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Early Bird Report 2/5: Atlanta's turn to play Super Bowl host; Eagles knock off Patriots

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes takeaways from Super Bowl LII as well as Atlanta preparing for its turn at hosting the Big Game.



ESPN: You're up next Atlanta: Falcons get ready for Super Bowl LIII

After wrapping up Super Bowl LII in the freezing Minneapolis weather, the Big Game will return to Atlanta in 2019. Mercedes-Benz Stadium will get its first opportunity to host America's most-watched event next year, and Falcons owner Arthur Blank was in Minneapolis to get an up-close look at how to host a Super Bowl.

"We had a large contingent here in Minneapolis, checking out everything and seeing what we like, what we don't like, what we could change, what we could do to make it better," Blank told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure in a phone interview from Super Bowl LII. "Our environment is a little bit different because things are closer together. That's one of the reasons why our stadium has been so successful: We're a half a mile from over 10,000 [hotel] rooms. You've got the [Georgia World] Congress Center right there. So you've got all these others things that make it easy for the fans, easy for the media, easy for everybody."

The Falcons have made the postseason the past two years, and they should factor into the mix once again in 2018. Following the Vikings' loss in the NFC title game, the Falcons have the opportunity to be the first team to play in a Super Bowl hosted by their home city.

This will be the third Super Bowl the city of Atlanta has hosted the Super Bowl. Super Bowl XXXIV was hosted in Atlanta on Jan. 30, 2000, when the Titans fell just a yard short of the end zone on the last play of the game in a 23-16 loss to the Rams. Before that, the Cowboys beat the Bills for the second straight year in the Big Game -- a 30-13 win in Super Bowl XXVIII.

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BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL Eagles knock off Patriots for first Super Bowl win

The Eagles earned their first Super Bowl in franchise history on Sunday night after beating the Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII. Following the final game of the 2017 season, Chris Wesseling of provided several takeaways for fans to digest.

Philadelphia and New England combined for an NFL-record 1,151 yards on Sunday night – the most in any game, regular or postseason. Seen as a weak link for much of the Eagles' playoff run, backup quarterback Nick Foles turned in a great performance, completing 65 percent of his passes for 373 yards with three touchdowns and an interception en route to being named Super Bowl MVP. He also caught a 1-yard touchdown pass.

Foles picked on a Patriots secondary that was without arguably its top cornerback in Malcolm Butler. The decision to sit Butler for the Super Bowl left many puzzled, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said it was one made based on the way the two teams matched up with each other. Reports indicate that Butler, a pending free agent, wasn't happy with the team's decision.

For more of Wesseling's takeaways from Super Bowl LII, click here.

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