- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com _

Week 9

ALEX MARVEZ (Foxsports.com)

1. Atlanta _ Lost amid the Andy Reid/Mike Vick drama was Atlanta’s standout play in a 30-17 road win in Philadelphia.

2. New York Giants _ The Giants remain the NFL’s worst houseguests because of their uncanny road success in places like Dallas. New York has now won four straight games inside Jerry World following last Sunday’s 29-24 thriller.

3. Chicago _ The Bears seemed uninterested against inferior opposition until rallying for a 23-22 win over Carolina.

4. Houston _ The Texans enter Week 9 as the AFC’s only one-loss team.

5. San Francisco _ 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree (five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns) continued to shine as one of the NFL’s most improved players in Monday night’s 24-3 road victory over Arizona.

6. New England _ No opponent humiliates Jeff Fisher like the Patriots. Including last Sunday’s 45-3 blowout in London, the Patriots have now outscored Fisher-coached teams (St. Louis and Tennessee) by a 109-23 margin in the past three matchups.

7. Green Bay _ The Packers were lucky to sleep walk through a 24-15 win over Jacksonville.

8. Denver _ Peyton Manning is hitting his stride again, but don’t ignore a complementary running game led by Willis McGahee and rookie Ronnie Hilliard that can take advantage of nickel and dime defensive looks. A 34-14 blowout of New Orleans on Sunday night was proof.

9. Pittsburgh _ Jon Dwyer’s plodding rushing style is the opposite of slashing ex-Steelers running back “Fast” Willie Parker. But the two share this in common: No Steelers running back since Parker in 2008 has posted consecutive 100-yard games until Dwyer reached triple digits in last Sunday’s 27-12 thumping of Washington.

10. Baltimore _ Considering their road struggles this season, the Ravens could be in trouble Sunday against a Cleveland Browns squad that is starting to find its groove.

11. Miami _ A 30-9 thrashing of the New York Jets was the best showing yet from the NFL’s most pleasant surprise.

12. Minnesota _ The Vikings face two challenges in the second half of the season: Getting second-year quarterback Christian Ponder back on track and compensating for the loss of cornerback Chris Cook (wrist).

13. Indianapolis _ This is a fact that shouldn’t be taken lightly _ the Colts (4-3) are legitimately the second-best team in the AFC South after last Sunday’s overtime win at Tennessee.

14. Seattle _ Now 1-4 on the road following last Sunday’s loss to Detroit, the Seahawks must find a way to recapture some magic away from Qwest Field down the stretch.

15. Cincinnati _ The Bengals must hope the bye week brings schematic improvement to their 16th-ranked pass defense with red-hot Denver quarterback Peyton Manning coming to town.

16. Philadelphia _ Vick (Michael). Nick (Foles). Whatever. If the Eagles don’t start scoring more points, it won’t matter who’s playing quarterback as the heat increases on head coach Andy Reid.

17. Dallas _ The latest unorthodox way to lose: Having three receivers with 100-yard games for the first time since 1963 _ including a ridiculous 18-catch effort from tight end Jason Witten _ and still falling short, 29-24, against the New York Giants.

18. Washington _ Note to Mike and Kyle Shanahan: Never ever leave Robert Griffin III exposed again as a wide receiver like in last Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh.

19. San Diego _ Is the besieged Norv Turner coaching for his livelihood in Thursday night’s game against Kansas City?

20. Detroit _ As evidenced by last Sunday’s win against Seattle, the Lions are living dangerously. Detroit has scored almost 59 percent of its points in the fourth quarter.

21. Oakland _ More frequent play-action rollouts show how much more comfortable quarterback Carson Palmer is becoming in Greg Knapp’s offense. With 11 tackles in last Sunday’s win over Kansas City, outside linebacker Phillip Wheeler continues to prove himself as the team’s best offseason acquisition.

22. Tennessee _ The defense has rapidly improved from a disastrous start but the offense couldn’t fully capitalize on scoring opportunities in last Sunday’s 19-13 overtime loss to Indianapolis.

23. Tampa Bay _ The Bucs finally learned how to finish _ and then some. After losing four games by seven points or less, the Bucs made sure it never got close late during last Thursday’s 36-17 mugging of Minnesota.

24. Arizona _ The Cardinals are wasting a playoff-caliber defense with offensive dreck.

25. New York Jets _ Nothing is working right for the Jets in their latest two-game losing streak.

26. St. Louis _ A 45-7 loss to New England served as a sobering reminder of just how far the Rams still must come before providing a legitimate challenge to the NFL’s best teams.

27. New Orleans _ Returning interim head coach Joe Vitt was right. He isn’t a “miracle worker” as evidenced by the Saints’ putrid performance against Denver in his first game back from a six-game NFL suspension.

28. Cleveland _ A 7-6 win over San Diego wasn’t pretty, but a team at the level of the Browns isn’t playing for style points.

29. Carolina _ The next head coach in 2013 _ and there’s no reason to believe right now that incumbent Ron Rivera will be retained _ must make the reconstruction of stumbling second-year quarterback Cam Newton his top priority.

30. Buffalo _ A lousy Bills defense could fall even deeper into the pit with Buffalo’s next two games at Houston and New England.

31. Jacksonville _ This is why the Jaguars are 1-6: Jacksonville’s defense enjoyed its best performance of the season yet the offense couldn’t come close to matching the effort in last Sunday’s 24-15 loss at Green Bay.

32. Kansas City _ The U.S. hadn’t even entered World War II officially at the time another team had failed to hold a lead in regulation this deep into the regular season. Matching a record from 1940 is the only historic thing the Chiefs have done in this disastrous season.


Online: ht tp://pro32.ap.org/poll a nd ht tp://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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