AP Pro32 ballot from Gosselin
Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Rick Gosselin of Dallas Morning News:
RICK GOSSELIN (Dallas Morning News)
1. Denver Broncos -- The Broncos closed the season with a league-best 11-game winning streak to claim the top seed in the AFC bracket of the playoffs.
2. Atlanta Falcons -- For the second time in the last three seasons the Falcons are the NFC's top seed. But Atlanta hasn't won a playoff game since the 2004 season.
3. New England Patriots -- The Patriots were the third highest-scoring team in NFL history this season with 557 points. Only the 2007 Patriots (587) and 2011 Packers (560) scored more.
4. San Francisco 49ers -- The 49ers have the best defense in the NFC -- and sterling defense took San Francisco as far as the NFC title game last season.
5. Houston Texans -- Only two teams finished in the NFL's Top 10 in both offense and defense this season, the Texans and Broncos.
6. Green Bay Packers -- Aaron Rodgers won his second consecutive NFL passing title, completing 67.2 percent of his passes with 39 touchdowns and only eight interceptions for an efficiency rating of 108.0.
7. Seattle Seahawks -- The Seahawks were the only NFL team to finish with a perfect 8-0 home record this season. But in qualifying for the playoffs as a wild card, it's unlikely Seattle will play another game at home this season.
8. Indianapolis Colts -- Chuck Pagano is the only NFL head coach to go unbeaten this season at 1-0. Interim coach Bruce Arians put the Colts into position for a playoff berth with a 10-5 record filling in while Pagano was battling cancer.
9. Baltimore Ravens -- The Ravens turned the ball over 16 times this season. That tied with Green Bay, New England and San Francisco for fewest in the league -- and explains why all four teams are playing this January.
10. Washington Redskins -- Rookies finished third and fourth in the NFL in passing this season -- and both rookies took their teams to the playoffs. Robert Griffin III finished third in passing for the Redskins and Russell Wilson fourth for the Seahawks.
11. Cincinnati Bengals -- Mike Zimmer has made himself a front-burner candidate for all these NFL head coaching vacancies with another superb season coordinating the Cincinnati defense. The Bengals finished sixth in defense with a bunch of no names.
12. Minnesota Vikings -- Adrian Peterson finished nine yards short of the NFL single-season rushing record but couldn't have drawn a more favorable opponent in the playoffs than the Packers. He rushed for 210 and 199 yards in his two games against them this season.
13. Chicago Bears -- The Bears were the only team to finish in double digits in victories this season (10-6) and fail to make the playoffs. It cost coach Lovie Smith his job.
14. New York Giants -- Like the Bears, the Giants were the only other NFL team to finish with a winning record (9-7) and fail to qualify for the playoffs. So the Giants won't get the chance to defend their NFL championship this January.
15. Dallas Cowboys -- The Cowboys were 4-4 at home, 4-4 on the road and allowed more points (400) than they scored (376). That explains why the Cowboys extended their playoff-less streak to three seasons.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers -- The Steelers finished first in the NFL in defense, first in pass defense and second in run defense but still missed the playoffs. So much for the adage, "Defense wins championships."
17. St. Louis Rams -- The Rams finished the season as the NFL's most penalized team with 130 for 978 yards. Coach Jeff Fisher needs to clean that up for St. Louis to compete for a playoff spot in 2013.
18. New Orleans Saints -- Drew Brees had another spectacular season for the Saints, passing for league highs of 5,177 yards and 43 touchdowns. But it wasn't enough to overcome the NFL's worst defense.
19. Miami Dolphins -- Rookie Ryan Tannehill threw only two interceptions in the final six games and the Dolphins defeated Seattle and were competitive in losses to New England and San Francisco during that stretch.
20. Carolina Panthers -- If the Panthers had played the first six games (1-5) like they played the last six (5-1), GM Marty Hurney would still have a job and the Panthers would likely be a playoff team.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- When the Bucs won their only Super Bowl in 2002, they led the NFL in pass defense, allowing only 1,554 yards. Ten years later, they now have the worst pass defense in the NFL, allowing 4,758 yards.
23. Tennessee Titans -- The Titans allowed an NFL-leading 471 points this season -- 141 more points than they scored. Little wonder Tennessee finished 6-10. If you can't keep your opponent out of the end zone, you can't win.
25. Cleveland Browns -- The Browns managed to win five games with the youngest starting lineup in the NFL. But the next head coach will benefit from the experience those young players gained this season. The Browns fired coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert.
26. Arizona Cardinals -- The Cardinals finished a dismal 5-11 and fired coach Ken Whisenhunt -- one of the three former Super Bowl coaches to get the ax on Black Monday (also Andy Reid and Lovie Smith).
27. Oakland Raiders -- The Raiders need to find a way to keep Darren McFadden healthy. He rushed for 100 yards three times this season and the Raiders won all three games. But injuries kept him out of four games and limited him in several others. The Raiders finished just 4-12.
28. Buffalo Bills -- The Bills missed out on the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season and it cost coach Chan Gailey his job.
29. Detroit Lions -- The Lions finished with a league-worst eight-game losing streak and Calvin Johnson failed in his bid to become the NFL's first 2,000-yard receiver by 36 yards. So December was a complete wash for the Lions.
30. Philadelphia Eagles -- Andy Reid was the winningest coach during the NFC in the 2000 decade. But a 4-12 collapse in 2012 cost him his job. He's an offensive coach and the Eagles turned the ball over an NFC-high 24 times.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars -- The Jaguars finished with the worst record in the AFC at 2-14 and it cost general manager Gene Smith his job.
32. Kansas City Chiefs -- The Chiefs were the worst team in the NFL with a 2-14 record. They fired coach Romeo Crennel. The only surprise is that GM Scott Pioli didn't get whacked as well.
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Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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