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Early Bird Report 9/28: Experts favor Falcons over Bills; Vick recalls a legendary play

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- While fans and media alike analyze the upcoming matchup between the Falcons' potent offense and the Bills' suffocating defense, coach Dan Quinn has his team focused on internal improvements and handling the things they can control. He did make one request of the Falcons faithful during his Wednesday press conference, however: "We're starting early, so get there early."

Today's Early Bird Report contains several predictions for this weekend's game, a trip down memory lane with former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and some injury news out of Buffalo.



Week 3 picks:

Our Thursday tradition continues with several predictions for Week 4.

The experts at CBS Sports are buying stock in the Falcons at home this weekend against the Bills. Six of the eight members of CBS’ selection panel favor Atlanta to remain undefeated heading into the bye week. Senior NFL writer Pete Prisco has been high on the Falcons all season, and he isn't changing his mind this week.

Prisco likes Atlanta to beat the Bills 30-17, saying: "The Bills have allowed two touchdowns in three games, but they haven't seen an offense like this. The Falcons are as good as any offense in the league, and that will show up in this one. The Bills defense won't stand up."

FiveThirtyEight's projections also favor the Falcons over the visiting team. The site has Atlanta’s win probability on Sunday at 77 percent, which is among the higher marks this weekend. Will either the Chiefs or Falcons be the No. 1 seed in their conference?

As part of their weekly prediction piece, ESPN's collection of NFL insiders weighed in on a variety of topics for Week 4. Among those topics was the question of whether either the Chiefs or Falcons would be the 1-seed in the AFC or NFC this year.

While the insiders aren't high on Kansas City's chances – that team over in Foxborough still casts a large shadow – a majority of them favor the Falcons to pace the NFC this season. It's worth a heavy reminder, though, that there is still over three-fourths of the season remaining, which is to say: All of this is extremely premature.

NFL writer Dan Graziano had this to say on the matter:

"The Patriots still probably end up with the top seed in the AFC after the Chiefs and the rest of the AFC West beat each other up all year. But over in the NFC, I think you have to make the Falcons your favorite. The East is going to be a crazy dogfight. The Vikings and Lions both look as if they'll at least make things tough on the Packers in the North. And the Seahawks look as if something is seriously wrong with them. At this point, Atlanta is the favorite to come out of the NFC as the top seed, though obviously anything can happen."

Fox Sports: Michael Vick breaks down his legendary run against the Vikings

Among Michael Vick's many breathtaking moments in his six seasons as the Atlanta Falcons' quarterback was his 46-yard touchdown run against the Minnesota Vikings in overtime to claim a big 30-24 victory during a late-season matchup in 2002. On this run, Vick showed off his incredible speed and sprinted past a slew of Vikings defenders who couldn't keep up.

Now with Fox Sports, Vick broke down that game-winning run, which helped him finish the afternoon with 173 rushing yards on just 10 carries, a new single-game rushing yards record for a quarterback since the 1970 merger.

Here's part of what Vick had to say about that day:

"Come overtime, we get the ball first. Thank God. They line up in man coverage on the first play. What'd I do? I say to myself, if nobody's open on the two-second count in the pocket, I'm taking off. Off the left edge, to my recollection, they bring a blitz or just a good pass rush by the defensive end. Man coverage guys are running crossing routes. Not two man, but single high man. So it was one extra safety that was not in the field.

"I take advantage of it. I predetermine the run. I never predetermine a run. I just let it happen instinctively. And I ran to my left. I seen daylight. The first thing I'm thinking is, OK, good, I got a first down. Let me look to get down and get out of bounds. But then nobody shows up. I see a safety. And I see a corner trying to convert. I say to myself, do I have the speed at 206 pounds with the power to split them?

"I split them, went right through them. I don't know what happened behind me. I seen it on film the next day. I was in the end zone. And I ran into the locker room and celebrated. The one thing I always wanted to do as a player was run into the locker room after a win, whether it was a game-winning catch or a touchdown run or a touchdown pass, victorious. That was my time. I had a great day that day, a day that I never forget."


Democrat & Chronicle: Marcell Dareus will practice on limited basis, Sunday status still unkown

The status of two important Bills linemen are still up in the air, according to Sal Maiorana of the *Democrat & Chronicle**. *For the second week in a row, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn will be limited in practice, if they participate at all, and questionable for Sunday's game.

Dareus, who is dealing with an ankle injury, was listed as limited on the Bills' injury report for Wednesday's practice, while Glenn did not participate in practice as he continues to recover from an ankle injury of his own.


The Times-Picayune: Saints enjoying 'controlled' experience in London

The Saints are taking a very different approach to Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins in London this weekend. While their opponent opted to stay stateside to practice and will arrive abroad on Friday, the Saints left for London immediately after their win over the Panthers and have spent the week over there.

Per Josh Katzenstein of *The Times-Picayune**, *the decision appears to have been the right one. The team arrived at 9 a.m. on Monday morning and had Tuesday off as well before getting back to practice on Wednesday. Those added days to adjust have helped the players remain focused on the upcoming game, and the hotel has all of the amenities the team needs.


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