It seems impossible for the analysts to reach a consensus on the New Orleans Saints. After a 36-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, featuring a Tom Brady final drive that was cut short by a PJ Williams interception that he took back for a touchdown, it’s hard not to fixate on the context of the Saints losing Jameis Winston for the season. While he wasn’t lighting the world on fire, Winston felt safe, and the Saints have been cast into an unknown quarterback situation.
With that being said, it’s time to stop treating the Saints like some unknown quantity. They have one of the few difference-making defenses in the NFL, the league’s best safety valve in Alvin Kamara, and a coach who’s proven to be adaptable in the past in Sean Payton. At 5-2, they’re half a game back in the NFC South, and they could move into first in the division if they beat the Atlanta Falcons Sunday with the Buccaneers on a bye.
ESPN - #10 (From #13)
Quarterback is the obvious choice in the wake of Jameis Winston’s knee injury. But even when he was healthy, the Saints’ lack of proven WR and TE targets was a glaring problem. They rank 31st in the NFL in passing yards per game (180.9) and completion percentage (58.8) — and dead last in receptions by WRs (7.9 per game) and receptions by TEs (2.4 per game). Needless to say, they’re eagerly awaiting Michael Thomas’ return from an ankle injury. — Mike Triplett
USA Today - #12 (From #12)
They’ve clawed their way to within a half-game of the division lead and have a solid grip on the NFC’s second wild card. Unfortunately, with turmoil under center in light of QB Jameis Winston’s season-ending knee injury, such positioning will be tough to maintain. Best case, hard to view this team as anything more than a one-and-done playoff squad.
CBS - #6 (From #12)
Winning the way they did against Tampa Bay is a testament to Sean Payton’s coaching. Give defensive coordinator Dennis Allen his due as well. Both will need to be better without Jameis Winston.
NFL - #8 (From #12)
You have to give it up to the Saints: On a day they lost their starting quarterback to a season-ending knee injury, they summoned everything they had left to hold off a Tom Brady-led rally and register a dramatic win over the defending champs. That right there was a gut-check W. The loss of Jameis Winston is a crushing setback for the team, of course — Trevor Siemian is the dictionary definition of career backup, while Taysom Hill has yet to establish himself as a true QB. Still, the Saints have impact players on both sides of the ball and one of the best coaching staffs in football. They ain’t dead yet.
Bleacher Report - #11 (From #12)
The New Orleans Saints earned maybe the biggest win of Week 8 with their nine-point victory over Tom Brady and the visiting Buccaneers. The victory gave the Saints a crucial head-to-head win over the division-leading Bucs.
However, that win came at a steep cost.
As ESPN’s Mike Triplett reported, Saints quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a significant knee injury in the win, one that had even his old teammates in Tampa Bay hopeful that things weren’t as bad as they looked.
“He’s a great guy,” Buccaneers linebacker Devin White said. “You hate to see that happen. I hope it’s not serious, man. I’m just praying for him. But it’s a long season. [I] hope he can come back and fight with his team.”
As Sobleski wrote, those hopes were dashed Monday. And while New Orleans earned a big bump in these rankings this week, holding on to it isn’t going to be easy.
“New Orleans deserves a big bump after an impressive win Sunday against the rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” he said. “Unfortunately, Winston suffered a torn ACL and PCL in his left knee, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Sean Payton’s squad deserves credit for a 5-2 start. At the same time, the team won’t be the same with Taysom Hill or anyone else behind center.”
Yahoo - #9 (From #12)
The Saints are a surprising 5-2 but now have to change on the fly due to Jameis Winston’s ACL injury. The offense is going to look totally different with Taysom Hill. However, if there’s any coach you’d trust to figure it out, it might be Sean Payton.
Sports Illustrated - #10 (From #14)
That was such a great win for the Saints on Sunday, so it’s really a bummer to pair it with the news that Jameis Winston’s season is over. All that said, it’s sort of intriguing to think we could get another half a season of the Taysom Hill experience. But I say that as a person who enjoys watching fun story lines develop, not as a Saints fan hoping to win the Super Bowl. Anyway, a source told Albert Breer the Saints may stick with Trevor Siemian and just mix Hill the way they have in the past? That could be fun too. What I’m saying is: The Saints have just been predictably good for long enough that I’m interested to see them scrap their way toward the playoffs.
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