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Saints on top of wild card postseason power rankings

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NFL: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL playoffs are approaching. 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 (+/-)

New Year’s resolution: Do penance for Sunday’s ugly performance. The Saints’ regular-season finale could have been “meaningless,” since they already had the NFC’s No. 1 seed locked up. But they played so poorly (especially with their starting defense on the field) that coach Sean Payton vowed this will be a back-to-basics practice week to clean up some fundamental issues. “With the way we played yesterday and some of the things that we’ve done offensively recently, our focus is gonna be strictly on Saints,” Payton said Monday. -- Mike Triplett

USA Today - #1 (+/-)

Talented, balanced team armed with home-field advantage at one of NFL’s toughest venues. Pretty much your prohibitive Super Bowl favorites.

CBS - #1 (+/-)

They earned the top seed in the playoffs, but showed what life might be like without Drew Brees against the Panthers. It wasn’t pretty.

NFL - #1 (+/-)

The Saints wrapped up one of the finest seasons in team history on Sunday, albeit with a loss. Nobody cared. Teddy Bridgewater found himself starting a game for the first time in three years, which, quite frankly, was awesome, irrespective of the outcome. Sean Payton chose to rest key starters like Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara, and you can’t blame him, as the league is too competitive to risk being down a major piece this close to the tournament. Not to mention, who knows how many more chances Payton and Brees will have to earn the city of New Orleans its second Lombardi Trophy? Hard to believe it was nine years ago this team upset the Colts and won the hardware. Might not be typing that sentence in five weeks, though.

Bleacher Report - #1 (+/-)

This is a first for the Bleacher Report NFL Power Rankings in 2018: the top-ranked team was blown out at home and didn’t drop like a stone.

Of course, the Saints team that got walloped at the Superdome wasn’t exactly the Saints. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees took the afternoon off. So did tailback Alvin Kamara.

About the only player for the Saints with anything on the line was backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who drew the start in Week 17. With Bridgewater about to hit free agency, Sunday’s matchup was an opportunity to show teams looking for help under center that he is capable of recapturing the pre-injury form he had in Minnesota.

In fairness. Bridgewater didn’t have a full complement of weapons at his disposal, but his moribund effort against the Panthers isn’t going to send any teams scrambling to call his agent.

It wasn’t the end to the season the Saints necessarily wanted, but New Orleans heads into a week off with 13 wins for the year and the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

”Yes, the Saints fell 33-14 to the Carolina Panthers on the final day of the regular season,” Sobleski said. “Who cares? The Saints held back some of their starters, including quarterback Drew Brees, and still feature the game’s best roster. They’re the league’s best team, and a meaningless late-season loss doesn’t change that fact.”

Yahoo - #1 (+/-)

While Week 17 was meaningless to the Saints, you’d have liked to see a little more effort, especially since New Orleans did play a lot of starters. Instead, they were blasted by Kyle Allen and a Panthers team that had nothing to play for. We’ll chalk it up to Week 17 apathy, but it’s not the way you want to go into the playoffs.

Average Power Ranking Composite: #1 (+/-)