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Saints Week 4 Power Rankings: Analysts tepid on Saints after Week 3 win

The Saints handled the Patriots, but it’s been a roller coaster of a season for New Orleans thus far

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NFL: New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints are in an extremely weird place. After thumping the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, they were beaten handily by the Carolina Panthers in Week 2. Then, they came out and beat the New England Patriots in a performance that felt more dominant than it ultimately was. They’ve become one of the league’s most difficult teams to power rank as a result.

Consequently, power rankers are trying not to be fooled by the Saints this week. They’re very polarizing, with most rankings notching them up a few spots with several exceptions. If the Saints can come out and take care of business against the rudderless Giants next week, it may be easier to get a read on where they stand in the league.

ESPN - #15 (From #17)

The jury is still out on how effective Jameis Winston will be, since the Saints haven’t been in a truly close game yet. He has yet to attempt more than 22 passes or throw for more than 148 yards in a game. That worked great in the Saints’ two victories, since they would love to rely on their defense and run game while avoiding turnovers. And he still provides the deep ball threat, as he displayed with a 55-yard scoring pass in Week 1. But Winston did throw a pair of desperation interceptions when things weren’t going well in Week 2 and got away with an ill-advised TD pass while being hit in Week 3. — Mike Triplett

USA Today - #12 (From #15)

How unfamiliar is New Orleans amid a 2-1 start? Not one player is averaging even four catches or 40 receiving yards per game.

CBS - #14 (From #13)

Winning at New England is a testament to Sean Payton as a coach. They had a lot to deal with to open this season, yet they are still 2-1. Impressive.

NFL - #17 (From #19)

For a decade and a half, the Saints’ greatest strength was obvious: Put the ball in Drew Brees’ hands and let him go to work. The legendary quarterback has moved to the broadcast booth, leaving Sean Payton to find a new identity for the current Saints. In two of the three weeks this season (the first rule of the 2021 New Orleans Saints: don’t talk about the Panthers game), the focal point has been a defense that rattles quarterbacks and sets the tone. We saw that on Sunday, a 28-13 win that featured three Mac Jones interceptions, including a Malcolm Jenkins pick-six. After an endless road trip prompted by Hurricane Ida, the Saints are ready for a joyful homecoming against the winless Giants.

Bleacher Report - #15 (From #19)

Three weeks into the 2021 season, there isn’t a harder team to gauge than the New Orleans Saints.

In Week 1, the Saints blasted the Packers in Jacksonville. New Orleans followed that up by getting waxed by the Carolina Panthers. In Week 3, it was back to the blasting, with a decisive win over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium spurred by big plays on defense and special teams.

There’s a theme running through all three games. If Saints quarterback Jameis Winston plays a clean game, New Orleans wins. If he turns the ball over, not so much.

However, while Winston didn’t throw a pick against the Pats, it wasn’t for lack of trying. The first overall pick in the 2015 draft made a number of questionable decisions with the ball in Week 3, and one of his touchdown passes was thrown up for grabs, and fortuantely for him, Marquez Callaway came down with it.

“The Saints are 2-1, and the defense is good enough to keep the team in quite a few games,” Davenport wrote. “But I just can’t get behind this team as a legitimate threat in the NFC South with Winston as their quarterback. There are just too many throws into places where footballs aren’t meant to be thrown, and for every time he gets away with one there will be another where he won’t.”

Yahoo - #6 (From #18)

Jameis Winston’s passing yardage in his three games with the Saints: 148, 111, 128. The Saints are 2-1 with two good wins, but it’s going to be very hard to keep winning if the offense isn’t much better. Winston is better off when he doesn’t need to do it all, but having a quarterback with 387 yards in three games isn’t going to work long in the modern NFL.

Sports Illustrated - #18 (From #18)

New Orleans is another team that could be higher. I believe that Jameis Winston will improve, particularly with his accuracy, under Sean Payton. I could see the Saints in the playoff mix. But I just don’t see enough overall firepower there.

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