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Saints unchanged among NFC’s elite in final regular season Power Rankings

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NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Week 16 of the NFL regular season is in the books. 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 (+/-)

Team MVP: Michael Thomas, WR

If not for Lamar Jackson, Thomas would have a great chance to become the first receiver to win the league MVP award. His 145 receptions broke Marvin Harrison’s single-season record (143) with one game to spare. He also leads the NFL with 1,688 receiving yards and has nine touchdown catches. He has been a go-to guy for both Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater. And he has been vital for a team that is short on reliable targets in the passing game. Thomas has 116 more catches than any other wide receiver on the team. -- Mike Triplett

USA Today - #3 (-1)

Somewhat disappointing year for Alvin Kamara, who’s battled injuries and (finally relenting) end zone allergy. But three more catches would mean career-best 82.

CBS - #6 (+1)

They won a tough game on the road against the Titans, but the defense struggled again. That’s not a good trend heading to the playoffs.

NFL - #2 (+2)

The Saints’ defense has shown cracks against two of the best offenses in football over the past three weeks, but New Orleans has an offense that can go toe-to-toe with anyone. We saw that Sunday in Nashville, where the Saints spotted the Titans a 14-0 lead before ripping off 24 unanswered points en route to a 38-28 win. Sean Payton’s attack was humming in all phases here: Drew Brees was his surgical self, Jared Cook continued to be a playmaking machine, Michael Thomas set the NFL catch record -- but the Saints are probably feeling the best about Alvin Kamara, who found the end zone twice (his first touchdowns since Week 3) and moved like the guy who ripped the NFL apart as one of the game’s most dynamic offensive weapons a season ago. After the win, Kamara -- who has been slowed by ankle and knee injuries -- acknowledged he was getting his “burst” back. Bad news for the NFC.

Bleacher Report - #4 (+1)

Week 16 Rest: Won at Tennessee 38-28

So, Michael Thomas is pretty good at catching footballs.

After catching 12 passes for 136 yards and a score against the Titans on Sunday, Thomas now holds the single-season record for receptions with 145. However, Thomas told reporters after the game that he’s more interested in a trip to Super Bowl LIV than individual accolades.

”To be honest, it doesn’t really mean nothing. I don’t take it for granted. But the fact that we still have more goals as a team—as far as not the individual stuff that comes along with it—I would be selfish to be like, ‘Oh, I just caught all these passes and did all this.’ Ultimately I was catching the passes to win the game, to help my team be in the position we’re in now.”

Thomas has done plenty for the team as well, including to help erase a 14-0 hole in Week 16 and keep the Saints in the conversation to be the NFC’s No. 1 seed.

But considering Marvin Harrison’s old mark of 143 catches stood for 17 years, Thomas is at least entitled to a quick victory lap.

Yahoo - #2 (+1)

Will this be the year that the Saints reverse two postseasons of crippling heartbreak?

Sports Illustrated - #3 (-1)

Thanks to a stellar outing from Drew Brees (27-of-38, 279 yards, three TDs), Michael Thomas made some well-earned history on Sunday afternoon as he broke the NFL’s single-season receptions record with 12 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown. That brings his total to 145, surpassing Marvin Harrison and affirmed Thomas as one of the NFL’s unique young talents.

Average Power Ranking Composite: #3 (+/-)