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Saints power rankings: Week 16

Saints look to move up after completing sweep of Falcons

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Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

ESPN - #24 (From #26)

Pleasant surprise: WR Rashid Shaheed

Shaheed joined the team as an undrafted rookie coming off an ACL tear and has battled for more playing time with each week. He is consistently coming up with huge plays and showing off his speed as both a wide receiver and kick returner. He averages 22.3 yards per catch. He has been one of the biggest surprises among the Saints’ young players and is in line to replace Deonte Harty, who entered this season on a restricted free agent tender before going on season-ending IR. — Katherine Terrell

USA Today - #24 (From #26)

They’re also 5-9, but this is where getting swept by the Bucs really puts a damper on New Orleans’ hopes for a postseason return.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

CBS - #26 (From #26)

They beat the Falcons, which keeps them alive in the playoff race. Just barely. But the schedule is tough going foward.

NFL - #25 (From #27)

The Saints are somehow, almost impossibly, still in the race for the NFC South title after a 21-18 win over the Falcons. The victory, coupled with a Bucs loss to the Bengals, moves New Orleans within one game of the division leaders with three games to play, though Tampa owns the tiebreaker thanks to a season sweep of New Orleans. (It’s all so silly, but let’s embrace it.) It’s been a frustrating year for the offense, but the Saints have something in Juwan Johnson, a college wide receiver turned undrafted NFL tight end who scored twice on Sunday and set a career high with 67 receiving yards. The emergence of Johnson, paired with an extremely promising rookie campaign by wideout Chris Olave, gives New Orleans something to build on moving forward.

Bleacher Report - #25 (From #27)

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find something good to say about the NFC South. The New Orleans Saints were the only team in the division that won Sunday. Barring a miracle, the NFC South will become the first division in league history to put two sub-.500 teams in the postseason.

But hey, at least Juwan Johnson had a day against the Falcons.

Johnson’s play has been a bright spot in a season mostly bereft of them. After the third-year pro hauled in four passes for 67 yards and two scores, Saints quarterback Andy Dalton talked up the athletic young tight end.

“Juwan has done a lot of really good things,” Dalton said. “Both touchdowns were good run-after-catch plays by him. So, I feel like he’s playing with a ton of confidence. ...

“We’ve had opportunities to take some deep shots with him, and he’s come down with a lot of them.”

Now that the good news has been dispensed with, here’s the reality: The Saints aren’t going to win the division, because they aren’t good. New Orleans has zero first-round picks in 2023. It is upside down to the tune of almost $54 million against the 2023 cap.

Give it a year, and the team may look at being 5-9 as memories of the good old days—because odds are good the Saints aren’t close to the bottom yet.

PFT - #25 (From #29)

More Taysom Hill, please.

Sporting News - #25 (From #29)

The Saints marched away with a huge win over the Falcons to create a three-way tie for second place in the NFC South. On paper, being less than No. 2 behind the Buccaneers has been a disappointment.

Average ranking: 25 (From 27)

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