ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 23: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass during the second quarter against the NAtlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 23: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass during the second quarter against the NAtlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
By Evan Bleier / September 26, 2018 5:00 am

Entering the 2018 NFL season, expectations for the New Orleans Saints were quite high.

Coming off a last-second defeat in the playoffs to the Minnesota Vikings, the Saints were bringing back their high-octane office and had added some pieces to anchor their already stout defense.

Then, in Week 1, they got crunched by the Bucs and backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick at home in a game where the defense also got shredded like cheap toilet paper. Prospects for the team didn’t look better in Week 2 as the Saints were a missed field goal away from possibly losing to the Cleveland Browns, also at home.

So heading on the road for a Week 3 matchup in Atlanta, New Orleans seemed primed to get waxed by the high-flying Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan.

Instead, Brees and Ryan put on an offensive showcase, throwing for more than 750 yards combined and totaling 10 touchdowns in all (eight passing, two rushing.)

Over when Brees successfully completed a quarterback sneak from the one-foot line to escape with a W in overtime, the game was just the fourth in NFL history in which a pair of passers combined for 750-plus yards, eight touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

Good enough to stretch the Saints’ record to 2-1 with an extremely winnable matchup against the 1-2 New York Giants on the docket, New Orleans has scored the second-most points in the league – and allowed the most.

It’s an interesting conundrum that makes it difficult to know how far the Saints will be able to march this year.

But how do the power rankers from ESPNNFL.com, and USA Today see New Orleans’s ascent?

Find out in the first edition of RealClearLife‘s Ultimate NFL Power Rankings, which combine ratings from those three outlets to get a single rank for all 32 teams in NFL and use segmented tiers to arrange them.

Also, for an even greater perspective on how the season has been progressing, check out how each team’s season average ranking compares with where they finished this week.

Blue-32, set, hut.

The Best of the Best (1.00-5.33)

No. 1.00, last 1.33, two weeks ago 3.00, season average 1.77: Los Angeles Rams (ESPN, 1), (NFL.com, 1), (USA Today, 1)

No. 2.00, last 3.33, two weeks ago 9.00, season average 4.77: Kansas City Chiefs (ESPN, 2), (NFL.com, 2), (USA Today, 2)

No. 3.33, last 6.66, two weeks ago 1.00, season average 3.66: Philadelphia Eagles (ESPN, 3), (NFL.com, 3), (USA Today, 4)

No. 4.66, last 11.00, two weeks ago 10.00, season average 8.55: New Orleans Saints (ESPN, 5), (NFL.com, 6), (USA Today, 3)

No. 5.33, last 1.66, two weeks ago 5.00, season average 3.99: Jacksonville Jaguars (ESPN, 4), (NFL.com, 4), (USA Today, 8)

The Best of the Rest (5.34-10.66)

No. 7.66, last 12.33, two weeks ago 10.66, season average 10.21: Carolina Panthers (ESPN, 11), (NFL.com, 5), (USA Today, 7)

No. 8.00, last 14.00, two weeks ago 10.00, season average 10.66: Pittsburgh Steelers (ESPN, 7), (NFL.com, 7), (USA Today, 10)

No. 8.66, last 8.00, two weeks ago 19.33, season average 11.99: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ESPN, 13), (NFL.com, 8), (USA Today, 5)

No. 9.00, last 17.00, two weeks ago 23.33, season average 16.44: Miami Dolphins (ESPN, 8), (NFL.com, 10), (USA Today, 9)

No. 10.66, last 8.66, two weeks ago 7.66, season average 8.99: Atlanta Falcons (ESPN, 12), (NFL.com, 14), (USA Today, 6)

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance (10.67-15.99)

No. 12.33, last 4.66, two weeks ago 3.33, season average 6.77: Minnesota Vikings (ESPN, 9), (NFL.com, 9), (USA Today, 19)

No. 12.66, last 11.00, two weeks ago 12.66, season average 12.10: Los Angeles Chargers (ESPN, 16), (NFL.com, 11), (USA Today, 11)

No. 13.00, last 5.33, two weeks ago 6.66, season average 8.33: Green Bay Packers (ESPN, 10), (NFL.com, 12), (USA Today, 17)

No. 13.66, last 12.33, two weeks ago 20.00, season average 15.33: Cincinnati Bengals (ESPN, 14), (NFL.com, 15), (USA Today, 12)

No. 14.33, last 6.00, two weeks ago 2.66, season average 7.64: New England Patriots (ESPN, 6), (NFL.com, 13), (USA Today, 24)

No. 14.66, last 17.00, two weeks ago 12, season average 14.55: Baltimore Ravens (ESPN, 15), (NFL.com, 16), (USA Today, 13)

Stuck in the Middle with You (16.00-21.32)

No. 17.66, last 17.33, two weeks ago 18.33, season average 17.77: Chicago Bears (ESPN, 18), (NFL.com, 17), (USA Today, 18)

No. 17.66, last 23.00, two weeks ago 13.00, season average 17.88: Washington Redskins (ESPN, 19), (NFL.com, 18), (USA Today, 16)

No. 19.00, last 25.66, two weeks ago 27.66, season average 24.10: Cleveland Browns (ESPN, 23), (NFL.com, 20), (USA Today, 14)

No. 19.66, last 20.00, two weeks ago 24.33, season average 21.33: Tennessee Titans (ESPN, 20), (NFL.com, 19), (USA Today, 20)

No. 20.00, last 15.66, two weeks ago 17.00, season average 17.55: Denver Broncos (ESPN, 17), (NFL.com, 22), (USA Today, 21)

It’s Probably Not Your Year  (21.33-26.65)

No. 21.66, last 22.33, two weeks ago 29.66, season average 24.55: Indianapolis Colts (ESPN, 24), (NFL.com, 26), (USA Today, 15)

No. 23.00, last 29.66, two weeks ago 28.00, season average 26.88: Detroit Lions (ESPN, 25), (NFL.com, 21), (USA Today, 23)

No. 23.00, last 27.33, two weeks ago 23.66, season average 24.66: Seattle Seahawks (ESPN, 21), (NFL.com, 23), (USA Today, 25)

No. 24.33, last 20.66, two weeks ago 20.33, season average 22.77: Dallas Cowboys (ESPN, 22), (NFL.com, 24), (USA Today, 27)

No. 26.00, last 24.66, two weeks ago 22.66, season average 24.44: New York Jets (ESPN, 27), (NFL.com, 29), (USA Today, 22)

See You in 2019  (26.66-32.00)

No. 27.33, last 27.66, two weeks ago 19.66, season average 24.88: New York Giants (ESPN, 28), (NFL.com, 25), (USA Today, 29)

No. 27.66, last 31.66, two weeks ago 32.00, season average 30.44: Buffalo Bills (ESPN, 30), (NFL.com, 27), (USA Today, 26)

No. 29.00, last 22.00, two weeks ago 14.00, season average 21.66: Houston Texans (ESPN, 29), (NFL.com, 28), (USA Today, 30)

No. 29.33, last 21.00, two weeks ago 20.33, season average 23.55: San Francisco 49ers (ESPN, 26), (NFL.com, 31), (USA Today, 31)

No. 29.66, last 27.66, two weeks ago 28.00, season average 28.44: Oakland Raiders (ESPN, 31), (NFL.com, 30), (USA Today, 28)

No. 32.00, last 31.33, two weeks ago 30.00, season average 31.11: Arizona Cardinals (ESPN, 32), (NFL.com, 32), (USA Today, 32)