AP Pro32 ballot from Kirwan
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. Houston Texans - A shaky performance especially on defense this week giving up 36 points to the Jaguars, but the offense prevailed in overtime. For now they keep the top spot, but there are teams on the rise.
2. San Francisco 49ers - The win over the Bears with a backup QB was all I needed to move them up to the No. 2 spot. Their passing game is really starting to come alive.
3. Atlanta Falcons - Another shaky performance, but this one was by the Falcon offense and five interceptions by Matt Ryan. Holding down the No. 2 spot is going to be difficult if it happens again.
4. Denver Broncos - The Bronco machine led by Peyton Manning is looking good and the defensive effort with pass rushers and the return of DJ Williams makes them tough.
5. New England Patriots - It is going to be very tough to beat the Patriots at home, where they put 59 points on the Colts. Aqib Talib will help a questionable secondary.
6. Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens proved they can overcome lots of injuries and win against good teams. I wonder what was going to happen last week if Roethlisberger was healthy?
7. Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers can put points on the board, but the defense has lots of issues. Dom Capers does a masterful job to cover problems up, but how far can they go?
8. Chicago Bears - The loss to San Francisco raised some serious questions about their defense. The offensive pass protection is starting to fall apart, and without Cutler the Bears will continue to struggle.
9. Seattle Seahawks - The 'Hawks had a bye last week, but are one tough outfit that will run the ball on any team and play tough defense. Russell Wilson needs to win on the road and they move up.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers - They almost beat the Ravens without Big Ben, but then again Leftwich struggled to complete passes. If the Steelers have to throw more than 25 times a game they are in trouble.
11. New York Giants - On a well needed bye. They better return to the form of September or they are heading down the rankings.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Schiano has injected toughness and a resolve into this young team that never quits. The Bucs can score on any team right now.
13. Indianapolis Colts - It's too much to ask rookie QB Andrew Luck to throw 50 times a game. He needs better support from the running game and defense if they want to stay in the playoff hunt.
14. New Orleans Saints - I really should move them up even higher the way they're playing. One former head coach said 'that's the team I would least like to play right now.'
15. Minnesota Vikings - On a bye last week and a chance to rest AP, who is running better than ever. Christian Ponder needs to be more consistent if they want to make the playoffs.
16. Cincinnati Bengals - A.J. Green may be the best receiver in football right now, Dalton has his confidence back and the defense is back on track. A dangerous team going forward.
17. Dallas Cowboys - They probably should have lost the Cleveland game, but they didn't. The Cowboys have an easy schedule and a lot of home games. It will be their own fault if they don't make a run.
18. Detroit Lions - The Lions have the parts to be a very good team, but it has yet to come together. They will win some games down the stretch, but it looks like 2013 before the playoffs.
19. San Diego Chargers - What a frustrating season for all concerned in San Diego. Changes probably coming at the end of the season. Philip Rivers has to find his game and return to the great deep ball thrower and efficient QB.
20. Washington Redskins - RG3 gives them a chance every week. The future is bright, but the club probably needs one more year to get it all tied together.
21. Miami Dolphins - The running game disappeared, the run defense has been challenged and the young quarterback is going to take time to develop.
22. New York Jets - Leave Tebow on the bench, stop talking about the playoffs and just keep grinding away at the season.
23. Buffalo Bills - The team is not meeting expectations but last week they looked like the team Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey are trying to build. They could be a tough out the rest of the way.
24. Tennessee Titans - Coming off a bye and hoping Jake Locker can spark this team. Chris Johnson is back in form, but the defense needs to improve. The owner's frustration could be a problem for a head coach building this team the right way.
25. Arizona Cardinals - The defense is playoff caliber and the offense just struggles. Rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley coming off the bench for performance reasons last week was a surprise, but next week they get Beanie Wells back which could help stabilize the offense.
26. St. Louis Rams - I thought they had enough to beat the Jets, but of course they didn't get it done. Fisher will need a whole season to figure out what he has to do next year to improve this roster. For now they should be satisfied to get to six wins.
27. Carolina Panthers - There are moments when Cam Newton looks like a superstar and there are other times he looks frustrated and the defense has a bead on him. Expectations were too high coming into 2012.
28. Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles have landed and they will not fly again in 2012. It is tough to watch a team penciled in for a Super Bowl run falling this far down the rankings. Now LeSean McCoy has a concussion.
29. Cleveland Browns - There is no quit in this team and there were a few calls in the Dallas game that turned a win into a loss. The young players are really starting to play well.
30. Oakland Raiders - A paper thin roster, a defense that struggles a fullback at the running back spot because of injuries and the results are predictable. Everyone from the owner on down has to have some patience.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars - Chad Henne put a spark into this team and they should play him the rest of the way if they want any fans in the seats next year.
32. Kansas City Chiefs - The lost season!
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