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Ira Kaufman's AP Pro32 ballot

TBO.com The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 11:02 AM

NFL writer Ira Kaufman of The Tampa Tribune ranks the league's teams for The Associated Press' weekly NFL rankings. Here is his Week 1 ballot:

1. Patriots; As long as Belichick and Brady are around, 12 wins and legitimate Super Bowl aspirations will follow.

2. Packers; Perhaps shifting Charles Woodson to safety can energize a secondary that was burned repeatedly last fall.

3. Texans; With a weak schedule and a strong roster, there's no reason the Texans shouldn't contend for the AFC's No. 1 playoff seed.

4. 49ers; When you can run and play defense like Jim Harbaugh's marauders, expectations should run rampant from San Jose to Sausalito.

5. Giants; Five prime-time games and a killer closing slate will test the resolve of the Super Bowl champs.

6. Steelers; Yes, they are getting a little creaky on defense, but Ben Roethlisberger is 80-33 and you simply can't run on these guys.

7. Ravens; Ray Lewis & Co. have every intention of making Peyton Manning's Denver debut Sunday evening a Rocky Mountain Low.

8. Cowboys; Jerry Jones may have faith in Jason Garrett, but Dallas fans will be clamoring for Jon Gruden if the Cowboys fade once again in December.

9. Broncos; John Fox proved in Carolina he knows how to win with a smart QB and a punishing ground game. He's about to prove it again.

10. Falcons; Coming off an impressive preseason, Matt Ryan needs to recapture his form as one of the league's premier young QBs.

11. Eagles; Philly looks like a determined group eager to atone for a sorry season, but Michael Vick is a PUP list waiting to happen.

12. Bears; Jay Cutler has some shiny new weapons scattered in the Windy City as Chicago takes aim on Green Bay in the NFC North.

13. Bengals; One more playoff season in the Queen City and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden will be a hot coaching candidate in 2013.

14. Titans; Chris Johnson is back to his old tricks in the backfield and Tennessee's defense is better than advertised.

15. Lions; Jim Schwartz can only hope the Lions show more discipline on fall Sundays than they do off the field.

16. Jets; Rex Ryan is still yapping, but it won't be long before one of the NFL's better defenses is giving a moribund attack the silent treatment.

17. Chargers; Memo to Turner: How can you be an NFL head coach for 221 regular-season games and still have so much to prove?

18. Panthers; This defense will be significantly improved, easing the burden on Cam Newton.

19. Saints; Road games vs. the Packers, Broncos and Giants won't help the cause as Drew Brees tries to hold things together in the Crescent City.

20. Seahawks; Tucked away in the upper left corner of the NFL map, Pete Carroll is quietly building a winner.

21. Redskins; Reunited with Raheem Morris, talented safety Tanard Jackson did it again – a third drug-related suspension.

22. Chiefs; Despite boasting some very talented athletes, KC will be undermined by draft reaches and erratic play under center.

23. Bills; Buffalo made some dramatic strides on offense in 2011. This year, it's the defense's turn to rise.

24. Cardinals; John Skelton gets his opportunity to bloom in the desert while a talented defensive front should provide some heat.

25. Bucs; Rookie RB Doug Martin and WR Vincent Jackson will play prominent roles for an offense that looks promising on paper.

26. Raiders; Same old, same old. The Pride & Poise gang will spring a few upsets along the way and beat themselves in some other games before settling in at the corner of 6th and 10th.

27. Rams; With Jeff Fisher calling the shots, the Rams will be fundamentally sound and excel on special teams.

28. Vikings; Minnesota lost eight games by six points or less last season and the Vikes will win their share of those close ones if Adrian Peterson returns to greatness.

29. Colts; Besides all that raw talent, Andrew Luck has the perfect demeanor to grow with this football team.

30. Dolphins; Poor little rich owner Stephen Ross ... he craves a winner desperately, but has no idea how to make it happen.

31. Browns; Cleveland hasn't posted a winning mark on the road since 2002 and this offense isn't exactly brimming with playmakers.

32. Jaguars; If the Jags avoid home blackouts this fall, the entire marketing department should earn a two-week vacation to Hawaii.

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