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Tuesday, May 24, 2016
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Ira Kaufman's AP Pro32 ballot

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.