AP Pro32 ballot from Gosselin

AP Pro32 ballot from Gosselin
December 26, 2012, 5:13 pm
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Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Rick Gosselin of Dallas Morning News:

Week 17

RICK GOSSELIN (Dallas Morning News)

1. Denver Broncos - The Broncos have won 10 in a row and finish at home Sunday against the lowly Chiefs. That translates into an 11-game winning streak heading into the playoffs. No team is hotter.

2. Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons have transformed themselves from a running team into a passing one with the maturation of Matt Ryan this season. Atlanta ranks fifth in the NFL in passing with Ryan throwing for 4,481 yards and 31 touchdowns.

3. Houston Texans - The Texans are the NFL's best road team with a 6-1 record. That's a nice ace to have in your back pocket if the AFC title game is played in Denver.

4. Green Bay Packers - Ever so quietly, Aaron Rodgers has put himself in position to win back-to-back NFL passing titles. He takes an efficiency rating of 106.2 into the finale. The last QB to win back-to-back was Peyton Manning in 2005-06.

5. San Francisco 49ers - The NFC's best defense is suddenly springing leaks. The 49ers have given up 76 points in the last two games - this after allowing only 184 points over the first 13 weeks.

6. New England Patriots - How far can the NFL's highest-scoring offense take the Patriots? Only six NFL teams have ever scored more points than the 529 of the 2012 Patriots - and New England still has a game to play.

7. Seattle Seahawks - Russell Wilson remains the NFL's only opening-day starter at quarterback who has not thrown for 300 yards in a game this season. It doesn't matter - the Seahawks rank in the Top 4 in both offense and defense and have the best homefield advantage in the NFL.

8. Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens have captured the NFC North with an uncharacteristically soft defense. Baltimore has allowed 321 points - their first 300-point season since 2007.

9. Indianapolis Colts - Can an assistant coach be named the NFL's coach of the year? Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has out himself in that position for his interim work filling in for ailing head coach Chuck Pagano this season.

10. Washington Redskins - All the talk in D.C. has been about RG III - but Alfred Morris has quietly built a strong Rookie of the Year campaign for himself. He ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing with 1,413 yards.

11. Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals are in the playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons. That makes Marvin Lewis the early front-runner for coach of the decade.

12. Chicago Bears - How far can the league's most opportunistic defense take the Bears? Chicago leads the NFL with 40 takeaways - but needs some help from Green Bay this weekend to extend the season into January.

13. Minnesota Vikings - Adrian Peterson needs 102 yards to become just the sixth back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. The smart money says he gets it.

14. Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys are without five defensive starters and playing like it. They have allowed an average of 30 points per game since Thanksgiving with Robert Griffin III, Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees all lighting them up for 300-yard passing games.

15. New York Giants - The wheels have fallen off the Giants bandwagon. Usually strong finishers in branding themselves as a Super Bowl force in recent seasons, the Giants are staggering home with three losses in their last four games to fade from contention.

16. New Orleans Saints - The Saints are playing their best football in December. But it's too little, too late for Drew Brees & Co.

17. St. Louis Rams - Jeff Fisher has won as more games in his first season with St. Louis than he did in his final season at Tennessee. Obviously, a change of scenery was welcome.

18. Miami Dolphins - Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill threw six interceptions in his first six NFL games before the bye. He has thrown only six interceptions in the nine games since the bye. He gives the Dolphins something to build on for 2013.

19. Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers lead the NFL in defense this season, but a paucity of sacks (33) and takeaways (16) have spelled their doom.

20. Carolina Panthers - If the Pro Bowl voting was conducted based on December play, Cam Newton would be on his way to Hawaii. His Panthers are 3-1 and Newton has thrown for 8 touchdowns, run for two others and tossed only one interception.

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Remember when the Bucs played slam-the-door-shut defense? When Tony Dungy left the building, so did the idea of great defense. The Bucs rank 29th in defense.

22. San Diego Chargers - Hard to believe an offense with Philip Rivers at the helm could rank 29th in the NFL. Believe it - offense has been one of many flat tires for the Chargers in 2012.

23. Tennessee Titans - The Titans have allowed seven touchdowns on returns this season - four on interceptions, one on a fumble, one on a kickoff return and one on a blocked punt return.

24. New York Jets - Does it matter who quarterbacks the Jets? They have lost with Mark Sanchez and Greg McElroy and won't give Tim Tebow a chance to lose (or win).

25. Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson needs 50 more yards to accomplish a feat the great Jim Brown could not for the Browns - rush for 1,000 yards as a rookie. Of course, Brown only played a 12-game season back then.

26. Arizona Cardinals - The NFL is now a game that's all about offense. When you have the worst offense in the league, as do the Cardinals, there is no hope. John Skelton, Kevin Kolb and Ryan Lindley have all failed. Is it Brian Hoyer's turn?

27. Oakland Raiders - Did the Raiders once have the slogan, "Commitment to Excellence?" These days there is no commitment and little excellence.

28. Buffalo Bills - The Bills have the longest playoff drought in the NFL at 13 years.

29. Detroit Lions - This season is no longer about the Lions in Detroit. It's all about Calvin Johnson and his quest to become the first receiver in NFL history with a 2,000-yard season. He needs 108 yards in the finale Sunday against Chicago at home. The smart money says he gets it.

30. Philadelphia Eagles - Nick Foles showed great promise as the Eagles' quarterback of the future with 300-yard passing games two of the last three weeks. But his season is now over with a broken hand.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jaguars rank 31st in the NFL in both offense and defense. That has translated into a 2-13 season and a winless December.

32. Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs entered 2012 with Super Bowl aspirations. A disastrous 2-13 season will cost jobs and slow down the rush for season tickets.

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