Power Rankings: No. 3 New Orleans Saints

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

Preseason: 14 | Last Week: 8 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Well, that didn’t take long.

The New Orleans Saints have quickly vaulted themselves back into the ranks of the NFL’s elite with a 3-0 start. After their thorough 31-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the Saints leapfrogged five teams in the ESPN.com Power Rankings, including the fellow-unbeaten New England Patriots.

Obviously it’s still very early, so the Saints won’t get too comfortable. But after a disappointing 7-9 season in 2012, it’s been a huge confidence boost for the Saints to get off to a fast start this year while other top teams are struggling out of the gates.

And I think the lofty ranking is deserved. The Saints’ track record under coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees proves this fast start is no fluke. In fact, their offense still hasn’t played its best football yet, while the surprising young defense has been leading the way so far.

The Saints will get a chance to prove they deserve their ranking over the next three weeks against three fellow 3-0 opponents (versus the No. 7 Miami Dolphins on "Monday Night Football" in Week 4, at the No. 4 Chicago Bears in Week 5, at the No. 5 Patriots in Week 6).