Early Bird Report 9/21: Falcons vs. Lions predictions; 3 Detroit starters miss practice

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Sunday's matchup between the Falcons (2-0) and the Lions (2-0) is shaping up to be a good one. Although both teams are dealing with some injuries, it should be intriguing to watch Detroit's formidable defense try to slow down Atlanta's potent offense.

In today's Early Bird Report, we have a scouting report on the Falcons, several picks on this weekend's slate of games as well as 16 reasons Detroit fans should be excited about their team.

Enjoy!

FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY

Sports Illustrated: Steve Sarkisian: His battle against alcoholism and running the Falcons offense

While most members of the Falcons were fielding questions about the Super Bowl this offseason, new offensive coordinator was asked about other things. One such topic was his battle against alcoholism, which Jonathan Jones covered in his piece for Sports Illustrated*. *To his credit, Sarkisian has never sought to hide from this struggle. Instead, he uses it as an opportunity to educate and help those around him.

"I feel like at times I'm fortunate that it is public, that I can help other people, that I can offer my story, that I don't feel like I don't have to keep it hidden," Sarkisian told Jones. "This is who I am, and we all have things that we go through in life that we grow from. And we either turn those things into a positive or they can continue to get worse. I feel like I'm in a place where I've learned from my history and I'm a better person today because of it."

As far as the offense is concerned, Sarkisian has never viewed this as his offense. He often refers to this as the "Atlanta Falcons' offense" instead of his own. Thus far, this offense doesn't appear to have skipped a beat with a new coordinator calling the shots.

DetroitLions.com: Scouting report on the Atlanta Falcons

Looking ahead to this Sunday's game, Mike O'Hara, a columnist for the Detroit Lions' website, published his scouting report on the Falcons. In his recap of how the Falcons reached their 2-0 record, he notes that they barely escaped a loss against the Bears before turning around and blowing out the Packers.

When assessing the offense, O'Hara focuses on the Falcons' main trio:

"They have talent and depth. Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones are a quarterback-receiver combination with star power and production. Add to that a two-back rotation – two-time Pro Bowler and 1,000-yard rusher Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman – and there's a reason the Falcons are so potent."

Turning his attention to the defense, O'Hara's assessment is a simple one: "It's a unit built on speed and man coverage in the secondary."

Week 3 picks:

As we do every Thursday, we've compiled a list of several expert predictions for this weekend's games.

Although the Falcons are on the road, they are receiving some love from the experts over at CBS Sports. In their weekly predictions, five of the eight selectors favor the Falcons over the Lions. Pete Prisco, CBS' senior NFL writer, likes Atlanta on the road and believes they will win 26-20 in "the best game of the week." CBS' John Breech also thinks the Falcons will come out on top on Sunday.

The statisticians over at FiveThirtyEight have also released their projections for this weekend's slate of games, and they list the Falcons' win probability at 53 percent.

NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: Detroit Lions

Mlive.com: Jarrad Davis among 3 starters to miss practice

The Falcons aren't the only ones dealing with injuries to starters this week. According to Kyle Meinke of Mlive.com, the Lions were without three starters during Wednesday's practice. Rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis sat out because he's in the NFL's concussion protocol; center Travis Swanson missed practice due to an ankle injury and safety Travis Wilson is dealing with a shoulder injury.

Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions are undefeated, so here are 16 signs to be excited

People in Detroit are giddy about the Lions' 2-0 start, especially since one of those victories came during a prime-time game. To convince fans that this Lions team is for real, the *Detroit Free Press's *Jeff Seidel shared 16 reasons to be excited about this group. The list mostly focuses on Detroit players making big plays at critical times like Jamal Agnew's 88-yard punt return for a touchdown and Ziggy Ansah's three-sack performance against the Giants.

BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH

The New Orleans Advocate: Veteran defensive lineman Darryl Tapp brought back by the Saints

After trading linebacker Stephone Anthony to Miami on Tuesday, New Orleans filled its empty roster spot by signing veteran defensive lineman Darryl Tapp, according to Joel Erickson of The New Orleans Advocate*. *Tapp, 33, has played 11 NFL seasons and played 292 snaps for the Saints last year. In 2016, Tapp recorded 17 tackles, half a sack and nine quarterback hits.

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