2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 7: Buccaneers Surge After Topping Saints

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a bounce back win over the New Orleans Saints. Where do they stand in the power rankings?

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2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 7: Buccaneers Reach No. 10 In CBS Rankings

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers recovered in a big way on Sunday. A week after a 48-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Bucs returned home and fended off the New Orleans Saints, 26-20, improving to 4-2 and tying them atop the NFC South standings. The victory moved CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco to bump Tampa Bay up five slots in his NFL Power Rankings, to No. 10 overall.

How'd the Bucs turn around so well? Prisco credits the team's coach and its quarterback:

Give Raheem Morris big props for getting his team to bounce back against a good Saints team after that San Francisco thumping. Josh Freeman did the same.

Morris kept his team focused, Freeman posted his best passer rating (95.9) since Week 16 of the 2010 season, and the Bucs look as though they've returned to form. They battle the Saints again on Nov. 6--in New Orleans this time--in what figures to be a crucial matchup. In the meantime, they have the Chicago Bears this Sunday, followed by their bye week.

Prisco ranks the Bucs ahead of the Saints, as he dropped New Orleans to No. 12 following its loss to Tampa Bay. Elsewhere in the division, the Atlanta Falcons rank No. 12 after defeating the Carolina Panthers, who stay at No. 22.

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2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 7: Tampa Bay Climbs To No. 9 In FOX Rankings

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers certainly made a point when they defeated the New Orleans Saints, 26-20, on Sunday. Actually, they made several, according to FOX Sports analyst and former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick, who saw fit to move Tampa Bay to No. 9 in his NFL power rankings, a four-spot improvement over last week. In fact, the Bucs' four-spot climb is the largest of any club in Billick's most recent rankings.

Which points did the Bucs make? According to Billick, they are:

  • "The 45-point loss in Week 5 was an aberration;"

  • Earnest Graham (17 carries, 109 yards) can "admirably" fill in for LeGarrette Blount whenever needed;

  • And Josh Freeman "play[ed] up to the hype" after an uneven start to the 2011 season.

As SB Nation Tampa Bay editor Steve Slowinski pointed out, Freeman indeed had his best game of the season (23-of-41 passing, 303 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, 95.9 passer rating), though there's still room for improvement, namely in completing passes inside the 40-yard-line.

The Saints dropped to No. 6 in Billick's rankings following their loss to the Buccaneers. Elsewhere in the division, the Atlanta Falcons improved to 3-3 by defeating the Carolina Panthers, earning the No. 11 spot in Billick's rankings. The Panthers, now 1-5, held steady at No. 22.

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2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 7: Bucs Nearly Crack ESPN's Top 10

Behind a strong effort from quarterback Josh Freeman (303 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions) and a sound run defense (70 yards allowed), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers knocked off the New Orleans Saints, 26-20, on Sunday to tie New Orleans atop the NFC South.

Topping New Orleans, however impressive, still isn't enough to boost the Bucs into the top 10 of ESPN's NFL power rankings. The Worldwide Leader's panel of voters moved the Bucs up to No. 12, a four-spot improvement, but they're not quite in the league's top tier just yet. After all, there's still the matter of their losing by 45 points to the San Francisco 49ers just one week prior to consider.

Elsewhere in the NFC South, the Saints dropped from No. 3 to No. 5 as a result of their loss to Tampa Bay. The Atlanta Falcons held steady at No. 19 after defeating the Carolina Panthers, 31-17. Carolina dropped to No. 25.

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2011 NFL Power Rankings, Week 7: Buccaneers Bounce Back After Win Over Saints

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a bounce back win over the New Orleans Saints, and that is reflected in their latest position in the SB Nation Power Rankings.

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