Packers top AP poll
NEW YORK - Wear those Cheeseheads proudly, Packers fans. Your team tops the first AP Pro32 NFL power rankings, a new pro football version of the AP Top 25 college football and basketball polls. Once the NFL season starts, the AP Pro32 rankings will be updated weekly. Green Bay, coming off a 15-1 record but without a championship, received 374 points from a panel of 12 sports writers and broadcasters who regularly cover the league. The Packers got five first-place votes, as did the Giants, who beat Green Bay on their way to a Super Bowl win over the Patriots last season. But New York finished third behind New England in the voting, 369 points to 362. The Patriots earned two first-place votes."The Packers were the best team in the NFL every week last year except two," said voter Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune. "They will be the best team every week often this year." In the debut poll, the Patriots were projected to dominate the AFC, according to the voters; New England was not ranked lower than third by any of them. As for the Giants, well, they are the defending champions, right? "Great clutch quarterback, superb pass rush, and motivated to prove they are better than last year's 9-7 regular season," was why voter Clifton Brown of Sporting News placed the Giants atop his rankings. There were some naysayers, though. New York came in as low as sixth on two ballots. "It's easy to forget G-Men almost didn't make playoffs last season until a late push," said voter Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com. "Let's see if being defending NFL champions provides early-season motivation." Finishing off the top five were San Francisco (336 points) and Baltimore (315).