|Published:||Sep 04, 2012 6:16 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Sep 05, 2012 6:31 AM EDT|
NEW YORK (AP) - Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Bob Glauber of Newsday:
BOB GLAUBER (Newsday)
1. New York Giants - Tom Coughlin's preseason motto: "Build a bridge." That bridge just might lead to New Orleans next February.
2. New England Patriots - Defending AFC champs have NFL's easiest schedule, meaning Tom Brady ought to be carving up opposition with great regularity.
3. Baltimore Ravens - Joe Flacco looks ready for breakout season. If that's case, team goes deep into January. Perhaps beyond.
4. Green Bay Packers - No worries about Aaron Rodgers, who can afford a few missteps after last year's nearly perfect MVP season. Real worry is defense, which finished last in yards allowed in '11.
5. San Francisco 49ers - Class of NFC West, which means another divisional title. But keep this tidbit in mind: Teams that improve dramatically from one year to the next - as Niners did - come back to pack following season.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers - Ben Roethlisberger-Todd Haley relationship one to watch, especially as Stillers patch together offense without substantial running game until Rashard Mendenhall's return. Stillers' defense worth watching, too.
7. Philadelphia Eagles - Loaded with playmakers on both sides, but it's No. 7 who has to stay healthy. Could be Michael Vick's best - and possibly last - shot to have special season in Philly.
8. Houston Texans - Matt Schaub back in lineup, Arian Foster still there, and Wade Phillips' defense ready for another solid year. Texans win AFC South and have puncher's chance at Super Bowl run.
9. Denver Broncos - Preliminary answer about Peyton Manning's health encouraging. Now it's matter of holding up over long haul. If he does, Denver rules division and makes playoff picture more interesting.
10. Chicago Bears - Feeling better about Bears closer we get to season. Were on 7-3 roll before Jay Cutler got hurt, so if he stays healthy, they stay close to Packers and compete for wild card spot.
11. New Orleans Saints - Is coaching overrated in NFL? We're about to find out. Saints start season with interim (Aaron Kromer) to interim (Joe Vitt) for Sean Payton. And they still might be class of the division. Especially with Steve Spagnuolo's influence on defense.
12. Atlanta Falcons - If Saints stumble in post-Bountygate season, Falcons there to take over. But this is no longer about regular season excellence. This is about winning a playoff game - or more - in Matt Ryan/Mike Smith era.
13. Detroit Lions - Bar now raised after last year's playoff run. But competition fierce in NFC North, and this might be year to step back for Lions.
14. Dallas Cowboys - Tony Romo too often gets bad rap for being problem in Dallas. He comes off great statistical year, but there wasn't enough around him to pull off playoff run. Fearing that might be case again in '12.
15. Kansas City Chiefs - Key players missing last year - Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry - are healthy again. Enough? Not if Peyton Manning has any say. Looks like wild card run at best for Romeo & Co.
16. San Diego Chargers - Philip Rivers comes off career high 20 interceptions in 2011. Bounce-back year gives Chargers a chance. A losing season, and Norv Turner gets the gate.
17. New York Jets - Zero touchdowns for first-team offense in preseason has Jets' fans worried, but not Rex Ryan. Don't think they'll be as bad as others expect. Don't think they'll be good enough for playoffs, though.
18. Carolina Panthers - Division crowded with contenders, and that might include Panthers. Can't say enough about Cam Newton's leadership and ability. A surprise team in '12? Could be.
19. Cincinnati Bengals - Overachievers last year, but expectations now higher. Not sure Andy Dalton can keep pace with Flacco and Roethlisberger one more time.
20. Oakland Raiders - In division that could be up for grabs, Raiders have chance to surprise. Defense can be decent, but Carson Palmer has to do his part by not turning ball over.
21. Buffalo Bills - Spent fortune on free agent defensive end Mario Williams, but it's handsomely paid quarterback that makes us reluctant to anoint them as playoff contenders. Sorry about that, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
22. Washington Redskins - RG3 has taken DC by storm, and games haven't started. Don't expect miracles, but defense should keep team competitive. Relatively mistake-free play from QB will make rebuilding process less painful.
23. Indianapolis Colts - More we see of Andrew Luck, more we like. A lot. Poise, arm strength, leadership. Has it all. And we think it will translate sooner rather than later.
24. Seattle Seahawks - Russell Wilson one of most refreshing stories of season. Now comes hard part for 5-10 QB. Playing games. Will be a work in progress. We suspect Matt Flynn will get chance before long.
25. Arizona Cardinals - John Skelton wins quarterback duel with Kevin Kolb, which means Cardinals' $65 million QB starts season on bench. But Skelton is no Kurt Warner, so don't be surprised to see Kolb down road.
26. Tennessee Titans - Mike Munchak did terrific job keeping Titans competitive, but learning curve for first-year starter Jake Locker will be steep. Settle in. This may take a while.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars - Maurice Jones-Drew is back on Shad Khan's train, and all is right again. Jones-Drew will be back in form soon enough, but Blaine Gabbert's improvement - or lack thereof - will determine how far team goes.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Greg Schiano's no nonsense approach has rubbed off on players, and that discipline will help on field. What'll help even more is if Josh Freeman starts throwing touchdowns again.
29. Minnesota Vikings - Leslie Frazier feels good about upcoming season, especially with Adrian Peterson on mend from knee injury. Wish we could say same. Just not sold on Christian Ponder as answer at quarterback.
30. St. Louis Rams - Sam Bradford looked a lot more comfortable in Brian Schottenheimer's offense during preseason. He still needs more playmakers around him.
31. Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson gives Browns elite running back they badly need. They think they have their guy at QB in Brandon Weeden. Record won't improve right away, but at least there's hope.
32. Miami Dolphins - Most entertaining part of season now over. Hope you enjoyed Hard Knocks. Now it's on to games with a rookie quarterback, weakest receiving corps in league and RB in Reggie Bush who will see eight-man fronts all year.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL