We’re off and running towards Week 2 of the NFL regular season, and the New Orleans Saints are fortunate to start the year 1-0. They’ll be looking for their first 2-0 start in a decade against the Carolina Panthers on Monday night.
But how are the vibes surrounding this team? To put it another way, what are their expectations around the league? How are they perceived among their peers? To find out, we’ve surveyed the latest round of NFL power rankings from various media outlets to get an idea:
USA Today: 12 (10)
Bit of a slow start offensively, yet encouraging nonetheless given the presence of WR Michael Thomas (5 catches, 61 yards) and temporary absence of RB Alvin Kamara.
Touchdown Wire: 22 (20)
The Saints should still somehow be credited with a loss for their performance Sunday. What an abysmal showcase of football. That offense has a long way to go if they are going anywhere in the NFC South.
Bears Wire: 15 (17)
The Derek Carr era didn’t get off to a bang in New Orleans, it was more of a light tap. Still, Carr helped the Saints win a close one over the Titans thanks to timely third-down conversions. A healthy Michael Thomas also helps when it comes to the passing attack.
ESPN: 15 (19)
The Saints took a risk when they traded veteran Wil Lutz to the Broncos in favor of keeping a rookie. But Grupe proved why the Saints took the gamble. He kept them in the game through three quarters before the Saints were able to score a touchdown and was poised under pressure with a 52-yard field goal to tie things up 9-9 in the third quarter. Quarterback Derek Carr sealed the game late with a third-quarter touchdown, but Grupe quietly bolstered the Saints reasoning for keeping him on the 53-man roster.
NFL.com: 14 (16)
Derek Carr got his first win as a Saint, and the defense carried an outsized load in the victory over the Titans. But let’s talk special teams, because those units helped tip the game in New Orleans’ favor. Rookie kicker Blake Grupe won a camp battle and showed why against Tennessee, making all three field goals (including a game-tying 52-yarder) and his only extra point. He also blasted five touchbacks. Punter Lou Hedley is just as inexperienced, but he averaged 48.2 yards on five punts. Zack Baun’s blocked punt — with Steve Gleason in the house! — shows why he made the team despite having a minimal role on defense. The Saints have some things to clean up, but there were subtle shades of 2006 magic on Sunday.
Yahoo! Sports: 13 (17)
Rashid Shaheed is a really good player. The Saints receiver had some impressive stats per snap last season as a rookie, and it carried over to Week 1 when he had 100 total yards and a touchdown. The Saints have a lot of weapons, and they need to turn those weapons into more than 16 points like they had Sunday.