FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The weekend is almost here, which means the "Sunday Night Football" matchup between the Falcons (1-0) and the Packers (1-0) is nearly upon us. Rejoice, citizens of Atlanta!
Today's Early Bird Report contains some criticism from an AFC scout, an analysis of the Falcons' tackling woes in Week 1 and the return of a familiar face this weekend.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: AFC scout says 'Atlanta's secondary isn't very good'
Both Atlanta and Green Bay are considered among the top teams in the NFC, and many believe their Sunday night contest could be a close one. In fact, the Falcons are favored by only 2½ points against the Packers. According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC, one AFC scout thinks Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will be able to score and keep the pressure on the Falcons in this one.
The anonymous scout spoke with Bob McGinn of BobMcGinnFootball.com and said, "Green Bay will put up points and make it close. Atlanta's secondary isn't very good." Another AFC personnel man told McGinn, "I honestly think the best way to (beat) Atlanta is establish the running game and go pound on them. They're undersized. That's kind of how New England caught up in the Super Bowl. Wore them out. … To beat them, you've got to withstand the storm because they're going to come at you early. Most of the times when they lose games it's in the fourth quarter. They get worn out."
Sports Illustrated: Atlanta's stadium opens in shadow of a collapse
Sunday night will usher in a new era for the Falcons franchise as they play their first game inside of the spectacular Mercedes-Benz Stadium. As most have found a way to do since February, *Sports Illustrated's *Ben Baskin framed the opening of the stadium in a way that brought the Falcons' Super Bowl loss front and center.
Baskin's piece is well researched and thoroughly covers the history of a franchise that is, as he puts it, "an endearing but unexceptional franchise, one whose success would always come in brief, transient waves." The Falcons have handled the loss about as well as any team could be expected to handle it, and they seem to have truly turned the page. By now, however, it seems clear this isn't a storyline that is going away anytime soon, if ever.
The Falcoholic: Analyzing the Falcons' tackling woes in Week 1
Following Atlanta's victory in Chicago, coach Dan Quinn said correcting the missed tackles was at the "top of the list" for the team this week. Quinn said the Falcons missed double-digit tackles last Sunday, and Allen Strk of The Falcoholic went back through the game film to determine just how inconsistent the team's tackling really was.
He came away from that film study noting that there were four missed tackles that made the game closer than expected. With the Packers' potent offense coming to town, the Falcons' tackling will need to be surer on Sunday night.
Forbes.com: How one NFL team is innovating to better appeal to Millennials
As businesses around the country seek to gain the loyalty of millennials, a generation that appears to have vexed the status quo, Wes Gay of Forbes.com believes the Falcons are tackling this challenge head-on. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is the most tech-savvy in the NFL, and everything from the low concession stand pricing to the stadium fan app is designed to improve fan experience on game day.
NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: Green Bay Packers
ESPN.com: Packers could have trouble at tackle against the Falcons
As of now, the status of Green Bay's starting tackles is up in the air. ESPN's Rob Demovsky writes that the Packers may have both Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari when they take on the Falcons Sunday night, but they may also be forced to go into the game with a tackle who has just one career start and an undrafted rookie who was just promoted to the active roster this week.
Bulaga missed the Packers' season-opener with a sprained ankle, and he has been battling the flu all week. Bakhtiari has practiced only on a limited basis as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Another of Green Bay's backup tackles, Jason Spriggs, is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Chris Odom brings his 'X-factor' to Packers defense
Falcons fans may remember the name Chris Odom. The defensive linemen was with Atlanta throughout training camp and the preseason, and he led all NFL defensive linemen with 17 tackles in the exhibition games. After being released from the Falcons following the preseason, Odom was signed to the Green Bay Packers' 53-man roster. He will return to Atlanta this weekend, and it's another stop on his pretty interesting journey that Ryan Wood of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote about in this piece.
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH
The New Orleans Advocate: Adrian Peterson 'didn't sign up for nine snaps'
Adrian Peterson carried the ball just six times for 18 yards in his debut with the New Orleans Saints, and he played nine snaps in total. Following the game, there was much speculation that he and head coach Sean Payton got into a heated exchange, which Peterson says was 'overdramatized.' According to Joel Erickson of The New Orleans Advocate*, *Peterson thinks it will take some time for the running back situation to sort itself out.
"I didn't sign up for nine snaps, though, but unfortunately that's the way the game played out," Peterson said. "In my mind, personally, I knew it was gonna take some adjusting. You know, me and Mark (Ingram) played in the last preseason game, (Alvin Kamara) didn't even play that game. So, with all three of us being out there, I knew it would take a game or so to kind of get adjusted."
Tampa Bay Times: Jameis Winston follows a new playbook: Dr. Seuss
Per the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is drawing some inspiration from the Dr. Seuss book "Happy Birthday to You!" In particular, he's drawn to this quote from that book:
"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."
Now in his third season, Winston says he is working to become a more patient quarterback but added "you are who you are." Winston has developed a reputation for keeping plays alive and taking big shots down the field. At times it's worked out for him, as he became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons in the league, but he has also thrown 33 interceptions and lost nine fumbles.
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