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Saints Week 1 Power Rankings: Saints seen as middling by most outlets

Entering 2021 with a lot of questions, no one quite knows what to do with the Saints

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NFL: New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints are entering 2021 with a ton of questions. They have a new starting quarterback, a temporary home, and several new faces on defense. That ultimately means a lot of unknowns.

Those unknowns are made abundantly clear by the preseason power rankings. Every outlet has the Saints between No. 15 and No. 21, which means one thing: People are reticent to trust Jameis Winston, but they don’t want to write the Saints off just yet.

ESPN - #19

Both QBs have a great opportunity to inherit a playoff offense in the wake of Drew Brees’ retirement. And both have shown enough growth through three weeks of training camp to prove they deserve a legitimate shot at an NFL starting gig. But the runner-up in this battle will face a very uncertain future. Both are scheduled to be free agents after this season, and it’s hard to imagine either one of them will find an opportunity this good on the open market next year. — Mike Triplett

USA Today - #16

Who wasn’t a little jazzed about watching new QB1 Jameis Winston slinging it deep downfield in preseason, something we didn’t see retired predecessor Drew Brees do effectively in recent years? But also hard not to be concerned for a team again relegated to itinerant status as it waits for New Orleans to become habitable following the wrath of Hurricane Ida.

CBS - #19

Jameis Winston opens as the starter at quarterback in the post-Drew Brees era, but you know the Taysom Hill gimmick will be a big part as well. Sean Payton loves the makeup of this team, but will the fallout from being displaced by a hurricane impact their start?

NFL - #15

The damage caused by Hurricane Ida has forced the Saints to open their season in Jacksonville instead of New Orleans, an undeniable competitive setback for a team that has historically enjoyed one of the better home-field advantages in football playing under the roof at the raucous Caesars Superdome. Consider it just one more layer of uncertainty for a Saints team that has more question marks than perhaps ever before during Sean Payton’s long and successful tenure with the team. One of those question marks surrounds Jameis Winston, whose golden opportunity for a career rebirth begins in earnest against the Packers.

Bleacher Report - #21

High: 17

Low: 21

The New Orleans Saints need a hug.

It was bad enough that the Saints headed into 2021 having to replace the irreplaceable. But now, in addition to deciding whether it will be Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston who succeeds Drew Brees at quarterback, the team will have to open the season without its best wide receiver.

Per Myles Simmons of Pro Football Talk, Michael Thomas will be sidelined indefinitely after undergoing surgery in June to repair ligament damage in his ankle. It’s a bizarre situation, both in that the injury happened all the way back in Week 1 of the 2020 season and that news of the surgery didn’t break until over a month after it happened.

As Simmons’ colleague Mike Florio wrote, Nick Underhill of reported that things get even weirder from there.

“Thomas saw a specialist after the 2020 season ended,” Florio said. “The specialist believed that Thomas possibly could rehab the injury and avoid surgery. Thomas, according to the report, was supposed to spend a month or so attempting to heal the ankle and then return to the specialist to see whether surgery would be needed. Underhill reports that the return visit never happened.”

It’s quite the mess—one that Davenport thinks settles the QB debate.

“With no wide receivers of note on the roster, the Saints have to start Hill,” he said. “The team is going to need his running ability—and even then, New Orleans is in serious trouble offensively.”

Yahoo - #20

The Saints won’t have a home game in September. The opener was moved to Jacksonville due to Hurricane Ida. They were already dealing with a new quarterback in Jameis Winston and missing star receiver Michael Thomas. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Saints start very slow.

Sports Illustrated - #15

Week 1: vs. Packers (in Jacksonville)

The Saints are going with Jameis Winston to fill Drew Brees’s shoes, and now we’ll learn more about what a QB whisperer Sean Payton is.

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