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Tuesday, December 13, 2011
NFL Power Rankings: Saints rise

By Pat Yasinskas

The New Orleans Saints now are the second-best team in the NFC. That’s according to the latest edition of the ESPN.com Power Rankings.

The Saints moved up to No. 3 after being stuck at No. 4 each of the past two weeks. They also jumped over the San Francisco 49ers, who had been ranked ahead of them in recent weeks. But the 49ers lost and tumbled all the way to No. 6. That leaves the Saints behind only the No. 1 Green Bay Packers and the No. 2 Baltimore Ravens.

Although the Atlanta Falcons rallied in the second half to win at Carolina, that victory didn’t seem to score many points with the voters. The Falcons stayed put at No. 8. But their ranking is fourth-best among NFC teams.

In a mild surprise, the Panthers lost to Atlanta, but still moved up one spot to No. 24. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who opened the season at No. 12, dropped two more spots to No. 28 as their losing streak reached seven games.