Week 1 of the NFL regular season is officially in the books. Here are all of the major outlets’ power rankings. So how do the New Orleans Saints rank? (change from preseason rankings is in parentheses)
ESPN - #9 (-3)
Mike Gillislee is playing for his fourth team in six years, and the Saints hope he can complement Alvin Kamara during Mark Ingram’s four-game suspension. Early returns are not good, as Gillislee lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown in the surprising loss to the Buccaneers.
USA Today - #9 (-4)
A team that didn’t allow more than 38 points last year (and surrendered an average of 20.4) gets scorched for 48 by the Bucs? Inexplicable.
CBS - #14 (-6)
That was an ugly showing against the Bucs. What happened to the defense?
NFL - #12 (-9)
Large drop for the Saints, who entered the season as bona fide Super Bowl contenders, according to many folks. The plummet has much to do with the defense, which found itself in the deep abyss of Ryan Fitzpatrick-is-white-hot-and-torching-my-team territory against the Bucs on Sunday. When the ball wasn’t going to Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson was the man. When it wasn’t DJax, O.J. Howard was making plays, including a 35-yarder. Evans and Jackson both caught home-run balls.New Orleans might have to catch a few breaks during the rest of Mark Ingram’s four-game suspension. Otherwise, coordinator Dennis Allen’s defensive unit will get gassed. No run game + track-meet-style football = exhausted defensive players.
SB Nation - #11 (-3)
Bleacher Report - #11 (-8)
One game is a small sample size, and Week 1 is much too early for any NFL team to be hitting the panic button.
However, it’s understandable if Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is freaking out a little.
On a day where Drew Brees threw for 439 yards and the Saints piled up 475 yards of total offense, New Orleans was beaten at home by a last-place Buccaneers team that absolutely shredded Allen’s defense to the tune of over 500 yards and 48 points.
Mind you, this was a game that wasn’t as close as the final score. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s fourth touchdown pass of the afternoon made the score 48-24 before Brees and the Saints made things respectable at the end.
The Saints are supposed to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Super Bowl contenders do not generally get rolled at home by a tomato can. And as such, Sobleski dropped the Saints in his rankings...a lot.
”New Orleans may feature one of the league’s most talented rosters, but no excuses can be made for giving up 48 points in a home loss to open the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Saints must earn their way to the top of the rankings by playing sound football, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.”
Gagnon, on the other hand, was a bit more understanding.
”I was stubborn about the Saints all summer, and I’m not about to completely condemn them because of one bad defensive performance. New Orleans started terribly last season too and then found a groove on both sides of the ball. And the good news is Drew Brees still looked fantastic in a losing effort Sunday. I can’t drop them out of the top 10, but I also can’t justify keeping them in the top five after that disastrous defensive showing.”
Still, the team’s Week 1 fiasco cost them eight slots here.
Yahoo - #13 (-8)
In 2014 and 2015, the Saints ranked 31st in yards allowed. In 2016, they were 27th. In each of those seasons, Drew Brees was asked to do too much and the Saints finished 7-9. Last season the defense improved and the Saints became Super Bowl contenders. The only logical explanation, after seeing Ryan Fitzpatrick carve up the Saints, is that 2017 was a fluke for the defense. Maybe the defense will rebound, but there’s no good excuse for what happened on Sunday. Against the Buccaneers, the Saints defense simply looked like it stinks again.