|Published:||Sep 04, 2012 6:21 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Sep 05, 2012 6:31 AM EDT|
NEW YORK (AP) - Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter John Lynch of Fox Sports:
JOHN LYNCH (Fox Sports)
1. New York Giants - To be champ you've got to beat champ. They embody formula for success in today's NFL: franchise QB, guys to knock down QB in Tuck, Osi, Jason Pierre-Paul ... are you kidding me?
2. Green Bay Packers - Will be in conversation all year long. How quick we forget 15-1 last year. Defense bounces back, Aaron Rodgers at helm ... enough said!
3. New England Patriots - Patriots keep changing and evolving to compete for trophy every year. As long Kraft, Belichick and Brady around, they will continue to do so. Offensive line shaky during preseason, but will figure it out.
4. San Francisco 49ers - Team legit, has real shot this year. Dominant defense with 11 starters returning. Harbaugh-led offense benefits from full offseason; more confident Alex Smith and some explosion (Randy Moss) to help Vernon Davis.
5. Baltimore Ravens - Suggs loss hurts immensely but team knows window is closing and will play with urgency reflecting that.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers - More change than normal for always-steady Steelers, but they are typically there at end and 2012 should be no different. Look to have adapted to Todd Haley's offense, but concerns abound with injuries to O-line.
7. Atlanta Falcons - Model organization from Arthur Blank to Mike Smith to Matt Ryan on down, and it now has to man up in playoffs.
8. Denver Broncos - Call me a homer but two words: Peyton Manning.
9. Philadelphia Eagles - Michael Vick returns to Vick of 2010 and talented defense comes together. Andy Reid's job on line and Eagles will respond.
10. New Orleans Saints - Bounty scandal and resulting suspensions take Saints from top five to ninth. Drew Brees keeps them in top 10.
11. Houston Texans - Young and talented team gets very underrated QB back this year in Matt Schaub and has shown it can play through injury.
12. Chicago Bears - Bears have stayed course with Lovie Smith and will reap rewards in 2012. Brandon Marshall is BEAST if he keeps himself out of trouble. Healthy Jay Cutler a must.
13. Detroit Lions - Extremely talented roster led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, but defensive play needs to live up to hype to become serious contender.
14. Dallas Cowboys - Romo needs to perform when it matters most. Rob Ryan's defense will benefit from big boost to struggling secondary from CB acquisitions Carr and Claiborne. Someone not named DeMarcus Ware needs to wreak havoc.
15. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton even better in Year 2 and defense that struggled mightily gets help from Jon Beason, Thomas Davis and rookie LB Luke Kuechly. Consistent pass rush must emerge.
16. San Diego Chargers - Pressure's on. Philip Rivers needs to return to elite form and new defensive coordinator John Pagano needs to light fire. Depth concerns knock them down 3 spots in this ranking.
17. Kansas City Chiefs - Chiefs get major "juice" and playmaking ability back with return of RB Jamaal Charles, S Eric Berry and TE Tony Moeaki. QB Matt Cassel needs to return to solid form of 2010.
18. Tennessee Titans - Wicked tough early schedule makes it difficult. Preseason really showed Mike Munchak is building tough, disciplined, talented and deep roster.
19. Seattle Seahawks - Team that finished strong in 2011 needs competition to bring best out of QB position. Surprise, surprise, it's Russell Wilson that emerged as starter.
20. Cincinnati Bengals - Will QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green shine again or is book out on them and stage set for sophomore slump? As they go, so go Bengals.
21. Washington Redskins - Shanahan rebuilding since he arrived. Did he find final piece with RG3? I believe so, but patience is a virtue. Preseason showed depth is vastly improved.
22. New York Jets - Team with leadership and chemistry issues, but we forget it's team that has won lots of football games since Rex Ryan arrived. You have to score to win and that appears a major struggle now.
23. Buffalo Bills - Hope springs eternal after offseason led by signing of Mario Williams. Key to success is play of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Is he guy who cashed in after strong first half of 2011 or guy who struggled in second half?
24. Oakland Raiders - Believe Raiders found winner in new coach Dennis Allen. RB Darren McFadden's return helps, but much rests on QB Carson Palmer. Is he Pro Bowler or guy who threw 16 picks in 10 games as Raider?
25. Indianapolis Colts - Hate to be flip-flopper, but Colts gain six spots because they pass eye test. Andrew Luck is real deal ... Coach Chuck Pagano has team believing. He's got me believing, too!
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Like Bucs' talent, especially with additions of Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks that will help QB Josh Freeman rebound. Schiano impressed in preseason as he is relentless taskmaster.
27. Arizona Cardinals - Coach Ken Whisenhunt and coordinator Ray Horton saw exciting young defense develop last year that should only get better. Problem is neither Skelton nor Kevin Kolb inspired belief at QB.
28. Miami Dolphins - I like new coach Joe Philbin and QB Ryan Tannehill, but not this year.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars - Will take time for Mike Mularkey to put stamp on franchise. A QB would help. Well, Gabbert looked like different guy in preseason and MJD is back and that pulls Jags from cellar.
30. St. Louis Rams - In time Jeff Fisher will turn this team around. Just not yet.
31. Minnesota Vikings - Second-worst record in league last year and your best player RB Adrian Peterson coming off major knee injury.
32. Cleveland Browns - Baby steps in Cleveland with Weeden and Richardson.
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