Power Rankings: No. 8 New Orleans Saints

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

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

The New Orleans Saints held steady at No. 8, which is fitting after they squeaked out a 16-14 victory at Tampa Bay. It was a good win -- but not exactly a pretty one. And for the second week in a row, the No. 8 ranking seems just about right for a 2-0 Saints team that is still trying to prove it is back among the upper echelon of NFL contenders.

A strong case could be made that the Saints should be ranked ahead of the No. 6 Atlanta Falcons, since they beat them head-to-head in New Orleans in Week 1. But I don’t have a problem with the Saints being ranked behind three 1-1 teams (No. 3 San Francisco, No. 5 Green Bay and No. 6 Atlanta). The Saints haven’t been overwhelmingly good enough to move ahead of those proven contenders just yet.

It’s a scary thought for the rest of the NFC, though, that the Saints are already playing with a lead (including a 2-0 record in the division) while their high-powered offense hasn’t even found its rhythm yet. If what we’ve seen so far from the Saints’ defense is legitimate, they’ll only continue to move up this list.

If the Saints take care of business over the next two weeks in back-to-back home games against the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins, they could easily be a top-five team by the end of the month.