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Early Bird Report: Falcons hold steady in power rankings; preparing for unpredictable Panthers

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today’s Early Bird Report includes a look at some prominent power rankings as well as the Falcons’ preparations for an unpredictable Cam Newton.

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Power rankings:

The Falcons don’t appear to have taken too much of a hit in this week’s power rankings after their season-opening loss to the Eagles. The held ground or dropped slightly in a couple of rankings, but they did take a tumble in a pair of rankings as well, including Matt Tabeek’s power rankings.  

·      NFL.com: No. 7 (Last week: No. 8)

“Falcons move up despite the season-opening loss due to ugly performances from the Saints and Steelers. Not to mention, these guys had a real challenge Thursday night. You try going into the home of the world champs, having your best running back limping on the sideline, losing your defensive enforcer for the season and going against a crowd ready to douse its Pabst Blue Ribbon on your head. (Side note: Does anyone say "world" champs anymore? My pro football preview magazine from 1958 does.) Safety Keanu Neal's torn ACL is huge, but I don't think any of the below teams are better than Atlanta. And Falcons fans can no longer say I hate their team.” 

·      CBS Sports: No. 11 (LW: No. 4)

“It's hard to win on the road in the NFL, so don't overreact to the Week One loss to the Eagles. This team will be a playoff team.”

·      ESPN.com: No. 10 (LW: No. 9)

“Falcons first-round pick WR Calvin Ridley went catchless in his debut, getting only two targets on 37 routes run. Only Mohamed Sanu (40) and Julio Jones (43) had more routes run on Thursday.”

·      MMQB: No. 8 (LW: No. 8)

Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:

AJC: Falcons facing unpredictable Panthers, Cam Newton

The Panthers have a new offensive coordinator in Norv Turner, but with Cam Newton still at quarterback, Carolina’s offense isn’t about to look drastically different. Turner played into Newton’s unique skill set in the Panthers’ Week 1 win over the Cowboys, and Falcons coach Dan Quinn is anticipating Newton making some plays with his legs on Sunday, as Matt Winkeljohn wrote about in a piece for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“When he gets out on the edge, he’s a running back and a big one,” Quinn said Monday. “So, I anticipate that part of his game because that adds another element to their offense.” 

ESPN: Le’Veon saga 2.0

The Steelers removed running back Le’Veon Bell from their depth chart this week, which marks the latest twist in what has been a bizarre 2018 between the two parties. Bell has yet to sign his franchise tag, but the Steelers didn’t appear to miss him too much as James Conner gained 192 yards of offense and scored two touchdowns while filling in for Bell in Week 1.

ESPN has broken down all of the latest news with Bell and the Steelers and provided some insight into what should be expected in the coming weeks and months. You can read what they have to say, here.

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