|Published:||Sep 04, 2012 6:26 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Sep 05, 2012 6:31 AM EDT|
NEW YORK (AP) - Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Pat Kirwan of SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com:
PAT KIRWAN (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com)
1. Green Bay Packers - 15-1 last year, averaged 40 points a game at home, got better on defense in offseason. Ced Benson will stabilize run game.
2. New York Giants - Eli Manning an elite QB and so is pass rush. Perfect combination to beat good teams. Liked team's humility and preparation on my camp tour stop.
3. New England Patriots - Patriot no-huddle offense will put up points, and defense will cause problems. Got to Super Bowl in rebuilding phase, are better today. I sat down with Tom Brady on my camp tour and he seemed more focused this year than ever and he loves his weapons.
4. San Francisco 49ers - Niners don't beat themselves. Alex Smith ready for small jump in passing game especially with new weapons. Can they beat elite teams is another question. Sitting down with Alex Smith on my camp tour gave me great insight into where this offense is headed in 2012 and it will be better than 2011.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers - Will be balance on offense, which doesn't mean 60% run, but Steelers will make teams defend run and then beat them with play action. There are health issues at linebacker but this team overcomes problems every year. During my camp tour stop with the Steelers they were already blitzing on nearly every down and Dick LeBeau is not going to let a few linebacker injuries curtail the rush.
6. Baltimore Ravens - Offense looked impressive to me on my camp tour. I really liked their no-huddle attack. Defense may not be driving force they once were but far from a liability.
7. New Orleans Saints - No head coach, questionable pass rush and concerns - but not enough to think they aren't playoff team. Will have to outscore teams more than usual but emotional edge will carry them.
8. Atlanta Falcons - Have won 43 regular season games in last four years and Matt Ryan and his weapons are better now. Defense needs more pass rush and pass protection is an issue.
9. Philadelphia Eagles - Can Michael Vick stay healthy for 16 games? It is a high risk counting on him for season. In NFC East with pass rush all the teams can create, life will be tough on Vick. Defense will be better but I get sense pressure mounting in Philly.
10. Houston Texans - Texans won a lot of games with third string QB and premier wide receiver that misses games. Houston wins five of their division games and another five from the 10 remaining and they're division champs again. Wonder if running game will be as good with two starting offensive linemen from 2011 gone.
11. Chicago Bears - If Urlacher plays all 16 games then I have team in right spot. If injuries starting to catch up with him, they fall from top half of league. I like what the offense is doing and Cutler to Marshall should be good for close to 100 receptions.
12. Detroit Lions - Injuries and off the field issues seem to follow this talented football team. Stafford hurt his non-throwing hand in week three of the preseason but he should be fine.
13. Denver Broncos - I was impressed with Bronco offense when I visited the camp. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen could all have career years with Peyton Manning running offense. Defense has nice looking pass rush unit, and Peyton will put opponents in catch-up mode.
14. Cincinnati Bengals - I am excited about this young aggressive team, but they still have to prove they can beat playoff team. Last year, 0-8 against playoff teams is challenge for Andy Dalton and teammates. They open against Ravens in statement game. Already have five players on IR, more than any team in NFL.
15. Tennessee Titans - Titans are a quiet team that decided to start a second year QB Jake Locker instead of veteran Matthew Hasselbeck. There will be a learning curve and it may show up as an extra loss in the first half of the season. I do expect a solid season from Chris Johnson.
16. San Diego Chargers - Glad to see ownership give Norv Turner one more shot at getting it right. Broncos and Peyton Manning getting all attention, and maybe it's good Chargers flying under the radar. Rivers cleaned up early 2011 interception problems and should be in every game this year.
17. Seattle Seahawks - Maybe surprise team of 2012. Russell Wilson sparks offense and receiving group coming together. Defense is physical and secondary is biggest in NFL.
18. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton will not suffer sophomore slump and his receiving weapons look improved. Can defensive line and pass rush live up to their end of bargain? If so, team could move up.
19. Dallas Cowboys - Always so much pressure in Dallas to get to Super Bowl that the team just needs to focus on one game at a time. Injuries will hurt chances in opener against Giants, but it's a long season and they will contend.
20. Buffalo Bills - I was impressed with defense during my camp visit, especially front four. As long as Fred Jackson is healthy offense will move ball. More attempts in deep passing game will help loosen things up. Wild card is not out of realm of possibility.
21. New York Jets - More they play around with Tim Tebow and Sanchez, less I like where they're headed. Sanchez was No. 5 in NFL last year in red zone TD passes. Why disrupt that with wildcat?
22. Kansas City Chiefs - On paper, very solid team. Like running backs, receivers, and parts of defense. Should be higher, but until they show me they stay where they are.
23. Washington Redskins - RG3 has developed nicely since start of camp. Seeing field better and starting to trust pocket and his eyes. Defense can get after people. Lot to ask for team to become 9-win outfit with rookie QB in NFC East.
24. Oakland Raiders - Paper thin with all roster moves needed to clean up contract problems. If they stay healthy, they will compete. A few injuries and it will be waiting until 2013.
25. Arizona Cardinals - Decision to start John Skelton over Kevin Kolb may not be permanent one with the way tackles pass block. Defense solid and will hold own week in and week out, but that may not be enough.
26. Indianapolis Colts - After watching Andrew Luck play, I think Colts could win 5 or 6 games. Wins may come in second half of season, but they play too hard to be basement dwellers.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Bucs might be more of a rebuild than I thought. I still believe in Josh Freeman, but his pass protection took major hit when they lost Davin Joseph. Defense still young up front and will take time.
28. Minnesota Vikings - Early in season, offense may look more like 49ers - two running backs, two tight ends - as they try and survive. Adrian Peterson can't be work horse he typically is and Jerome Simpson is out with a suspension.
29. St. Louis Rams - New coach Jeff Fisher has overhauled roster especially on defense, but there's still a lot of work to do. If they stay healthy, they will be slightly better than last year with more of an eye to 2013.
30. Cleveland Browns - Three rookie starters on offense is a tough call. I do like Brandon Weeden, but there are already people saying Colt McCoy is just as good. I'm not buying that yet. Didn't like to see Joe Haden and coach Pat Shurmur have words on field, but it happened and they move on. Hope it's not early signs of frustration.
31. Miami Dolphins - A rookie QB, a short list of decent receivers, a rookie right tackle struggling, an empty stadium spells trouble. Schedule does have four winnable games in first six, but if they don't get off fast, rest of season could be rough.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars - The best player, MJD hasn't been there since end of 2011 season and his leadership skills have eroded. Owner has dug in heels on contract extension talks, and team just committed to multiple games in London.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL