Power Rankings: No. 3 New Orleans Saints

A weekly examination of the Saints' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 14 | Last Week: 5 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Saints (10-3) must be feeling a little dizzy right now, the way they've moved up and down these rankings. But that’s how the past few weeks have gone for them, with maybe their ugliest loss (at Seattle) and most impressive win (versus Carolina) in back-to-back weeks.

You could argue whether the Saints or New England Patriots (10-3) should be ranked third, since the Patriots won their head-to-head matchup. But that battle doesn’t matter when it comes to playoff seeding. The Saints’ current standing in the NFC is pretty clear right now: They’re below the Seahawks and ahead of the 49ers and Panthers, both of whom they beat head-to-head.

When I look at these Power Rankings overall, I see an obvious top two (Seattle and the AFC-leading Denver Broncos -- though you could debate the order). Then I think the next three teams (New Orleans, New England and the San Francisco 49ers) all belong in that second tier together. They’ve all shown some inconsistency. But they’re all veteran teams that have played in Super Bowls recently. And all three are capable of making another Super Bowl run if they get hot and lucky enough at the right time.

Although Denver and Seattle look awfully strong right now, remember, it’s been four years since a No. 1 seed won the Super Bowl (the Saints after the 2009 season).