Week 14 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 - #5 (+1)
What they’re thankful for: WR Michael Thomas.
I could choose something more clever, but instead, I’ll go with the blatantly obvious answer. The Saints probably rely too much on Thomas in a passing game that needs more reliable options -- but he delivers every time. He is on pace for an astounding 151 catches and 1,806 yards. Turns out, the record-setting contract he signed this summer worth up to $20 million per year was a bargain. -- Mike Triplett
USA Today - #4 (-1)
Trait that should serve them well? They’re unlikely to implode. Seven turnovers a league low, and they don’t have multiple in any game.
CBS - #5 (+/-)
It wasn’t pretty against the Panthers, but they found a way. But play that way against good teams and it’s going to kill them.
NFL - #5 (+/-)
Sunday started out as a cakewalk that turned into a nail-biter that nearly turned into a disaster. Thank goodness for shaky kickers, as three Joey Slye misses -- including a chip-shot yack in the final two minutes -- allowed New Orleans to escape with a 34-31 win. This was far from the best performance we’ve seen from the Saints’ defense, but the unit deserves credit for getting five stops near the goal line that set up Slye’s final miss. Drew Brees took over after that, driving the Saints into field-goal position to set up the Wil Lutz game-winner. True story: Michael Thomas has 104 receptions before Thanksgiving. Football’s best wideout had 10 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in a ho-hum performance. Speaking of Thanksgiving, the Saints are on a short week ahead of a matchup with the Falcons on Thursday night. In a loaded NFC, New Orleans needs to keep stacking wins.
Bleacher Report - #4 (+/-)
Week 12 Result: Won vs. Carolina 34-31
For a little while Sunday, it looked like the New Orleans Saints were about to fall at home to an inferior (in terms of record) division opponent for the second time in three games.
But a missed kick, some late heroics from Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara, and the sure-footedness of kicker Wil Lutz snuck the Saints past the Carolina Panthers in Week 12—and in doing so all but handed the NFC South to New Orleans again.
The Saints haven’t racked up style points the past few weeks. They looked awful in a loss to Atlanta in Week 10 and didn’t play their best football against Tampa last week or the Panthers on Sunday.
But there are a couple of mitigating factors. Quarterback Drew Brees is still working his way back from hand surgery. The Saints have been without top cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who has a hamstring injury. And the last two weeks at least, they found a way to win.
”The Saints have a tenuous grasp of a top spot based on their recent play,” Sobleski said. “New Orleans’ loss to the Atlanta Falcons two weeks ago can be excused. Even the best teams falter once or twice throughout a long regular season. But New Orleans should have lost to Carolina too. A missed 28-yard field Joey Slye field goal is the only reason why the Saints haven’t lost two of their last three games. But Drew Brees and Co. found a way to win late—which is a positive and keeps them among the top five overall.”
Yahoo - #4 (+/-)
It will be forgotten because the Saints won, but it was another less-than-impressive performance. They really haven’t looked dominant for three weeks in a row. Thanksgiving night, and a rematch against a Falcons team that surprisingly destroyed them, will be very interesting.
Sports Illustrated - #6 (+2)
Not that it would have mattered much to Drew Brees, but the Saints definitely should have been trailing by three (or four, or five) on what instead became the game-winning drive. But Michael Thomas (10 receptions, 101 yards, TD) saved the day once again, working his way open on a crucial third down and logging his fifth game in a row over 100 receiving yards.