The Kansas City Chiefs sit atop the NFL’s Power Rankings in any list out there, and it makes sense considering they’re the defending Super Bowl champs and have the 2018 MVP in Patrick Mahomes at the helm. Often directly behind the Chiefs is their AFC interdivision rival, the Baltimore Ravens, the team with last year’s MVP, Lamar Jackson.
But after that, things tend to get a little dicey.
The New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, and even Tennessee Titans all have a claim to the #3 spot. Typically the 49ers and Saints are found in the three and four spots in some random order.
In Peter King’s most recent power rankings, it’s the Saints who are given the edge:
Endings are not always pretty. Tom Brady’s finale last year, for instance, with the pick-six to Logan Ryan on the last play of his New England career. Brett Favre, on a snowy night in Minnesota, getting concussed in an ugly 40-14 loss to the Bears. And I’ve thought of what this season might be like for Drew Brees in New Orleans, particularly after three straight ignominious ends to Saints seasons. I don’t see another ugly finish from this team, and this coach. Brees is not exactly stumbling into the end, if indeed this is the end; I think it probably is, based on the fact that Brees was so close to walking away in January. In the last two years, he’s had the two most accurate seasons in NFL history, had a combined 59-9 TD-to-interception ratio, and had his best two passer ratings of a 19-year career.
This is mostly the same team that stalled in the Superdome against the Vikings in the wild-card game, except for Jameis Winston as an intriguing backup QB, Emmanuel Sanders as a proven alternative to Michael Thomas, and uber-leader Malcolm Jenkins returning to key the secondary in what could also be his last year. Jenkins is the player Sean Payton always regretted letting get away after spending his first five seasons in New Orleans. It’d be fitting for both Jenkins and Brees to go out on top.
To make it to Super Bowl 55, New Orleans will have to be better than up-and-coming San Francisco and the pesky Bucs. In its last 33 regular-season games, New Orleans is 23-5 against the rest of the league and 3-2 against the Bucs . . . and now Tampa will have Tom Brady playing quarterback. A fascinating January should be on tap, whatever happens.
San Francisco fans will likely be upset over coming in fourth behind the Saints, considering the 49ers beat the Saints in New Orleans last season and made it further in the playoffs. At the same time, it’s difficult to argue too much with the logic here.
The 49ers lost DeForest Buckner and Emmanuel Sanders in the offseason, with the latter filling an obvious hole on the New Orleans Saints. In addition to the Sanders, the Saints maintained depth at quarterback by bringing in Jameis Winston (to fill the void left from Teddy Bridgewater) and improved the secondary by adding veteran Malcolm Jenkins.
November 15th. That’s the day of the 49ers and Saints rematch in the Dome.
It’ll be a wild one, for sure.
Do you agree with these rankings? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisDunnells.