- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 1, 2012

So you win the Super Bowl and still get no respect.

When New York Giants players look at the first-ever AP Pro32 rankings released by The Associated Press this week, they will have more ammunition for their inferiority complex. For those wondering why the NFL champions would feel that way, simply check out the poll, which has the Giants third behind Green Bay and New England.

We know, the Giants knocked off both teams on their way to the title. But if there ever was a strong indication that this is a new season, with all new considerations, the rankings are it.

“Until you lose, you’ve got to be called the best, right?” Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said. “I mean, it’s a new year, it’s a new season, but we have the crown and we’ve got that target on our back and we know it. That’s why we’re going to look at it that way. Not to put ourselves above anybody, but just to remember that when we play a team, we’re going to get their best game, we’re going to get their best shot.”

The Giants are not on top in great part because several of the 12 voters look at New York’s 9-7 regular-season record in 2011 and don’t see a powerhouse. Plus, the Giants‘ preseason has not gotten off to a great start, with injuries (CB Terrell Thomas) and suspensions (S Tyler Sash) raising further questions.

Two voters had them as low as sixth.

“It’s easy to forget G-Men almost didn’t make playoffs last season until late push,” said AP Pro32 voter Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com. “Let’s see if being defending NFL champions provides early-season motivation.”

Voter Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News also saw early-season challenges for the Giants.

“September, October, November and December don’t seem to matter to Giants. January and February do,” Gosselin said.

Still, the Giants did get five first-place votes, as many as Green Bay managed. Voter Clifton Brown of Sporting News summed up why very succinctly:

“Great clutch quarterback, superb pass rush, and motivated to prove they are better than last year’s 9-7 regular season.”

They’d better be or making the playoffs becomes problematic.

That doesn’t figure to be the case for the Packers with their nearly unstoppable offense anchored by several players in their primes: Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley. Not to mention a defense that should be much stingier and features Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and B.J. Raji.

Even in such a tough division, where both the Bears and Lions _ tied for No. 11 in the AP Pro32 _ will challenge for the playoffs, Green Bay is the class.

“Pack went 15-1 last year and averaged 40 points a game at home,” said voter Pat Kirwan of SiriusXM NFL Radio and CBSSports.com. “They got better on defense in the offseason.”

Story Continues →