AP Pro32 ballot from Lynch
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 - Hello Eli - guys to knock down QB in Tuck, Osi, Jason Pierre-Paul, and they keep coming. Are you kidding me?
2. Green Bay - Will be in conversation all year long. How quick we forget they were 15-1 last year. Defense bounces back in 2012 and Aaron Rodgers at helm ... enough said!
3. New England - Patriots keep changing and evolving to compete for trophy every year. A long as they have Kraft, Belichick and Brady around, they will continue to do so.
4. San Francisco - This team is legit and has real shot this year. Dominant defense with 11 starters returning and complex Harbaugh-led offense that benefits from full offseason; more confident Alex Smith and some explosion (Randy Moss) to help Vernon Davis on offense.
5. Baltimore - Suggs loss hurts immensely but this team knows window is closing and will play with urgency reflecting that.
6. Pittsburgh - More change than normal for always-steady Steelers, but they are typically there at end and 2012 should be no different.
8. Denver - Call me a homer but two words: Peyton Manning.
11. Chicago - Bears have stayed course with Lovie Smith and will reap rewards in 2012. Brandon Marshall is a BEAST if he keeps himself out of trouble and adds explosion to already potent offense. Healthy Jay Cutler is a must.
13. Detroit - Extremely talented roster led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, but defensive play needs to live up to hype to become serious contender.
14. San Diego - Pressure is on in San Diego for this team to deliver. To do so, Phillip Rivers needs to return to elite form and new defensive coordinator John Pagano needs to light fire under his unit.
15. Dallas - Romo needs to perform when it matters most. Rob Ryan's defense will benefit from big boost to struggling secondary from cornerback acquisitions Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Someone on this defense not named DeMarcus Ware needs to wreak havoc.
16. Carolina - Cam Newton is even better in Year 2 and defense that struggled mightily in 2012 gets some help from Jon Beason, Thomas Davis and rookie LB Luke Kuechly. Consistent pass rush must emerge to become a force as defense and as team.
17. 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.
20. Buffalo - Hope springs eternal after strong offseason led by signing of Mario Williams. Key to Bills' success is play of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Is he guy who cashed in after strong first half of 2011 or guy who struggled mightily in second half?
21. Tennessee - Wicked tough early schedule makes it difficult for this 9-7 team from year ago.
22. Seattle - Team that finished strong in 2011 needs competition to bring best out of QB position; it hasn't been good since Pete Carroll arrived.
23. Oakland - I believe the Raiders found winner in new head coach Dennis Allen. RB Darren McFadden's return helps, but so much rests on QB Carson Palmer's play. Is he Pro Bowler we saw early in career in Cincy or guy who threw 16 picks in 10 games as a Raider last year?
24. Arizona - Head coach Ken Whisenhunt and coordinator Ray Horton saw exciting young defense develop last year that should only get better. If Cardinals get good play from QBs Kevin Kolb or Jon Skelton, this team will far exceed this spot.
25. Washington - Shanahan has been rebuilding since he arrived in our nation's capital. Did he find final piece with RG3? I believe so, but patience is a virtue.
26. Tampa Bay - Here's hoping my former team makes me eat my words under new head coach Greg Schiano. I like Bucs' talent, especially with additions of Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks that will help QB Josh Freeman rebound. It's hard to erase from my mind this team quitting last year. Attitude adjustment time in Tampa.
27. St. Louis - In time Jeff Fisher will turn this team around. Just not yet.
28. Miami - I like new head coach Joe Philbin and QB Ryan Tannehill, but not this year.
29. Minnesota - Second-worst record in league last year and you start season (at least) without your best player in RB Adrian Peterson.
30. Cleveland - Baby steps in Cleveland with Weeden and Richardson.
31. Indianapolis - New GM, new coach, new QB, new schemes, new roster. It all equals struggles in 2012. Luck is real deal and long term will eventually approach greatness of his predecessor in Indy.
32. Jacksonville - It will take some time for Mike Mularkey to put his stamp on this franchise. A QB would help.
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