Where do the latest NFL power rankings have the New Orleans Saints going into Week 1’s showdown with the division-rival Atlanta Falcons? Here’s the take from Mark Lane over at Touchdown Wire, who slots the Saints at No. 18:
“The Saints may not have Sean Payton, but they still have cohesion with much of the coaching staff still in place. Dennis Allen coached in place of Payton during some COVID absences, and Pete Carmichael is still running the offense. The Saints also have one of the best reserve quarterbacks in the NFL in Andy Dalton.”
That’s fair. While there is a lot to like about the Saints as they’re currently built, there are plenty of valid questions about how well they’ll perform without Payton on top of the organization. Will we see the same efficient Jameis Winston that flashed last season or could he regress after missing a lot of time with an injury (and without Payton’s influence)? How much has Allen learned in the decade since his last stint as a head coach? We’ve just got to hurry up and wait to find out.
As for the other NFC South teams: Lane has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on top (at No. 6), with the Carolina Panthers (No. 29) and Atlanta Falcons (No. 30) in the basement. That lines up with the consensus from NFL power rankings we’ve surveyed across the league media landscape.