FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- With the second half of the season upon us, the Falcons are working to correct some of the issues that have plagued them in recent weeks. The best NFL teams often find their stride in November and December, and the Falcons certainly hope to be among them.
Today's Early Bird Report includes expert picks for the Falcons' clash with the Cowboys as well as a surprising story involving Julio Jones and Panthers safety Kurt Coleman.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
Week 10 picks:
Despite some of the recent struggles, Atlanta has remained a favorite among many of the experts who pick NFL games each week. Against the Cowboys, however, the Falcons aren't getting the same level of support. Only one of the seven experts at CBS Sports like the Falcons at home this weekend. Senior NFL writer Pete Prisco is the only one at CBS who favors Atlanta at home; he predicts a 27-23 victory for the Falcons, saying:
"The Falcons might be playing for their playoff lives here. They are 4-4 and home for the first time in a month after three on the road. The Cowboys have righted things with three consecutive victories, but they might be without Ezekiel Elliott, pending his appeal of his suspension. I think the desperate Falcons find a way to win it."
Interestingly, the projection model at FiveThirtyEight is also giving the Falcons an edge at home. Atlanta's win probability is currently set at 56 percent against Dallas.
NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: Dallas Cowboys
*Fort Worth Star-Telegram: *Cowboys injury report
The Cowboys are dealing with a few notable injuries heading into this weekend's matchup. While Dallas did get cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, the team's second-round pick, back as a full participant in practice on Wednesday for the first time since Oct. 6, starting left tackle Tyron Smith and top receiver Dez Bryant both sat out practice, according to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram*. *
Smith left the Cowboys' win over Kansas City with a groin injury, while Bryant missed practice due to an ankle/knee injury. Starting kicker Dan Bailey also looks unlikely to play, as he continues to recover from a groin injury.
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH
ESPN.com: Panthers marvel at Kurt Coleman consoling Julio Jones after drop
On Monday, Falcons coach Dan Quinn shared a story about how the team showed great support for wide receiver Julio Jones after he dropped a fourth-down touchdown pass in the end zone against the Panthers. The first person to support Atlanta's All-Pro receiver, however, wasn't a teammate but rather Carolina safety Kurt Coleman.
According to David Newton of ESPN, Coleman met Jones in the end zone after the drop, wrapped his arm around him and told him, "Glory to God."
"It was just a player respecting how great a player he is," Coleman said, according to Newton. "In a society where we often criticize others or chastise other people for making mistakes, we forget that we often make our own."
*Tampa Bay Times: *NFL upholds Mike Evans suspension
Appeals officer James Thrash upheld Mike Evans' one-game suspension by the NFL for a blind-side hit on Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore that occurred well after the play had ended, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Greg Auman. Evans will miss the Buccaneers' upcoming game against the New York Jets, meaning they will be without their top receiver and starting quarterback, as Jameis Winston has been shut down for a couple weeks to recover from an AC joint sprain.
"I want to sincerely apologize for my actions during Sunday's game," Evans said, per Auman. "I saw my quarterback getting shoved and I let my emotions get the better of me. My response was not appropriate and not a true indication of who I am as a player and a person. I take pride in playing the game the right way and I realize it was unprofessional and hurt my team."
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