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Saints back atop the NFC in this week’s power rankings

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NFL: OCT 20 Saints at Bears Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Week 8 of the NFL regular season is almost upon us. Here are all of the major outlets’ power rankings. So how do the New Orleans Saints rank? (change from last week’s ranking is in parentheses)

ESPN - #2 (+/-)

Recalibrated expectation: Super Bowl or bust

It took two miracle finishes to knock the Saints out of the playoffs the past two years. And now they have somehow strengthened their case as a top contender by thriving without injured QB Drew Brees the past five weeks. Brees should be back in the next game or two, and the Saints will be very hard to beat if the defense continues to dominate the way it has in his absence. -- Mike Triplett

USA Today - #2 (+/-)

New Orleans could be on cusp of fascinating dilemma as contracts of both Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater scheduled to void in 2020.

CBS - #3 (+/-)

They are now 5-0 without Drew Brees. Sean Payton has done a masterful job with this team. Teddy Bridgewater has been impressive.

NFL - #2 (+1)

Sean Payton is chasing only one trophy this season, and it will be the one handed out in Miami on the first Sunday in February. But he’s already got the NFL Coach of the Year award in the bag for what he’s done with the 6-1 Saints. New Orleans has been without Drew Brees for most of the season, and on Sunday, superstar running back Alvin Kamara sat with ankle and knee ailments. Didn’t matter in a blowout of the Bears at Soldier Field. At some point, attrition is supposed to take its toll, but somehow, the Saints keep getting stronger. It’s a testament to Payton’s ability as both a coach and team-builder. And things are only getting better: Brees (out since Week 2 with a thumb injury) is returning to practice this week and could even be back in action on Sunday against the Cardinals. This is your Super Bowl favorite in the NFC.

Bleacher Report - #2 (+/-)

Week 7 Result: Won at Chicago 36-25

The New Orleans Saints are rolling.

Since Drew Brees went down with an injured thumb, all the Saints have done is peel off five wins in a row—with the latest being a 36-25 win over the Chicago Bears that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. The streak includes wins over the Bears, Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks. Two of those victories (including Sunday’s) came on the road.

It’s not just that Teddy Bridgewater has played well, although he certainly has—nine touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of almost 100. With Alvin Kamara on the shelf, veteran tailback Latavius Murray gouged the Bears for 119 yards on 27 carries. The defense has played lights-out football.

And now Brees hopes to be back for Week 8.

”The Bears hadn’t allowed 30-plus defensive points in regulation since November 2017 before the Saints walked into Chicago and put up 34 on offense without their stars at quarterback and running back,” Gagnon said. “They’re just rolling without Drew Brees, which should have them in a position to make a deep playoff run when Brees returns.”

Yahoo - #2 (+1)

Receivers can’t win the MVP award, but in an alternate universe in which it was possible, Michael Thomas would have a case. He has been a steady force all season for the Saints, no matter who has been quarterback. He is earning that big extension.

Sports Illustrated - #3 (+/-)

Teddy Bridgewater rebounded from his poor outing against Jacksonville by dicing up a tough Bears unit, but Latavius Murray wins Saints MVP of the week for his 119 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Alvin Kamara as Drew Brees readies to return.

Average Power Ranking Composite: #2 (+1)