AP Pro32 ballot from Kirwan

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Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Pat Kirwan of XM:


1. Green Bay - 15-1 last year and averaged 40 points a game at home. Got better on defense in offseason.

2. New York Giants - World champs got hot at right time to go the distance, but need improvement to repeat. Eli Manning is now elite QB.

3. New England - Got to the Super Bowl with bad defense and worked hard to improve that side of ball in offseason.

4. San Francisco - Defense dominates and Alex Smith finally gets to run same offense two years in row.

5. Pittsburgh - Steelers didn't like way things ended with loss to Denver and came to camp with big chip on shoulders.

6. Baltimore - Loss of two outside linebackers Suggs and Johnson can't be underestimated.

7. Philadelphia - Team that finished season was much better than one that started 2011. Addition of MLB DeMeco Ryans is key to making Eagles top 10 team.

8. New Orleans - As a team I'd rank them higher, but no head coach and suspended players push them down to this spot. However, don't be surprised if they are there at the end.

9. Houston - Offensive line should not start out as good as it was last year. Tennessee is closing gap in AFC South.

10. Atlanta - Have no problem winning in regular season (43 victories over four years). Can they win in postseason with their pass rush and pass protection?

11. Chicago - Offense will be sound and present classic conflict of defending Forte in run game or Cutler/Marshall pass game.

12. Detroit - Offseason was nothing to write home about but this is very physical team with QB moving toward elite status.

13. Denver - Manning makes the difference. Broncos won division last year without him and Peyton makes Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker big factors.

14. Cincinnati - Old Bengals followed good season with bad one. I think defense will live up to its end of bargain, and Andy Dalton takes next step in his career. He will have to because Bengals were 0-8 against playoff teams.

15. Tennessee - A quiet 9-7 in 2011 with Chris Johnson having an off year. He will be much better and this team will be in playoff hunt until end of schedule.

16. San Diego - A lot of people are down on Chargers, see them as underachievers. I think Rivers and company will surprise. QB cleaned up interceptions in second half of year, but defense needs to get after passers.

17. Buffalo - Great offseason puts Bills in situation to rush passer without blitzing. As long as Fred Jackson is healthy they will be playoff contenders.

18. New York Jets - Things got quiet in Jets land after years of guarantees about Super Bowl run. There seems to be QB controversy brewing that could upset chemistry.

19. Kansas City - Three first-round picks on defensive line and they need to play better. Offense will be fine if Chiefs can stay healthy.

20. Dallas - Tony Romo is not problem in Dallas, but he has weight of team on his shoulders. Dallas has to find way to win in NFC East; Cowboys are 5-7 over past two years.

21. Seattle - It's all about the QB in Seattle. Defense will be stingy and they can run ball, but to win more than Seahawks lose Matt Flynn has to come through.

22. Carolina - Panthers' offense will not suffer from second-year setback by Cam Newton, but can defense come through? Still questions at defensive tackle and in secondary.

23. Arizona - Another team with QB question. Whoever gets ball to Larry Fitzgerald should be starter. Defense is better than people think with Dockett and Campbell disrupting most blocking schemes.

24. Miami - Not enough playmakers on roster to consider Dolphins contenders this year. Averaged eight wins a season over last four years, but numbers have been on decline since 2008.

25. Oakland - Raiders haven't had a winning season since 2002 and had roster purge this spring to get under salary cap. At least nine players who contributed significant playing time last season are gone.26. Washington - Redskins beat world champion Giants twice during 2011 regular season and will build upon that, but are breaking in rookie QB.

27. Tampa Bay - Josh Freeman will get back to 2010 form, but young defensive front needs to get better as well.

28. St. Louis - Injuries destroyed this team last year; not one CB in final game went to camp with Rams. Have only 12 wins in last four years, but Sam Bradford has more weapons to work with. This is year Rams begin to climb out of league cellar.

29. Cleveland - Browns drafted key players for offense and will be better in time. Defense is better than people realize, holding seven opponents under 20 points in 2011.

30. Minnesota - Christian Ponder probably starts season without Adrian Peterson and WR Jerome Simpson. Winnable games are in Weeks 1 and 2.

31. Jacksonville - Blaine Gabbert has to make lots of progress quickly in new offense.

32. Indianapolis - In full-blown rebuilding mode. It may not be pretty in 2012, but it will pay dividends in 2013.


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Tagged: Bills, Bengals, Broncos, Raiders, Rams, Vikings, Giants, Seahawks, Panthers, Chris Johnson, Eli Manning, Cam Newton

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