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Early Bird Report 11/14: Falcons earn high grades; Seahawks adding Byron Maxwell?

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- After a strong showing in Sunday afternoon, the Falcons face an extended week before heading to Seattle to play the Seahawks on "Monday Night Football."

Today's Early Bird Report includes grades from the Falcons' victory over the Cowboys as well as an interesting signing reportedly being made by the Seahawks.



CBS Sports: Grading the Week 10 performances

Although ultimately pointless, many websites hand out grades for each NFL team following the weekend's slate of games. John Breech of CBS Sports shared his grades for Week 10, and he gave the Falcons one of the highest marks. Atlanta earned an "A" for its 27-7 victory over Dallas, and Breech had this to say about the performance:

"They don't give out the 'Defensive Player of the Week' award until Wednesday, but we can probably go ahead and pencil in Adrian Clayborn for the NFC's honor for Week 10. In what might have been the best defensive performance by any player this season, Clayborn set a Falcons' franchise record with six sacks. That's not all though, the Falcons defensive end also forced two fumbles and recovered one of those. The Falcons held the Cowboys to just 233 yards, marking the first time since September 2014 that they've held a team under 250 yards of offense."

Pro Football Focus: Clayborn turns in one of the top-graded performances in PFF history

The grades that Pro Football Focus releases for each game are a bit more grounded in analysis and scouting than those from more traditional media outlets. PFF evaluates game film closely and compares each player to their defined grading scale, a scale which Adrian Clayborn nearly broke on Sunday. Here are the top five Falcons grades from PFF after Sunday’s win:

  • DE Adrian Clayborn (99.9)
  • LB Deion Jones (87.7)
  • TE Austin Hooper (86.7)
  • CB Desmond Trufant (85.4)
  • QB Matt Ryan (83.8)

Clayborn earned the highest grade from PFF among defenders on Sunday and one of the all-time performances in the site's history.

"Performance of the season so far? Atlanta Falcons edge defender Adrian Clayborn took advantage of the injury to Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith, making life miserable for stand in Chaz Green," PFF wrote. "Clayborn racked up six sacks, a hit and six hurries from 33 pass-rushing snaps, giving him a league-leading pass-rushing productivity rating of 31.1."

NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: Seattle Seahawks Byron Maxwell signs with Seahawks

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, cornerback Byron Maxwell is rejoining the "Legion of Boom." The Seahawks are reportedly signing Maxwell to a one-year contract, reuniting him with the club that drafted him with their sixth-round pick in 2011. The move makes sense for Seattle, which lost star cornerback Richard Sherman to an ACL injury in its Thursday night victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Maxwell worked out with the Falcons earlier this season.


*The Charlotte Observer: *Panthers crush Dolphins behind 5 straight offensive touchdowns

On "Monday Night Football," the Carolina Panthers put together their best performance of the season. Following a Luke Kuechly interception late in the second quarter with the Panthers (7-3) holding just a 10-7 lead, quarterback Cam Newton and Carolina's offense scored a touchdown on five straight possessions, eventually rolling to a 45-21 victory.

The Panthers gained over 200 yards on the ground for the second straight week, led by Jonathan Stewart's 110 yards on 17 carries. Newton was at his very best Monday night, gaining nearly 350 total yards of offense and four touchdowns. One bit of bad news for the Panthers, according to *The Charlotte Observer's *Scott Fowler, was the loss of rookie wide receiver Curtis Samuel to a serious-looking ankle injury.

*The Times-Picayune: *Do the Saints have any glaring weaknesses?

The New Orleans Saints have now won seven straight games, the latest of which came in the form of a dominant 47-10 victory on the road against the Buffalo Bills. Arguably the hottest team in the NFL, the Saints have become a major contender in the NFC. After their latest performance, *The Times-Picayune's *Josh Katzenstein asked if the Saints have any major flaws. He names two weaknesses that have become apparent to him.

"First, and frankly the most obvious, is the Saints return game," Katzenstein wrote. "They just can't seem to create big plays in that area. New Orleans ranks 28th in average yards per kickoff return (19.4) and 30th in average yards per punt return (5.2).

"The other potential weakness is the run defense. The Saints rank 17th in run defense, but the real issue is the big plays as the team has allowed 10 runs of 20-plus yards this season. Those long gains are the main reason teams are averaging 4.7 yards per carry against the Saints, and the defense must find a way to curb that issue."


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