Power Rankings: No. 3 New Orleans Saints

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

Preseason: 14 | Last Week: 3 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Technically, the Saints (4-0) stayed put at No. 3. But it feels like they moved into that upper tier with the No. 1 Denver Broncos and No. 2 Seattle Seahawks after a dominant 38-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Monday night.

That’s because the Saints’ prolific passing offense truly exploded for the first time this season, with quarterback Drew Brees throwing for 413 yards and four touchdowns (96 or more yards for Darren Sproles, Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston). The Dolphins looked lost trying to cover all of those matchup nightmares. That’s what the Saints’ passing offense looked like in 2011 (a 13-3 season), when Brees shattered Dan Marino’s NFL record with 5,476 passing yards and 46 touchdown passes.

The Saints' run game remained grounded Monday, but they still had offensive balance with short passes to Sproles and Pierre Thomas. And the revamped Saints defense continued to play a huge role with four turnovers and four sacks.

With that combo, the Saints are once again bona fide Super Bowl contenders. But so far, we’ve mostly seen them picking on teams on their home turf. We’ll learn even more about them on the road over the next two weeks at the No. 9 Chicago Bears (3-1) and No. 4 New England Patriots (4-0).