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First NFL QB benched? New overwhelming favorite emerges

All the ingredients are in place for the Atlanta Falcons to make a run at the postseason in the NFC South.

And that should make second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder very nervous.

The Falcons (2-2) are only a game behind Tampa Bay in the NFC South, and have two games remaining against the Buccaneers. However, they have also scored a combined 13 points in dropping their past two games.

Ridder, who was given the starting job after showing promise in place of Marcus Mariota at the end of last season, has thrown three touchdowns against three interceptions this season while posting a 77.9 passer rating.

With the offense fledgling, Ridder faces a potentially critical Week 5 home game against the surging Houston Texans. Lose on Sunday, and coach Arthur Smith could be extremely tempted to turn to veteran backup Taylor Heinicke, who started 24 games for Washington over the past two years.

That’s why has elevated Ridder to the +100 favorite this week to be the first NFL starting quarterback benched this season. That’s well ahead of his closest competition, New England’s Mac Jones at +500.

Jones was pulled from last week’s 38-3 blowout loss to Dallas, but the third-year quarterback received a vote of confidence from Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.

“He blames himself. The game wasn’t lost because of one guy,” O’Brien said Tuesday. “The game was lost, on our part, because of how poorly we played and coached in the game.

“We have a lot of belief in Mac; I think he’ll get back to doing it the way he knows how to do it.”

Desmond Ridder, Falcons (+100)
Mac Jones, Patriots (+500)
Sam Howell, Commanders (+900)
Justin Fields, Bears (+1000)
Kenny Pickett, Steelers (+1000)
Russell Wilson, Broncos (+1000)
Ryan Tannehill, Titans (+1000)
Jimmy Garoppolo, Raiders (+1800)
Kirk Cousins, Vikings (+1800)
Bryce Young, Panthers (+2000)
Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers (+4000)

Mayfield, who topped this list earlier in the season, has seen his odds lengthen significantly while guiding the Bucs to a 3-1 start.

So, too, has Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill. The Titans are 2-2 along with the rest of the AFC South, and oddsmakers believe for now that coach Mike Vrabel will stick with his veteran quarterback.

The third-shortest odds belong to another first-year starter in Washington’s Sam Howell (+900). After a disastrous Week 3 outing against Buffalo in which he threw four interceptions, the former North Carolina star rebounded by throwing for 290 yards and a touchdown in last week’s overtime loss at Philadelphia.

–Field Level Media

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