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Saints Week 7 Power Rankings: Analysts hold firm on Saints heading out of bye week

The Saints experienced some movement, but it was more about the teams around them

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NFL: New Orleans Saints at Washington Football Team Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints are in a pretty good position heading out of the bye. They’re slated to have some key players return in the near future, they’re playing a team similarly decimated by injuries in the Seahawks, and they’re above .500 after experiencing a yo-yo first five weeks.

If the Saints continue to struggle coming out of the bye, it may be time to start to worry. But for an offense whose receptions leader is a running back with 15 catches, they’re in pretty good shape.

ESPN - #14 (From #13)

The Saints might have had the most radical up-and-down swings in the entire league over the first four weeks: dominant win over Green Bay, blowout loss at Carolina, convincing victory at New England, epic fourth-quarter collapse against the Giants. But I have them right back at the exact same confidence number I would’ve chosen before Week 1. They have some flaws, most notably a lack of proven pass-catchers. But I still think this is a playoff-caliber team that will only get better as Jameis Winston keeps getting more comfortable in the offense and they get eight starters back from injuries (including WR Michael Thomas) and suspension. — Mike Triplett

USA Today - #11 (From #16)

Though somewhat skewed after bye week, who would have guessed a Sean Payton team would have attempted 29 fewer passes than any other club in the NFL?

CBS - #9 (From #11)

They come off the bye at 3-2 on the verge of getting a lot of key injured players back. Watch out as they get healthier. Sean Payton has done a nice job with this team.

NFL - #12 (From #11)

In the wake of a Week 6 bye, it feels like a good time for a check-in: How are we feeling about the Jameis Winston Experiment? Statistically, the veteran quarterback has been solid, throwing for nearly 900 yards with 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions during the Saints’ 3-2 start. Of course, a closer study of the game tape reveals hints that the Winston of New Orleans is the same Winston who ran himself out of Tampa Bay. His usage — topping 23 pass attempts in just one game so far — tells you Sean Payton is loath to give his QB too much responsibility. We’re a hard HOLD on this one.

Bleacher Report - #12 (From #14)

There has been no shortage of things written about Jameis Winston since he was taken first overall in 2015—both good and bad. Pundits have lauded his cannon of an arm and decried his penchant for tossing interceptions.

But not enough is being written about how well Winston is playing in his first season as the starting quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.

Yes, there have been interceptions. Three of them. And Winston’s completion percentage (60.3) isn’t especially high. But the 27-year-old has thrown four times as many touchdowns as interceptions so far this season. His passer rating of 108.1 is easily a career high. The wide receivers that Winston has thrown to are not an especially imposing bunch. And the Saints hit the bye above .500 and within striking distance of the division-leading Buccaneers.

It won’t take long to find out whether Winston’s Saints are a threat to Brady’s Buccaneers. After playing the injury-ravaged Seahawks in Week 7, New Orleans hosts Tampa Bay on Halloween.

Yahoo - #13 (From #11)

For those waiting on a Michael Thomas return, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said that’s still “weeks away” even if Thomas is eligible to come off the PUP list. There’s still hope that the Saints can be in the playoff mix and then incorporate one of the NFL’s best receivers back into the lineup.

Sports Illustrated - #12 (From #12)

Another team where you have to be all-in on the defense, but terrified at the quarterback situation. There’s been no semblance of consistency or, at many times, even competence for the Saints’ offense—Jameis Winston is, as feared, sometimes ineffective but more often erratic. Though maybe that changes once Michael Thomas returns. But probably not.

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