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.