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Power Rankings: Where do the Saints stand with two games remaining?

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NFL: New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Here are how the five major power rankings view the New Orleans Saints heading into their Week 17 battle with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

NFL.com - 23 (-2)

“They’re getting extra time to prepare for the suddenly hot Buccaneers, but can the Saints turn this season around? Both Tampa Bay and Atlanta won in Week 16, pushing New Orleans into third place in the NFC South. This past Thursday’s loss to the Rams was a wicked setback, as Alvin Kamara was completely contained and some of New Orleans’ biggest bugaboos this season (tackling on defense, finishing drives on offense) were exposed once again. The Bucs dominated the Saints in New Orleans in the first meeting back in Week 4 — and Tampa Bay is arguably a much better team now than it was then, currently riding a four-game win streak. It might be up to Derek Carr and the offense setting the tone in the rematch, and there have been signs of improvement there. But right now, coming from third place to win the division feels like a steep climb — as does leapfrogging four NFC teams for a wild-card spot.”

ESPN - 23 (-2)

Best rookie: DT Bryan Bresee

The Saints’ first-round pick has played in every game and has taken about half the defensive snaps as part of the overall rotation. He has 3.5 sacks — which is tied for ninth among rookies. Bresee almost gets this nod by default as the rest of the 2023 draft class hasn’t done much with the exception of S Jordan Howden, who has seven starts due to injuries. — Katherine Terrell”

Bleacher Report - 20 (-2)

“There was quite a bit of coal involved in Christmas for the New Orleans Saints. That the week began with a loss to the Los Angeles Rams was bad enough. But wins by the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers made things that much worse.

Now, as Bob Rose wrote for Saints Sports Network, there remains just one path to the NFC South title for the Saints—and it isn’t a particularly likely one.

‘New Orleans must beat both Tampa Bay and Atlanta to finish the year with a 9-8 record,” he said. “Additionally, the Buccaneers must lose their season finale at the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are 2-13 after their Week 16 loss to the Green Bay Packers. If that scenario plays out, the Saints would be the NFC South champion. If the Saints lose either of their last two contests, they will officially (mercifully?) be eliminated from postseason contention. There is no other scenario where New Orleans can win their division.’

It’s not like the Saints have anyone to blame but themselves. The offense has spent far too much of the season settling for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. When the offense has gotten it together, the defense has faltered.

The Saints just haven’t played like a postseason team, at least not with any consistency.”

CBS Sports - 22 (-3)

“Their season comes down to this week’s game with Tampa Bay. They need it to have any playoff chance.”

USA Today - 17 (+1)

“Now in Year 10 of his NFL career, QB Derek Carr has never played for a division champion. Lose Sunday at Tampa, and his wait will extend into Year 11.”

AVERAGE RANKING: 21 (-2)