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Saints mostly stay pat in Week 12 Power Rankings after decisive win with Taysom Hill at quarterback

Most folks aren’t buying in on Taysom Hill yet, but they’re largely singing a different tune from Thursday

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

When it was announced that Taysom Hill would be starting over Jameis Winston for the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, the general consensus was... What? After a solid win, analysts aren’t quite sold on Hill, but they definitely agree that the Saints are a more complete team than we saw in the first three weeks.

Here’s what major outlets have to say about where the Saints stand in the Week 12 Power Rankings. (Change from each week will be in parentheses.)

ESPN - #3 (+1)

What they’re thankful for: A cornucopia of quarterbacks

In a league where so many teams are plagued by their inability to find a QB they can trust, the Saints have now won games with Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston behind center over the past two seasons. Of course it helps that they have Sean Payton calling the shots and a defense playing at an elite level. But there is a lot to be thankful when you’re 8-2. — Mike Triplett

USA Today - #3 (+/-)

Pretty remarkable to think they’re 6-0 without QB Drew Brees since the start of 2019 season. Yet worth noting defense has really stepped up, too, allowing just 16.8 points per outing sans Brees.

CBS - #3 (+/-)

OK, so maybe Sean Payton did know something we didn’t about Taysom Hill. Now let’s see him do it again on the road against a better defense. Then we can talk.

NFL - #3 (+/-)

Early in the season, most of the focus on the Saints’ slow start centered around Drew Brees and the quarterback’s apparent physical limitations in his age-41 campaign. That covered for the fact that Sean Payton’s defense was stinking out the joint. After Sunday’s 24-9 win over the Falcons, most of the focus remained at quarterback — Taysom Hill was fine — but the underlying storyline mattered more: The Saints’ defense is locked in, and it’s been that way for weeks. Matt Ryan was sacked eight times and intercepted twice, and those impact plays put Hill in positive setups all afternoon. New Orleans allowed 30 points per game in the first five weeks. The Saints have allowed just 14.4 points per game in the last five weeks.

Bleacher Report - #4 (+/-)

Week 11 Result: Won vs. Atlanta 24-9

More than a few heads turned this week when the New Orleans Saints announced that Taysom Hill (and not Jameis Winston) would start Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons with Drew Brees (ribs) on injured reserve.

As it turns out, Saints head coach Sean Payton knows stuff.

Hill didn’t throw a touchdown pass against the Falcons, but leaning heavily on star wideout Michael Thomas, he completed 18 of 23 passes for 233 yards with a passer rating of 108.9. He also paced the Saints with 51 rushing yards and scored twice on the ground.

The real star of the game might have been the Saints defense. New Orleans allowed fewer than 250 total yards, turned the Falcons over twice and sacked Matt Ryan eight times.

“Beating a bad Falcons team isn’t a huge feat,” Davenport said, “but this was still a big win for the Saints. By virtue of the Packers’ loss in Indianapolis, the Saints are the only two-loss team in the NFC. New Orleans also doesn’t face a good team until hosting the Chiefs in Week 15, and if Hill can hold down the fort until then, the No. 1 seed in the conference should remain very much in play.”

“The Saints have surrendered just 8.3 points per game the last three weeks, and they’re now 6-0 in their last six games without Drew Brees,” Gagnon added. “They might still land the top seed with Brees recovered by the time the playoffs roll around. You can see the stars aligning for them in the NFC.”

Yahoo - #3 (+1)

I’ve been skeptical of Taysom Hill being a full-time quarterback, but he looked good on Sunday running and throwing. This is Sean Payton’s heat check: If he can win with Hill, a totally different quarterback than Drew Brees, he knows what it will mean for his reputation.

Sports Illustrated - #3 (+/-)

While your synapses were being overwhelmed by thoughts of Taysom Hill, you missed the fact that the Saints pass rush is out there eating quarterbacks’ souls the last three weeks. One reason Hill—rather than the reckless Jameis Winston—will work is that the Saints aren’t going to give up many points from here on in. And any time they’re playing with the lead, using play-action off that expansive, multi-dimensional rushing attack is still in the cards and Hill’s life as a passer gets much easier.

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

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