Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com:
ALEX MARVEZ (Foxsports.com)
1. Houston Texans -- The Texans deserve kudos for winning two overtime games in a four-day span, but a pass defense that surrendered 791 yards passing and six touchdowns against Jacksonville and Detroit will sink Houston in the postseason if not fixed.
2. New England Patriots -- No team since the 1950 Los Angeles Rams has scored more in a four-game stretch (190) than the red-hot Patriots.
3. San Francisco 49ers -- Yes, Colin Kaepernick and the defense were outstanding in a 31-21 road win over New Orleans. But let's not forget about an offensive line that didn't allow a sack and paved the way for 144 yards rushing.
4. Denver Broncos -- Good teams still manage to win even when playing down to the level of inferior opposition -- ergo last Sunday's 17-9 stinker over Kansas City.
5. Atlanta Falcons -- The Falcons are the first team since the 2006 Indianapolis Colts to have won seven games by seven points or less. That won't earn the Falcons style points but, like with the Colts, it does move them closer to a Super Bowl berth.
6. Baltimore Ravens -- As again evidenced by last Sunday's 16-13 overtime win at San Diego, no team needs home-field advantage in the playoffs more than the Ravens.
7. New York Giants -- Think the Giants needed a break? A 38-10 pasting of Green Bay reflected a rejuvenated squad following a bye week.
8. Chicago Bears -- Props to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler for his efforts in last Sunday's 28-10 win over Minnesota. Cutler, who had missed the past two games with a concussion, has long had the ability to make a mediocre offense look good dating back to his days at Vanderbilt.
9. Indianapolis Colts -- There's another feel-good story in Indianapolis besides the team -- and cheerleaders -- rallying behind leukemia-stricken coach Chuck Pagano. The Colts are on the verge of going from a 2-14 record in 2011 to making the playoffs.
10. Cincinnati Bengals -- How much longer can the Bengals continue to fly under the NFL radar? After a four-game losing streak, Cincinnati has won its past three contests against the New York Giants, Kansas City and Oakland by a 93-29 margin.
11. Green Bay Packers -- The Packers must hope last Sunday's 38-10 loss to the New York Giants was an aberration caused by player injuries rather than a reflection of how the rest of the season is going to unfold.
12. Seattle Seahawks -- The Seahawks can't be taken for real until learning to win consistently on the road. A 24-21 loss at Miami was a major setback.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Mike Tomlin has led the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory, but guiding this injury-decimated roster into the playoffs would be almost as impressive an accomplishment. That's not going to happen, though, unless battered quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (ribs/shoulder) gets back on the field pronto.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- A shoddy secondary and pass rush tied for 28th in sacks with 18 may be what keeps the Buccaneers from reaching the playoffs.
15. Washington Redskins -- The Redskins have won two straight, but next Monday night's game against the New York Giants will be the true test of whether Washington is a legitimate playoff contender.
16. Minnesota Vikings -- It was fitting that running back Adrian Peterson arrived late to pregame warm-ups because the Vikings looked like they were sleepwalking in last Sunday's 28-10 loss to Chicago.
17. New Orleans Saints -- Drew Brees clearly didn't help matters with two interceptions returned for touchdowns, but the Saints' defense remained disastrous in last Sunday's 31-21 loss to San Francisco.
18. Dallas Cowboys -- A third straight season at .500 or less is in the offing with all the injuries the Cowboys have suffered.
19. Detroit Lions -- A kick in the groin hurts. So does being one of the NFL's most disappointing teams.
20. Miami Dolphins -- Maybe the Dolphins can keep the sprinklers on the entire game Sunday against visiting New England. That might be the only way Miami slows down Tom Brady and Co.
21. Buffalo Bills -- The last hope that the Bills could end a 13-season playoff drought ended with last Sunday's 20-13 loss at Indianapolis.
22. St. Louis Rams -- A history of off-field incidents hurt their draft stock and even led to a one-game benching earlier this season. But if they can keep their heads on straight, two Rams rookies -- cornerback Janoris Jenkins (two interceptions returned for touchdowns) and wide receiver Chris Givens (five catches for 115 yards and one touchdown) -- proved last Sunday against Arizona that they could be future stars.