dec. 11, 1966, in Atlanta, the Cardinals won the next five games in the series.
STATS AND STUFF: Cardinals rookie TE Trey McBride has caught 10 passes over his past three games. That’s more than he had in his first 11 games combined. ... CB Marco Wilson had his first game with multiple interceptions against the Bucs, picking off Tom Brady twice. It was just the 14th time in Brady’s 380 regular season and postseason games that an opposing player has picked him off twice. ... Three of the Cardinals four wins this season have come on the road. ... DE J.J. Watt announced on Tuesday that he’s retiring at the end of the season. The three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year has 9½ sacks this season. If he reaches 10, it would be his sixth season with 10-plus sacks. ... The Cardinals have 16 players on injured reserve, including 11 from the offense. That’s the third most in the NFL. ... The Falcons have lost four consecutive games and six of their past seven. ... Of Atlanta’s 10 losses, eight have come by no more than eight points. ... The Falcons have scored no more than 18 points in their past eight losses. ... Rookie WR Drake London leads Atlanta with 61 catches for 699 yards and four touchdowns. ... DT Grady Jarrett has team-leading six sacks. ... Ridder’s 35 completions are the most for a Falcons quarterback in his first two career starts.
FANTASY TIP: Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins has 29 catches for 317 yards and a touchdown in three road games this season. Hopkins and Marquise Brown, who has at least five catches in three of four road games this season, are good plays against the Falcons’ 31st-ranked pass defense.
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