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Early Bird Report 9/7: Matt Ryan's surprising spot in QB ranking, Bears name No. 2 QB


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons and Bears each enter their Week 1 matchup in two very different situations. Most experts around the country favor Atlanta on the road against Chicago, while at least one news outlet wonders whether this could be coach John Fox's final season with the Bears.

Only a few days separate us from the start of the NFL's 2017 regular season, but there are plenty of headlines to hit in the meantime.



The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: What I like and don't like about Falcons in 2017

Mark Bradley, a sports columnist with the AJC, is torn when it comes to the 2017 version of the Falcons. He believes the season could go very well for Atlanta, and he is picking the Falcons to win the NFC South, but Bradley also admits that only 51 percent of him feels this way.

There are many things he likes about the Falcons, including Dan Quinn's positive attitude, the continuity on the roster and Julio Jones looking healthy to begin the season. There are also several things Bradley doesn't like, including the turnover at both coordinator spots, a possible Matt Ryan regression and recovering from the Super Bowl loss.

ESPN: Coleman eager for Chicago homecoming

Before becoming the second half of one of the NFL's top running back duos, Tevin Coleman grew up in the suburbs of Chicago watching a player known only as "Sweetness." In an interview with ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, Coleman discussed watching Walter Payton while growing up in Chicago and what a homecoming in Week 1 means to him.

"It's real awesome to go back home and play back home growing up being a Bears fan," Coleman told McClure. "I ain't never been to a Bears game. Just being in that stadium and playing in that stadium is going to be pretty cool, to have the support of my family."

Coleman will also face the running back who stepped into his starting role at Indiana after he departed for the NFL – Jordan Howard. Although Howard transferred into Indiana as Coleman was on his way out, the two have developed a good relationship. Ryan ranked No. 7 in Week 1 QB Index

Coming off an MVP season, Matt Ryan made his strongest case yet to join the polarizing club of elite quarterbacks. Seemingly every person who watches the NFL has a different set of quarterbacks who are in that elite club or just outside of it, and they usually love to explain their reasoning.

Gregg Rosenthal of released the first edition of his QB Index for the 2017 season. Because no games have been played yet, Rosenthall based his Week 1 rankings on which quarterback you would most want to have for the 2017 season. Ryan holds the seventh spot in Rosenthal's initial list, one spot behind Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

CBS Sports: Falcons heavily favored over Bears in Week 1 predictions

It appears a lot of people like Atlanta to begin its 2017 season with a victory. Several websites that cover the NFL have released predictions for Week 1 games over the past few days, including CBS Sports. All eight members of CBS Sports' panel of NFL experts picked the Falcons to beat Chicago on the road in their season-opener.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports' senior NFL columnist, also likes Atlanta to come out on top this weekend. He predicts the Falcons to leave the Windy City with a 31-7 win over the Bears, saying the "Falcons are in a different class."

ESPN: McKinley logs off of social media for the foreseeable future

Takkarist McKinley, the Falcons' first-round pick in this year's draft, doesn't want anything distracting him from football this season. McKinley told ESPN's Vaugh McClure that he shut down his social media accounts on Tuesday, saying "It was becoming a distraction for me."

McKinley is expected to see plenty of action as a pass-rusher in the Falcons' nickel packages early on this season.

CBS Sports: Experts predict Falcons will repeat as division champions

With the season about to officially get underway, CBS Sports released its 2017 predictions. Seven of the sites' NFL experts gave their predictions for how each division would turn out, as well as which teams would earn each conference's wild card spots and who would win this year's Super Bowl.

Four of the seven experts like the Falcons to repeat as NFC South champs. Two of the remaining three panelists have Atlanta finishing second – with both expecting the Falcons to claim the top wild card spot – while one expert thinks it will finish third in the division.

NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: CHICAGO BEARS Mitch Trubisky named second-string QB

Rookie Mitchell Trubisky was named the Bears' No. 2 quarterback on Wednesday, according to Kevin Patra of Ahead of Chicago's Week 1 matchup with Atlanta, Mike Glennon was named the starter, but head coach John Fox kept silent on who would be his backup.

After a strong preseason in which Trubisky completed 67 percent of his passes for 364 yards and three touchdowns, Fox rewarded the rookie, saying, "He earned that spot."

Chicago Tribune: Is it win or else for John Fox in 2017?

This year might be a "win-or-else" season for Fox, writes the *Chicago Tribune’s* Dan Wiederer. In 2015, Fox took over a team that went 5-11 the year prior. In his two seasons as head coach, the Bears have a 9-23 record and Wiederer doesn't expect a breakthrough to be right around the corner.

Wiederer explains that the Bears' ownership has stressed there are no ultimatums in place for Fox this season, but the veteran coach is coming off the worst 16-game season in the franchise's history and the clock is ticking.

Chicago Tribune: Bears bring in four receivers for a tryout

Injuries have sapped what little depth the Bears had on their roster at wide receiver, and the team is doing what it can to get some of that depth back. Chicago hosted four wide receivers and four defensive backs for a tryout on Tuesday, according to the *Chicago Tribune*’s Brad Biggs.

The wide receivers who were brought in for a workout were Mario Alford, Montay Crockett, Frankie Hammond and Darreus Rogers. The defensive backs were Dante Blackmon, Alex Carter, Brian Dixon and Damian Swann.


The Charlotte Observer: Can the Panthers win the NFC South and make the playoffs?

Tom Sorensen, a correspondent for *The Charlotte Observer, *shared his thoughts Wednesday on whether or not the Carolina Panthers can win the division and make a return to the playoffs this season. Although he believes Carolina addressed its needs and fixed its weaknesses, Sorensen believes a 9-7 season is in store for the Panthers because of the level of talent in the NFC South.

While Sorensen doesn't predict the Panthers to go far, he appears to be a big believer in the Falcons. Sorensen likes the Falcons to beat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game for the second straight year and then, "The Falcons go to Minneapolis, where the temperature on Super Bowl Sunday will be 7 degrees, and beat Oakland 29-24."

ESPN: Adrian Peterson embracing time-share in New Orleans

One of the true NFL workhorses of the last decade, Adrian Peterson is embracing the time-share the awaits him this season in New Orleans. ESPN’s Mike Triplett spoke with Peterson about signing with a team that already had a lead back in Mark Ingram and a pass-first offense.

"I'm sure I'll have my opportunities to get in there as well," Peterson told Triplett. "But when you have that many playmakers, you have to put them in the game."


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