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Saints back atop the NFL in this week’s Power Rankings

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NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Week 14 of the NFL regular season is now in the books. Here are all of the major outlets’ power rankings. So how do the New Orleans Saints rank? (change from the previous week are in parentheses)

ESPN - #1 (+1)

Top wish list item: The NFC’s No. 1 seed. The Rams opened the door with their loss at Chicago on Sunday night. Now the Saints need to slam it shut with victories at Carolina and at home against Pittsburgh and Carolina to end the regular season. New Orleans is certainly capable of winning on the road, but the team’s only Super Bowl in franchise history came when the Saints earned a No. 1 seed in 2009. And it wouldn’t hurt to avoid both the Rams and Bears in the divisional round of the playoffs. -- Mike Triplett

USA Today - #1 (+1)

1. Saints (2): Collectively, they’re back on track for home-field advantage. But from individual vantage point, Drew Brees’ MVP candidacy taking on water.

CBS - #2 (+2)

It took them some time to get untracked against the Bucs, but they had a good second half. They are back as the top seed in the NFC.

NFL - #1 (+/-)

The Bucs never let the Saints off easy, do they? New Orleans was trailing by two scores deep into the third quarter on Sunday, with nothing doing from the offense. Then, as they are prone to do, theSaints exploded for 25 unanswered points, with a heavy boost from the special teams. Mark Ingram delivered the nail in the coffin, as the old kids call it, with a fourth-quarter touchdown rumble. I was listening to the Saints broadcast, which meant I heard former player/current broadcaster Deuce McAllister awkwardly announce that Ingram tied some guy named Deuce McAllister for the most rushing touchdowns in franchise history (49). Ingram’s unselfish, steady play since his return from a four-game suspension has made quite a difference for this group.

Historical note: In terms of awesome short touchdown runs, you can’t beat McAllister’s scoring plunge in the bowels of a mosh pit against the Eagles in the 2006 Divisional Round.

SB Nation - #1 (+1)

Not that Drew Brees and the Saints wouldn’t be the near the top in any case, but this season, they’ve achieved a new level of offensive unkillability.

Bleacher Report - #1 (+3)

Sunday’s game in Tampa was a tale of two halves for the New Orleans Saints.

The first half was un-Saints-like. New Orleans made mistakes, couldn’t get the offense going and trailed 14-3 at intermission.

Then New Orleans apparently remembered it’s one of the best teams in the league. The Saints didn’t allow a second-half point, peeled off touchdowns on three straight drives and by game’s end, had secured their second consecutive NFC South title.

Still, at least one of our analysts remains a bit worried about the Saints.

”The Saints got the win today,” Davenport said, “but it wasn’t an impressive one. Drew Brees didn’t play especially well, and the team managed just 3.3 yards per carry on the ground. They just aren’t the same team away from the Superdome, so winning out and trying to secure home field is important. I don’t know that these Saints can beat the Rams again if the game’s in LA.”

Yahoo - #1 (+1)

It was hard to move the Saints back to the No. 1 spot considering how badly they struggled for six quarters against the Cowboys and Buccaneers. But they came alive in the second half at Tampa, they have a win over the Rams and they still seem like the most complete of the three teams vying for the top spot. Next Monday night at Carolina is a huge game for them. They finish with two home games, against the Steelers and Panthers. Those two teams are capable, but the Saints are great at home. And three more wins means they’d have home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs.

Average Power Ranking Composite: #1 (+1)