Back in Week 11, the Atlanta Falcons were still in contention for the playoffs. That’s no longer the case after they lost their fourth game in a row last week, 17-9, to the Baltimore Ravens. They are hoping to somehow end their season on a bright note, and they can start by snapping their slump when they play the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17 at home. Both squads have already been officially eliminated from any sort of postseason appearance so this clash is all about pride and seeing which players might be worth keeping for 2023. Now let’s look at our Falcons Week 17 predictions as they take on the Cardinals.

The Falcons are hoping to bounce back from their tough Week 16 loss when they take on the Cardinals this week. The Falcons were unable to make a comeback last week, as they were trailing 14-6 heading into the final quarter.

Keep in mind that the Falcons offense is averaging just 21.0 points per game. That ranks them 17th in the NFL. However, they will face off against one of the worst defenses in the league. Take note that the Cardinals rank 30th in points allowed. The Falcons, who are ranked 31st in pass yards per game, may benefit from facing an Arizona secondary that is vulnerable in the air.

Both teams would benefit from losing the next two games in order to improve their draft position. However, one team will have to come out as the winner in this matchup.

With all these in mind, here are our four bold predictions for the Falcons in their Week 17 game against the Cardinals.

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4. Falcons defense struggles anew

Atlanta’s Week 16 defeat highlighted the areas in which the team needs to improve before the 2023 season. One huge area is defense, where the Falcons have struggled mightily this season. They have seen so many busted coverage assignments leading to losses for the team.

For Week 17, however, the Falcons defense may not have much difficulty against the Cardinals. Still, Atlanta has allowed too many big plays and strong rushing performances in the past. Although the Cardinals may have a disadvantage with Trace McSorley starting at quarterback, James Conner is a capable running back and could pose a challenge to the Falcons defense.

That said, the Falcons, with the exception of cornerback AJ Terrell, could improve in all areas of their defense looking ahead to 2023.

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3. Falcons running game gets snuffed

The Falcons are likely to rely on their rushing attack in their game against the Cardinals. However, the Cardinals have a strong defense against the run. Remember that All-Pro JJ Watt leads the charge. He will certainly want to do well in what will be his final two games in the NFL.

If you’re a Falcons fan, though, one guy you can be excited about is RB Tyler Allgeier. He has seen an increase in carries out of the backfield. In fact, he has had 18 rush attempts compared to Cordarrelle Patterson’s eight in the last game against the Ravens. The Falcons may want to get a closer look at Allgeier now that they have been eliminated from the playoffs. Consequently, he may have the opportunity to take on a larger role in the backfield. Note as well that the Cardinals have one of the worst run defenses in the league. This which could set Allgeier up for a potentially successful outing, though again, Watt will likely limit any run game explosion the Falcons are hoping to see.

2. Desmond Ridder is not HIM

Rookie QB Desmond Ridder does not look like the long-term answer for the Falcons. However, they drafted him in the third round, which gives them some flexibility to figure out his role on the team. The Falcons have a strong rushing attack under head coach Arthur Smith, and adding an experienced and capable quarterback could bring the team to the next level.

Remember that Ridder has started the past two games. However, he has only averaged 157.5 passing yards in that stretch. In his last game against the Ravens, he threw for 218 passing yards. He has not scored a touchdown or thrown a turnover this season. It has really been a mixed bag.

The positive aspect for Ridder in Week 17 is that the Cardinals have a weak pass defense. That means that this could be the week he sets new career highs. However, he has not yet surpassed 250 yards or 7.0 yards per attempt passing yet this season. Those are not exactly high bars to aim for.

We have Ridder reaching 205 total yards with one TD and one INT this week. Again, he just is not HIM for ATL.

1. Falcons take another one on the chin

This week’s game between the Falcons and the Cardinals could be a low-scoring matchup. It may not be exciting or entertaining as well. Of course, despite having nothing to play for, both teams will be looking to end their seasons on a high note.

Keep in mind that the Falcons offense has not been consistent this season, while the Cardinals have struggled on defense. The Falcons will likely rely on their running game, featuring Patterson and Allgeier. On the flip side, the Cardinals will look to their passing game with weapons like DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown. Ultimately, the Cardinals are expected to win on the road as the Falcons take another one on the chin.