Power Rankings: Saints back in top 3 – NFL.com

This is one magnificent module!!

Here at the Power Rankings, we feel very confident about the order of the first two teams. Things get a little tricky after that.
Through four weeks, the Patriots and Chiefs feel like the class of the NFL. But who else should we believe in? The Saints move into the top three on the strength of a pair of great performances without Drew Brees. The Cowboys should be fine despite their Superdome speedbump. But after that? This job is hard.
Let’s do our best to sort this mess out.

NOTE: The previous rankings referenced in the lineup below are from the Week 4 Power Rankings.

Previous rank:
No. 1 The
Patriots’ defense
balled out again Sunday, forcing four turnovers in a tough road matchup against an equally game
Bills defense. When the revitalized
Jamie Collins
snatched a Matt Barkley floater out of the air for the game-clinching interception, it finished a day of covering for New England’s slumping offense. Here’s a great stat
from Greg Bedard: The Pats have had 22 possessions since taking a 20-0 lead over the
Jets
in Week 3 — only four of those drives have gone longer than five plays. Brady looked utterly lost in Buffalo, finishing with 3.8 yards per attempt — in the dreaded Gabbert Zone for NFL quarterbacks. When Bill Belichick settled for a 23-yard field goal with the Pats up 13-10 and sitting at the
Bills’ 4-yard line late in the third quarter, was it a show of faith in his defense or a signal of doubt in his Brady-led attack? Probably both.

Previous rank:
No. 2 So much for a dome environment
unlocking even greater powers for
Patrick Mahomes. The reigning MVP threw for 315 yards, but finished without a touchdown pass
against the Lions at Ford Field — ending a 14-game streak in which he’d thrown at least two TD strikes per game, one short of the NFL record. Still, Mahomes made magic when it mattered most for the undefeated
Chiefs. Down 30-27 and facing a fourth-and-8 with less than two minutes to play,
Mahomes scrambled 15 yards to move the chains.
Darrel Williams would cap a 13-play, 79-yard drive with
a 1-yard touchdown plunge. Meanwhile, the decision by
Chiefs corner
Bashaud Breeland to scoop up a loose football at his own goal line and run it back 100 yards the other way
for an uncontested touchdown will serve as a teaching tool for offensive and defensive coaches going forward. (
The lesson? Play through the damn whistle!) A 14-point swing in a game ultimately decided by four points.

Previous rank:
No. 10 It’s not just that the
Saints are now 2-0 with
Drew Brees
sidelined. It’s who they’ve beaten — the
Seahawks
in Seattle and the
Cowboys
at the Superdome — and the manner in which they’ve done it. These have been team-wide efforts illuminating just how deep and well-coached this group is. You’d have to think these are two of the most rewarding regular-season wins of Sean Payton’s illustrious run in New Orleans. On Sunday, the
Saints’ defense forced three turnovers and held a talented
Cowboys attack to just 257 yards in a 12-10 win. It was the rarest of outcomes for New Orleans, which won for the first time in the Payton era without scoring a touchdown. It would help if Brees’ fill-in at QB,
Teddy Bridgewater, gave the team a little more — he’s been more down than up so far — but the
Saints are showing they don’t need a star under center to stack wins. How many teams can claim that?

Previous rank:
No. 4 Time to tap the brakes on the Kellen Moore
Hall of Fame induction. The
Cowboys’ first-year offensive coordinator received plenty of praise during the team’s 3-0 start, but his attack came down to Earth in Sunday’s
12-10 loss to the Saints. The Big Three told the story of the evening’s struggles: quarterback
Dak Prescott failed to throw a touchdown pass, running back
Ezekiel Elliott averaged 1.9 yards per carry and lost a fumble and receiver
Amari Cooper was blanketed by New Orleans coverage ace
Marshon Lattimore. To make matters worse, the
Cowboys lost
Tyron Smith
to an ankle injury on the first play of their fruitless final possession. Tough night, but Dallas remains in good shape and should still be regarded as an NFC favorite … even if the
Saints planted a seed of doubt at the Superdome.

Previous rank:
No. 8 What an incredible display by the
Bears’ defense, which absolutely suffocated a talented
Vikings offense in
a decisive 16-6 win at Soldier Field. Chicago was in complete control of the line of scrimmage and lived in the Minnesota backfield, making life hell for an overwhelmed
Kirk Cousins, who was sacked six times. Most impressive? The
Bears dominated their division rival on a day when they were missing five starters and lost their quarterback on the first drive of the game. Mitch Trubisky suffered a left shoulder injury and
is doubtful for this Sunday’s game against the
Raiders in London. Backup
Chase Daniel was an ideal hold-the-fort guy against the Vikings; the question is whether the veteran would be able to remain at that level over an extended stretch. The
Bears are talented enough that they don’t need superstar play at quarterback to win. Trubisky or Daniel just needs to make enough plays … then get out of the way.

Previous rank:
No. 17 The
Eagles produced a tremendous team effort on Thursday night at Lambeau Field. Facing an undefeated
Packers team, on the road, on a short week, with several key players still sidelined, coach Doug Pederson received huge efforts from both sides of the ball in
a crucial 34-27 win. The defense stepped up with two goal-line stands in the fourth quarter, and the running game gave the offense much-needed balance on the way to 176 yards.
Carson Wentz threw for just 160 yards, but he finished with three touchdowns and avoided the big mistake. Green Bay quarterback
Aaron Rodgers couldn’t say the same thing after his forced end-zone pass in the final minute led to
the game-clinching interception by
Nigel Bradham. Now 2-2, the
Eagles get nine days to recover and prep before the winless
Jets
come to town. Order has been restored.

Previous rank:
No. 7 The
49ers were assigned the unwelcome and entirely too early Week 4 bye, but at least they get to revel in the glory of a 3-0 start for another week. Two major areas of progress for the Niners, who are already just one win away from matching their total from last year: 1) They are making impact plays on defense that weren’t happening a year ago. San Francisco has forced seven turnovers in three games, matching their total for the entire 2018 season. 2) The running game has been excellent.
Matt Breida (226 yards, 5.5 YPC) and
Raheem Mostert (202 yards, 5.9 YPC) lead a rushing attack that entered Week 4 ranked fourth in the NFL. Quarterback
Jimmy Garoppolo, meanwhile, has shown incremental progress as he works his way back from ACL surgery, and the Niners have done well not to put too much on his shoulders in the early going.

Previous rank:
No. 3 You can imagine Sean McVay waking up Monday morning
(assuming he ever went to bed) and thinking to himself,
How the

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