AP Pro32 ballot from Lynch
Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter John Lynch of Fox Sports:
JOHN LYNCH (Fox Sports)
1. Denver Broncos - The Broncos kept rolling all the way to the No. 1 seed. They have the makeup of a championship team. Peyton Manning, an excellent defense and an explosive special teams return unit with Trindon Holliday.
2. New England Patriots - The Patriots returned to their days of Super Bowl glory this season with a more balanced offensive approach. That, coupled with the dizzying tempo with which that offense plays and a youthful defense that has toughened up combine to make the Patriots a very tough out.
3. Green Bay Packers - I know they just lost to Minnesota, but at this time of the year ride the best QBs and Aaron Rodgers is a great one. That defense will have to show more for the Pack to have true staying power in the playoffs.
4. Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons did not look sharp in their season-ending loss to the Bucs and two of their better defensive players were injured. Nonetheless, I like this team to end its previous playoff woes and do some damage this time around.
5. Seattle Seahawks - Seattle looks the part! We will see if they are up to it.
6. San Francisco 49ers - San Francisco has a great defense. Kaepernick appears great at times, but can he be consistent enough to flourish in the postseason?
7. Washington Redskins - Mike Shanahan and his staff are doing a masterful coaching job and the Skins are hot.
10. Baltimore Ravens - The Raven's are in a bit of a free-fall with the firing of their offensive coordinator at 9-4 and injuries continuing to take a toll.
12. Minnesota Vikings - AP continues to amaze! Can they go into Lambeau and repeat their magical victory from last week?
13. Chicago Bears - The Bears did their part in Week 17, but their longtime nemesis, the Green Bay Packers defeated them yet again when they couldn't beat the Vikings. Lovie Smith did some great things leading the Bears and someone would be fortunate to hire him elsewhere.
14. New York Giants - A disappointing season for the defending champs. To return to glory, the dominant pass rush that was in hibernation in 2012 must wake up in 2013.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers - They will be back. They didn't seem right all year and are aging on the defensive side of the ball. They will figure it out under the leadership of Mike Tomlin, the Steelers always do and Big Ben is not going anywhere.
18. Carolina Panthers - Their late season surge appears to have saved coach Ron Rivera's job. If Cam can continue to mature and do it consistently, they have a vicious pass rush to match.
19. St. Louis Rams - The Rams have a long way to go, but Jeff Fisher's first year gives you confidence that it can happen in St. Louis.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Greg Schiano changed the culture in Tampa and they made great strides in 2012. They return some front line starters like OGs Carl Nicks, Davin Joseph along with DE Adrian Clayborn. The key is QB Josh Freeman, who Schiano wants to but can't totally trust as the franchise as of yet and a pass rush and some corners that can improve the defense.
21. Miami Dolphins - First year coach Joe Phibin did a nice job with the Dolphins in 2012. QB Ryan Tannehill impressed and looks to be the real deal. He needs an infusion of talent at the wide receiver position to shine in 2013.
22. San Diego Chargers - A new GM and coach will be present with the Charger's in 2013. Can Philip Rivers get back to where he once was? That is as or more important to the Chargers new brass moving forward.
23. Buffalo Bills - The Bills have a defensive foundation in place for whoever their new coach will be. QB will be the first big decision for the new man in charge as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's play didn't cut it in 2012.
24. Tennessee Titans - A bad year for the Titans, who have decided to give Mike Munchak one more year to figure it out.
25. New York Jets - Ugly season. The GM is out, the coach is back. Who will be their QB?
26. Cleveland Browns - The Browns made some progress in 2012 and have some pieces in place and waiting for a new coach and GM to lead them.
27. Arizona Cardinals - Exhibit 1A as to how important the QB position is in today's NFL. New coach and GM in Arizona as well. This seems to be a theme.
28. Detroit Lions - Exhibit 1A that talent alone doesn't win you games in the NFL. This team was undisciplined, uninspired and just plain bad in 2012. Sorry Calvin, you were awesome!
29. Philadelphia Eagles - Andy Reid should be applauded for all he gave to this organization and the city of Philadelphia as he moves on.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars - There's always next year.
31. Oakland Raiders - The Raiders are making changes to their offensive staff. It may take a couple of years to dig themselves out of a terrible cap situation that this regime inherited.
32. Kansas City Chiefs - Tough year for the Chiefs.
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