AP Pro32 ballot from Glauber
Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Bob Glauber of Newsday:
BOB GLAUBER (Newsday)
1. Houston Texans - Sixth straight win clinches second straight AFC South title and 11th win sets franchise record. Texans winning in just about every conceivable fashion. Time to start thinking Super Bowl run.
2. Atlanta Falcons - Statement game for the Falcons, who beat the only team they lost to this season and did it in convincing fashion, sending the Saints to only their third loss to Atlanta in the Drew Brees era.
3. New England Patriots - Pats clinch fourth straight AFC East title, although they weren't the offensive juggernaut against Miami we'd been used to seeing. Nothing wrong with grinding one out. AFC championship game preview against Houston on Monday?
4. Denver Broncos - Broncos clinch the division behind the second-most popular quarterback in team history, the one brought in by the most popular. Congratulations to Peyton Manning and John Elway. Well earned.
5. San Francisco 49ers - Colin Kaepernick looked like a championship quarterback when he first filled in for Alex Smith. Now he's looking like an uncertain second-year quarterback going through the usual NFL growing pains. Jim Harbaugh gives him another week as the starter, though, hoping Kaepernick has better luck against the Dolphins at home.
6. Indianapolis Colts - So much for a rebuilding season with a first-year quarterback. Looks like Andrew Luck will be going to the playoffs, thanks to his unprecedented and exhilarating rookie excellence.
7. Baltimore Ravens - Ravens' struggles on offense finally catch up to them on the scoreboard, as that 15-game home winning streak finally ends at the hands of hated AFC North rival Pittsburgh.
8. New York Giants - Where have we seen this movie before? Giants jump out to 6-2 start, then slump badly in second half of the season. Same story almost every year for Big Blue, and this one's no exception. Loss to Washington drops the defending champs to 1-3 in their last four.
9. Green Bay Packers - Nice bounce-back from Green Bay after a rare clunker against the Giants the week before. Even so, that run defense is still a huge issue.
10. Seattle Seahawks - Russell Wilson is just fun to watch. His winning drive in overtime is just the latest example.
11. Chicago Bears - Bears' normally reliable defense can't contain Russell Wilson in overtime, and Chicago will have to sweat out this last month. Playoffs still likely, now just a matter of whether they or the Packers win the division.
12. Cincinnati Bengals - Bengals come up with late interception to seal the win over San Diego and stay within striking distance of a second straight playoff berth, something that hasn't happened under Marvin Lewis.
13. Washington Redskins - Man, does RG III love the spotlight. Kid beats Giants to move his team within a game of first place in the NFC East.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers - A week after stinking it up in Cleveland, Charlie Batch plays the hero in Baltimore and keeps the Stillers in the thick of the playoff race. Still need Ben Roethlisberger to make a run, though.
15. Dallas Cowboys - Tony Romo surpasses Troy Aikman in career touchdowns as the Cowboys hang on against Philly and keep their playoff hopes alive. Soft schedule down the stretch works in their favor.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Doug Martin a mere mortal against the Broncos, which makes it tough on Bucs' playoff hopes. Wild card race is crowded, but three of last four against teams with losing record. And finale is against Atlanta, which may rest starters by then.
17. Minnesota Vikings - Another vintage performance by Adrian Peterson only proves that you need big-time quarterbacking to win in this league. Christian Ponder just isn't showing that right now.
18. St. Louis Rams - If the Rams could only play as well against other teams as they do against the 49ers, they'd be in the playoffs. Terrific effort, especially on defense, against the Niners.
19. New Orleans Saints - Looks like that burst after an 0-4 start is finally over. Only a miracle saves the Saints.
20. Miami Dolphins - Even after losing to the Pats, Miami still mathematically alive in the playoff race. But chances don't look good, especially with a road game against a 49ers team in bounce-back mode after loss in St. Louis.
21. Detroit Lions - A lot of soul-searching for this team, especially after back-to-back meltdowns at home.
22. Buffalo Bills - Progress comes in different ways for teams, and the Bills can at least say that there's still something left to play for down the stretch. Haven't been able to say that about them lately.
23. Cleveland Browns - Ah, the rarefied air of two straight wins. Hasn't happened very often since the Browns came back to Cleveland in 1999.
24. New York Jets - Mark Sanchez gets yanked for the first time, and Greg McElroy saves the day against the Cardinals. Will Rex Ryan pull the plug on the Sanchez era?
25. San Diego Chargers - There's just no end to how many ways the Chargers can find to lose games. Philip Rivers' late-game interception in the endzone was just the latest.
26. Tennessee Titans - Only question now is whether Bud Adams makes sweeping changes in the offseason.
27. Carolina Panthers - Poor defense has hurt the Panthers all season, and Sunday in Kansas City was no exception.
28. Arizona Cardinals - Quarterback problems don't get much bigger than what the Cardinals face right now. Will Ken Whisenhunt pay for it with his job?
29. Philadelphia Eagles - Another week, another loss, another defensive assistant fired. Plenty more firings ahead, starting most likely with the head coach.
30. Kansas City Chiefs - Football the least important part of an extraordinarily difficult time for a Chiefs' team dealing with Jovan Belcher's murder-suicide. Amazing how well they kept it together on Sunday against the Panthers.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars - Brutal day for Chad Henne against the Bills only muddles the Jags' uncertain quarterback situation even more.
32. Oakland Raiders - Five straight losses and counting, and now a Thursday game against the Broncos. Just a complete mess at every level
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
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