Early Bird Report 9/18: A newfound belief in Falcons arises after dominant win vs. Packers

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons (2-0) ushered in a new era at Mercedes-Benz Stadium the same way they ended one at the Georgia Dome: With a convincing victory against the Green Bay Packers (1-1).

Atlanta jumped out to a big 34-10 lead in the third quarter, before a pair of Green Bay touchdowns gave us the final score of 34-23. There appears to be plenty of confidence in these Falcons after Week 2, which means the Early Bird Report has a positive vibe this Monday morning.

Enjoy!

FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY

USA Today: Falcons show they can still soar with convincing win over Packers

Atlanta earned a statement win on national television, which left many across the country impressed. *USA Today's *Jarrett Bell should be counted among those who liked what they saw out of the Falcons on Sunday night. On a new stage, Bell saw the same Falcons offense that lit up opposing defenses in 2016. He mentions the balanced attack Atlanta displayed, as well as the young, tenacious defense that showed up and slowed down Green Bay.

ESPN.com: These Falcons show why they might be a better Super Bowl contender

While some have worried about a Super Bowl hangover, the Falcons showed they may be an even better contender in 2017, according to ESPN's Vaughn McClure. The offense and defense worked together in perfect harmony, creating big plays on both sides of the ball against the Packers. After taking a big 24-7 lead at halftime, the Falcons didn't rest in the second half and made sure the game was safely out of reach before focusing on running out the clock. Atlanta became just the fourth team since 1999 to start 2-0 after losing the Super Bowl – two of the other three teams returned to the playoffs.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Falcons again send Rodgers packing and look great doing it

For the third time in three games, Atlanta ended up on top against Green Bay. As Mark Bradley of the AJC observed, "There are times when these Falcons really do look like the NFL's best team." Bradley's main impression of the game seems to go in line with the general consensus: These Falcons appear to have what it takes to bring home the Lombardi Trophy. It's worth a big reminder that only two games have been played, but with a new-look defense that harassed Rodgers throughout Sunday night, there's plenty of reasons for optimism in 2017.

NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: Detroit Lions

MLive.com: 10 reasons to jump on Detroit Lions bandwagon and 5 to steer clear

Since the Lions don't play until tonight, when they face the New York Giants, take this time to familiarize yourself with the Falcons' upcoming opponent. Last week, Scott DeCamp of MLive.com published several reasons why Detroit fans should jump on the Lions bandwagon as well as some reasons why they shouldn't.

Among the reasons why fans should be excited about this Lions team are: Matthew Stafford's ability to come through in the clutch; Matt Prater is one of the top kickers in the NFL and the fact that everyone is overlooking the Lions. Struggles in the run game and a wait-and-see attitude on the defense are a couple of reasons DeCamp says to hold off.

BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH

ESPN.com: Panthers tight end Greg Olsen breaks foot in win

The Carolina Panthers' 9-3 victory against the Buffalo Bills did not come without a price. Start tight end Greg Olsen broke his foot in the win, and he told reporters afterwards, "I am going to miss a lot of games," according to ESPN's David Newton. Olsen became the first tight end in NFL history with three-straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons last year, and made his 81st consecutive start on Sunday.

The Times-Picayune: Saints defense exposed again in loss to Patriots

New Orleans dropped its home-opener to the New England Patriots on Sunday, losing 36-20. For the second week in a row, the Saints defense proved ineffective in stopping their opponent. Tom Brady finished the game having completed 30-of-39 passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns. His three touchdown passes all came in the first half, which marked a first for Brady's illustrious career, according to Josh Katzenstein of The Times-Picayune*. *

Tampa Bay Times: Bucs force four turnovers in rout of Bears

After not playing in Week 1, the Buccaneers looked sharp in their season-opener against the Chicago Bears, winning 29-7. Tampa Bay forced four turnovers, including a 47-yard pick-six by Robert McClain. The Bucs nearly posted a shutout for the first time since 2010.

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