Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC South [Print without images]

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
NFL Power Rankings: Saints tumble?

By Pat Yasinskas

The latest ESPN.com Power Rankings are out and I’m more than a little shocked at some of the NFC South results.

Let’s start with the New Orleans Saints. They had a firm grip on the No. 2 ranking the last two weeks. They won on Sunday and so did the No. 1 Green Bay Packers. So logic would say the Saints stay at No. 2, right? Well, the voters, particularly John Clayton and James Walker, who each put the Saints at No. 4, didn’t think so. That caused the Saints to tumble to No. 3 in the overall rankings.

The New England Patriots moved up to No. 2. I really don’t see a reason for this. The Patriots were at home Sunday and they defeated the New York Jets. The Saints were on the road and they defeated the Carolina Panthers. I don’t think there’s a big difference there. In fact, the Panthers might be every bit as good as the Jets right now.

The other thing that surprised me is that the Atlanta Falcons stayed firm at No. 19 after Sunday night’s loss to Green Bay. Yeah, there’s no question the Packers are the best team in the league at the moment. But it’s not like the Falcons deserve any style points for this one. They built a 14-0 lead in their own building and then watched as the Packers scored 25 straight points. I’m not sure the Falcons, as talented as their roster may look, belong in anyone’s top 20 right now.

I’m not at all surprised that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell five spots, from No. 11 to No. 16. That’s what happens when you go out to San Francisco and get beat 48-3.

And I’m not surprised the Panthers stayed at No. 24 for the second straight week. They hung with the Saints right down to the final minute. Carolina is 1-4, but the Panthers are playing everyone tough. You can see this is a team on the verge of turning the corner. The Panthers are going to pull some upsets as time goes on. Some of those upsets could come against the Falcons and the Bucs, if they don’t straighten out their problems.