No, it wasn’t pretty. But the Taysom Hill-led Saints are 2-0. While nearly every NFL analyst agrees that the Steelers and Chiefs are one and two in the league right now, the uncertainty of Drew Brees’ status has the NFL world unsure about just what to do with the Saints. The Packers are hot on their heels in the NFC, and they look “better” winning games. With that being said, the Saints aren’t losing, so they’re understandably a hard team to evaluate.
Here’s what major outlets have to say about where the Saints stand in the Week 13 Power Rankings. (Change from each week will be in parentheses.)
ESPN - #3 (+/-)
Most important game remaining: Week 15 vs. Kansas City
Technically, this is the leastimportant game on the Saints’ remaining schedule, since it is against an AFC opponent and won’t affect playoff tiebreakers. But every other team on the Saints’ slate has a losing record. So how could I not highlight a matchup that might be the most thrilling game left in the entire NFL regular season? And not to be cliché, but every game remaining on the Saints’ schedule is equally important, since they would badly love to clinch the NFC’s No. 1 seed — and would lose a tiebreaker to the Packers if they finish in a two-way tie for first. — Mike Triplett
USA Today - #3 (+/-)
Well look who now owns league’s top-ranked defense. And how about DE Trey Hendrickson, who has more sacks (9½) than anybody save Aaron Donald.
CBS - #3 (+/-)
Taysom Hill is 2-0 as a starter, even if the passing numbers have been pedestrian. The idea is to just keep winning until Drew Brees is back.
NFL - #3 (+/-)
Taysom Hill’s second start was less impressive than his first, but the Drew Brees replacement didn’t need to do much with the Broncos starting a practice squad wide receiver at quarterback. Hill scored twice from in close and the New Orleans defense handled the rest in a 31-3 win. The Saints allowed just one pass completion the entire game, a bonkers stat in bonkers circumstances. It provided cover for the fact that Hill wasn’t much better than Kendall Hinton as a passer. From NFL Research: The Broncos and Saints combined for just 91 gross passing yards, the fewest in a game since 1982. Hill is 2-0 as Saints starter, but questions about his long-term viability behind center persist.
Bleacher Report - #4 (-1)
It feels odd to express concern over a two-loss Saints team that just routed the Denver Broncos on the road to stay atop the NFC.
But all is not necessarily well for the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints blasted the Broncos on the ground, racking up 229 yards and over five yards per carry on 44 totes. The defense allowed only 112 total yards, although that’s largely because the Broncos started a practice-squad wide receiver at quarterback.
But the idea of Taysom Hill as a viable NFL quarterback took a sizable hit in Week 12. Hill finished 9-of-16 for 78 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 43.2.
Against a short-handed Broncos team, that didn’t matter. It might not on the road in Atlanta and Philly over the next two weeks, either. But in Week 15, the Saints host Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in a game that they aren’t going to win with less than 100 passing yards.
And with the Green Bay Packers lurking just behind the Saints in the NFC, there isn’t much margin for error if New Orleans wants the playoffs to run through the Superdome.
Yahoo - #3 (+/-)
Maybe the Saints’ plan would have been different if the Broncos had a quarterback. But that wasn’t an impressive afternoon for the Taysom Hill experiment. Another game against Atlanta, who Hill was very good against last week, might get New Orleans’ pass offense back on track.
Sports Illustrated - #4 (-1)
I have to admit that I’m concerned about Drew Brees. I know everyone seems to believe he’ll be back in plenty of time for the playoffs, and that he should be fine, but it’s just sort of mind-boggling to me. He is 41, dealing with a collapsed lung and a fractured rib count in the double digits, and everyone just says, “Welp, four weeks or so.” Part of me is worried we’ll never see him play again, if he can’t get back for the end of this year. Or that he might come back without full effectiveness and have to be replaced again. But I am not a doctor, and one lesson that has been reinforced throughout 2020 is the importance of listening to medical experts. Those types seem to be saying he should be O.K., but I kind of want to see him on the field and playing well before I call New Orleans the best team in the NFC. Isn’t that fair? The roster is obviously stacked, and they have won two games convincingly with Taysom Hill, but I’m not ready to put them in the Super Bowl yet.
Average Power Ranking Composite: #3 (+/-)
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