Twenty-two out of thirty-two (22 out 32). That's where the New Orleans Saints are ranked as the team now stands just a little over 2 weeks away from the official beginning of their 2017 Training Camp.
And while NFL Pre-Season rankings are considered a "dime a dozen" at this time of year and don't always accurately reflect a team's true potential for success (or failure), the sub Top 20 ranking of the Saints could be perceived as a slight or a sign of disrespect by some --- especially among the team's rabid and super-passionate fan-base (a.k.a., 'Who Dat Nation')
In Talk Fame Sports Network’s ranking of all 32 NFL teams before they participate in training camps in later this month, long-time NFL writer, NFL Hall of Fame election committee board member and Associated Press rankings voter Rick Gosselin listed Sean Payton's ball-club at the No. 22 spot.
The New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers respectively claimed the first three spots on Gosselin’s list.
The Saints' hated arch-rivals the Atlanta Falcons, fresh off their historic "melt-down" overtime loss in the Super Bowl to the Patrtiots, are ranked #4 overall.
Gosselin enters his 45th season reporting on the NFL in 2017. He has covered the Lions, Giants, Chiefs and Cowboys in his career plus 34 Super Bowls.
He has served on the Hall of Fame selection committee for 22 years and is a member of both the senior and contributor subcommittees. He also is one of 12 voters for the AP 32, the weekly ranking of NFL teams conducted by The Associated Press.
Here's what Gosselin had to say about the Saints specifically:
22. New Orleans: At age 38, Drew Brees continues to put up Hall-of-Fame numbers. He now ranks third all-time in both passing yards and touchdowns. But his Saints haven’t won a division title in the last five years and haven’t qualified for the playoffs in the last four. Defense (27th in the NFL in 2016) continues to hold New Orleans back.
While it's hard to dispute the facts about the Saints that Gosselin lays out in his reasoning, it could be considered a "slap in the face" particularly by Saints fans --- many of whom believe that New Orleans has methodically rebuilt their roster with an infusion of youth and new talent in the past few NFL Drafts, that could put them "over the hump" and back into the Playoffs in the upcoming 2017 NFL season.
Gosselin's view of the Saints is on par with a majority of writers, observers, and analysts throughout the National Media that cover the NFL, many whom are picking the Saints to finish last in the NFC South division in 2017.
It could also be a reason why that the Saints were the last team in the NFC South on Gosselin's list, ranked behind #4 Atlanta, #13 Tampa Bay and #19 Carolina.....