Vic­to­ri­ous Saints de­throne Rams from No. 1 spot

USA TODAY International Edition - - SPORTS - Nate Davis

NFL power rank­ings, post-Week 9 edi­tion: 1. Saints (pre­vi­ous rank­ing, 2): Hand­ing Rams their first de­feat earns cat­bird seat. But de­spite own­ing key tiebreaker, New Or­leans has much tougher path to NFC’s top seed.

2. Rams (1): Af­ter get­ting roasted by Drew Brees, CB Mar­cus Peters was sum­mar­ily roasted on so­cial me­dia. Aqib Talib’s re­turn will be im­por­tant way point.

3. Pa­tri­ots (3): Bill Belichick has to be won­der­ing if for­mer pro­tégé Matt Pa­tri­cia will pro­vide any po­ten­tial cheat codes to fel­low rookie HC Mike Vra­bel this week. 4. Chiefs (4): Patrick Ma­homes con­tin­ues grab­bing head­lines, but de­fense qui­etly jelling into de­cent unit even as it adapts sans Justin Hous­ton, Eric Berry.

5. Charg­ers (5): Next three op­po­nents 6-19 col­lec­tively. Bolts will be in mix for AFC’s best record — not that “home” play­off games would help them much. 6. Steel­ers (6): Wouldn’t they be bet­ter off if Le’Veon Bell sim­ply opts not to show up at all — as odd a finan­cial strat­a­gem as that would ul­ti­mately be?

7. Pan­thers (8): Af­ter wasted rookie year, 2017 sec­ond-rounder Cur­tis Sa­muel steadily be­com­ing next weapon in this at­tack with three TDs last three weeks.

8. Vik­ings (9): Bal­anced offense, re­turn of a smoth­er­ing de­fense — this prob­a­bly pretty close to type of team Mike Zim­mer en­vi­sioned all along.

9. Ea­gles (10): Do bye weeks get bet­ter? In­jury bug bit down hard on NFC East-lead­ing Wash­ing­ton. Mean­while, Philly picked up Golden Tate. Champs are back. 10. Ben­gals (12): When you have half-game lead for final wild card, New Or­leans isn’t team you want com­ing out your bye, espe­cially with A.J. Green hurt.

11. Fal­cons (14): Hal­loween’s over, but are these NFL’s zom­bies? Af­ter win­ning three in a row, they’re back from dead, knock­ing on door of play­off field.

12. Bears (15): They got flexed into “Sun­day Night Foot­ball” for Week 11. Let’s hope Khalil Mack’s an­kle healthy enough to al­low him to play.

13. Tex­ans (17): It’s not fair to di­min­ish a six-game win­ning streak against NFL com­pe­ti­tion, but Mi­ami (5-4) is only vic­tim with win­ning record on list.

14. Red­skins (7): And we were wor­ried Adrian Peter­son might break down. In­stead, pretty much all of Wash­ing­ton’s O-line is sud­denly in street clothes. 15. Pack­ers (11): Close-but-no-cigar out­comes have worn thin, espe­cially since we’ll now won­der how de­fense would have looked if Ha Ha Clin­ton-Dix re­mained. 16. Ravens (13): As sea­son stun­ningly

spi­rals away, might be time to give Lamar Jack­son a shot rather than con­tinue un­ten­able Joe Flacco-Jack­son pack­ages.

17. Sea­hawks (16): Nice to see first­class LB K.J. Wright back. Seat­tle will need him en­ter­ing defining stretch against Rams, Pack and Pan­thers.

18. Dol­phins (20): Ré­sumé sug­gests Frank Gore, never an all-pro, isn’t Hall of Famer. Stats say oth­er­wise. He just passed Barry San­ders with sixth-most scrim­mage yards.

19. Ti­tans (21): Wisely start­ing to al­low this offense to flow through RB Dion Lewis, who carved Dal­las up for 122 yards in Mon­day night’s up­set.

20. Cowboys (18): Just one game, but ad­di­tion of WR Amari Cooper did lit­tle to mask this offense’s big­ger is­sues — Dak’s lim­i­ta­tions and line’s strug­gles.

21. Jaguars (22): Leonard Four­nette was back on prac­tice field Mon­day, but is his po­ten­tial re­turn too lit­tle, too late? Maybe not af­ter glance at sched­ule.

22. Lions (19): Matthew Stafford gets sacked 10 times ... offense has sea­son­low 209 yards (just 66 rush­ing) ... we’re look­ing at you, O-line.

23. Buc­ca­neers (23): What’s left to say? Fi­nal score was re­spectable Sun­day, but this was offense’s least pro­duc­tive day of 2018 de­spite Fitz­magic’s re­turn. 24. Browns (24): Bruce Ari­ans wants this job. We want Bruce Ari­ans back on NFL side­line. We want Bruce Ari­ans

teamed with Baker Mayfield. This should hap­pen. 25. Jets (25): Shake it off, Sam. Joe Na­math threw at least 27 in­ter­cep­tions in three differ­ent sea­sons ... not to sug­gest you have that kind of lee­way.

26. Bron­cos (27): Jeff Heuer­man about to be­come pickup du jour in fan­tasy leagues starved for de­cent tight end op­tions. We might be over­selling this. 27. Colts (26): Un­less they va­ca­tioned dur­ing bye week, play­ers won’t have to leave state of In­di­ana dur­ing No­vem­ber. Now’s time to make a move.

28. Car­di­nals (29): They can use some in­spi­ra­tion. Maybe sign­ing Au­rora, Colorado, shoot­ing sur­vivor Zack Golditch will pro­vide it ... while bol­ster­ing O-line.

29. 49ers (31): Poor Jimmy Garop­polo. He has a full year to won­der if he just got Ma­jkowski’d by some rel­a­tively un­known kid out of South­ern Mis­sis­sippi.

30. Gi­ants (28): Team that should be search­ing for next quar­ter­back had to han­dle rookie Kyle Lauletta’s “traffic deal,” per Pat Shur­mur, dur­ing bye. Next. 31. Bills (30): Team that be­lieves it found its next quar­ter­back can only hope rookie Josh Allen’s el­bow is sound enough to al­low his re­turn soon. 32. Raiders (32): very

Welp. At least it was en­ter­tain­ing read­ing Jon Gru­den’s lips Thurs­day and watch­ing him side-eye de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Paul Guen­ther.

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