INSIDE PRO FOOTBALL | RICK GOSSELIN Paper picks Colts as NFL's top team The annual offseason rankings by the Dallas Morning News. 1. INDIANAPOLIS: One by one, quarterback Peyton Manning has shed the layers of criticism that enveloped his NFL career. The Colts won 12 games last season with the second-youngest lineup in the NFL. 2. NEW ENGLAND: On paper, the Patriots remain the best team in the NFL. 3. PHILADELPHIA: The Eagles signed free-agent Pro Bowlers Terrell Owens and Jevon Kearse. 4. KANSAS CITY: The Chiefs won 13 games a year ago and return 21 of their starters. 5. SEATTLE: This is the best team Mike Holmgren has coached since the 1997 Packers. 6. GREEN BAY: Roster is strong enough that Brett Favre no longer has to carry the Packers. 7. NEW ORLEANS: In the past six years everyone in the NFC South except the Saints have been to the Super Bowl. 8. CAROLINA: Jake Delhomme emerged as a big-game quarterback in the playoffs. 9. ST. LOUIS: Kurt Warner is gone, leaving coach Mike Martz (and quarterback Marc Bulger) without a safety net. 10. TENNESSEE: Having NFL co-most valuable player Steve McNair at quarterback is a huge edge on game day. 11. ATLANTA: Mike Vick is back, and so is Super Bowl talk. 12. PITTSBURGH: Even a top-10 defense couldn't prevent a losing season in 2003. 13. DETROIT: The Lions have enjoyed the NFL's best offseason. 14. JACKSONVILLE: Coach Jack Del Rio put his stamp on the defense in his first season. 15. MIAMI: The defense has been Super Bowl-ready for years, but the offense... 16. HOUSTON: An offense to contend is in place with QB David Carr, HB Domanick Davis and WR Andre Johnson. 17. BALTIMORE: The Ravens return 21 starters from AFC North champions. 18. DALLAS: The Cowboys might have greater uncertainty at running back and cornerback. 19. DENVER: Broncos now rely on defense. 20. MINNESOTA: How do you start a season 6-0 and miss the playoffs? 21. BUFFALO: The Bills fielded the AFC's best defense in 2003, but had no offensive playmakers. 22. CINCINNATI: Taking the ball away from veteran quarterback Jon Kitna and putting it in the hands of Carson Palmer could be a step back. 23. TAMPA BAY: Let's see if Jon Gruden can win with his own players. 24. NY JETS: Missing Chad Pennington for the first six games of 2003 doomed them. 25. CLEVELAND: The Browns put quarterback controversy behind them by signing Jeff Garcia. 26. WASHINGTON: Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs is back with the Redskins. 27. OAKLAND: Norv Turner gets a chance to revive his head-coaching career. 28. CHICAGO: The Bears also will be very young on defense. 29. SAN FRANCISCO: Points will be harder to come by in 2004. 30. SAN DIEGO: LaDainian Tomlinson is arguably the best player in football. 31. NY GIANTS: A league-high nine starters are gone from that disappointing 2003 team. 32. ARIZONA: The optimism rides with the arrival of Dennis Green as coach.