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Saints remain one of NFL’s elite in Week 2 power rankings

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NFL: Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 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 preseason rankings is in parentheses)

ESPN - #3 (+/-)

Rookie who flashed: Erik McCoy, C

How the newcomer starred: The new starting center sure seemed to hold up well on a night when the Saints ran for 148 yards on 21 carries (a 7.0 average) and threw for 370 yards on 44 dropbacks. Drew Brees was sacked only once. Perhaps some more subtle miscues will show up on film, but the second-round pick obviously wasn’t a weak link on New Orleans’ loaded offensive line. “Give him credit,” Brees said. “First game out and to have a win like this on Monday football has to mean something.” -- Mike Triplett

USA Today - #4 (-1)

This time they avoided heartbreaking loss on national stage, but secondary has work to do if New Orleans is to celebrate 10-year Super Bowl anniversary in style.

CBS - #6 (+1)

They need to tighten up that defense if they are going to get to the Super Bowl. Facing the Rams on the road on a short week won’t be easy.

NFL - #4 (-1)

Wil Lutz for president. The kicker drilled a 58-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Saints past the Texans in the best game of Week 1. Lutz’s heroics came after Deshaun Watson put the Texans ahead and stunned the Superdome into silence with a two-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 37-yard touchdown strike to former Saint Kenny Stills. Given just 37 seconds and one timeout to work with, Drew Brees still managed to get the Saints into Texans territory, setting up Lutz for the game-winner. It was a rough night for the New Orleans defense, which sacked Watson six times, but gave up too many big plays through the air and surrendered 180 yards on the ground. The Saints never allowed more than 112 yards rushing in a game in 2018. A trip to L.A. to face the Rams next Sunday presents an even bigger challenge for the unit.

Bleacher Report - #3 (+/-)

For all the success the New Orleans Saints have had in recent years, Week 1 has been quite the bugaboo. Last year, Drew Brees was out-dueled by Ryan Fitzpatrick in a 48-40 loss to the Buccaneers. In 2017, it was a 10-point loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The year before that, it was a one-point loss at home—to the Oakland Raiders.

The Saints Week 1 jinx very nearly got them again. After Deshaun Watson found Kenny Stills to knot the score with less than 40 seconds to go, Houston kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn appeared to shank the PAT. But the Saints were flagged for roughing, and Fairbairn nailed the do-over.

However, this time Drew Brees wasn’t having it, and after getting the Saints into nominal field-goal range Wil Lutz nailed a career-long 58-yarder as time expired to give the home team a two-point victory.

In the grand scheme of things, the win may not mean a ton.

But after two straight seasons of crushing last-minute defeats in the playoffs, maybe changing the beginning of the movie will have an effect on the end.

Yahoo - #3 (+1)

It’s not the best news that they so easily gave up 75 yards to Deshaun Watson in the last minute, but Watson will do that to plenty of teams before he’s done. The good news: Drew Brees is still a top-five all-time quarterback.

Sports Illustrated - #4 (-1)

On a team with Super Bowl aspirations, it sure helps when you’ve got a kicker who can drill a 58-yard game-winner.

Average Power Ranking Composite: #3 (+1)