The NFL is a fickle place. You can go into Week 1 completely sure that a team is nestled neatly in the No. 15-20 spot, almost in playoff contention but not quite, and then watch that team utterly trounce a Super Bowl favorite 38-3 while holding a Hall of Fame quarterback to under 150 yards passing.
So it was for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, who obliterated Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in a game that, due to Hurricane Ida, was effectively a lost home game for the Saints. Jameis Winston was smart and efficient, and now the Saints are suddenly a darling. They appear in the Top 10 of nearly every power ranking, and the Top 5 in a few.
ESPN - #9 (From #19)
It doesn’t get any better than intercepting Aaron Rodgers in your NFL debut as part of a dominant defensive performance. And Adebo’s performance couldn’t have been any more important for a Saints team that was extremely thin at cornerback in Week 1. Adebo got the starting nod and handled himself very well despite being an obvious target for Rodgers, with an interception, a pass defense and three tackles. The third-round draft pick from Stanford should wind up as a No. 3 CB when Marshon Lattimore is healthy and Bradley Roby returns from suspension. But he has proven he’s ready to step in whenever needed despite opting out of the 2020 college season. — Mike Triplett
USA Today - #5 (From #16)
New NBC football analyst Drew Brees kidded (right?) Sunday that “I guess apparently this is what the Saints have been missing.” He was referring to QB successor Jameis Winston, who struck downfield – a capability that should open up the entire attack and especially help RB Alvin Kamara. Is this offense actually better? So far, so good given what New Orleans just did to the Packers ... and under suboptimal circumstances.
CBS - #5 (From #19)
They had the most impressive victory of the weekend in blowing out the Packers. The defense was truly impressive in limiting Aaron Rodgers.
NFL - #10 (From #15)
Jameis Winston has experienced an odd NFL career, so consider it fitting his debut as the Saints’ QB1 featured one of the stranger final lines you’ll ever see: 14 for 20, 148 passing yards, five touchdowns. Yep, New Orleans did pretty much anything it wanted to the Packers, bullying the defending NFC North champs on both sides of the ball and sending Aaron Rodgers to the bench for good with 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter. This outcome tells you so much about the health of the organization: Playing at “home” in Jacksonville in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the Saints would’ve gotten a pass if they’d laid an egg against an elite Packers team. Instead, they trounced them, radically recalibrating 2021 expectations as a result.
Bleacher Report - #10 (From #18)
No playoff team from last year was facing more questions entering 2021 than the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints are breaking in a new quarterback in Jameis Winston. Their top wide receiver (Michael Thomas) is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Things didn’t look good for a Week 1 showdown with a Green Bay Packers team that went 13-3 in each of the past two seasons.
So of course, the Saints pounded the snot out of Green Bay.
Winston completed 70 percent of his passes and threw for five touchdowns. Defensively, the Saints held the Packers to only 229 total yards and forced three turnovers.
It was the most surprising outcome of Week 1, without question.
“With all due respect to Drew Brees, he wasn’t the same player at the end of his career, and it helped that he was surrounded by so much talent,” Gagnon said. “We’re realizing now that this team is talented enough to compete with or without Brees. Then again, we should have realized that when they went 8-1 without Brees in 2019 and 2020.”
Yahoo - #5 (From #20)
Wow. I need to Jameis Winston to show me consistency over the course of the season, but the Saints had the most impressive win of Week 1 by pummeling the Packers.
Sports Illustrated - #12 (From #15)
Jameis Winston is the perfect Week 1 overreaction avatar. Three of his five touchdowns were either the product of a phenomenal receiver catch or a shovel pass. Sean Payton will have this team relevant, but we’d all be safe to pump the breaks on the idea that Drew Brees has been replaced. One can believe in Payton and the Saints’ roster without buying high on the quarterback.
Do you agree with these rankings? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, on Instagram @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel.