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AP Pro32 ballot from Gosselin

AP Pro32 ballot from Gosselin

Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Rick Gosselin of Dallas Morning News:

Week 14

RICK GOSSELIN (Dallas Morning News)

1. Houston Texans - There have been 46 three-game road trips in the NFL since 2000. The Texans aspire to become just the sixth team to go 3-0 on one of those trips. That would entail winning this weekend in New England, though.

2. Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons receiving corps leads the NFL with 11 individual 100-yard receiving games this season. They only had 12 all of last year.

3. Denver Broncos - The two most balanced teams in the NFL are the Texans and Broncos. They are the only teams that rank in the top 10 in both offense and defense.

4. New England Patriots - The Patriots have snapped the ball 883 times on offense and committed only nine turnovers. Most NFL teams commit more turnovers in a game than New England does in a month.

5. San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers are 0-1-1 against the lowly Rams and 8-2 against everyone else.

6. Baltimore Ravens - Ray Rice has scored eight touchdowns this season but is still looking for his first road score. The Ravens are at Washington Sunday.

7. Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers has been sacked more than any NFL quarterback this season - 39 times.

8. Chicago Bears - The Bears and Packers share first place in the NFC North, but Green Bay owns the tiebreaker and has an easier closing schedule than Chicago. The Bears play three of their last four on the road.

9. Indianapolis Colts - The Colts finished fourth in the NFL in offense in Peyton Manning's last season in 2010. Indy ranks a surprising third this season with rookie Andrew Luck taking the snaps.

10. Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals defense has 15 sacks in their last four games and leads the NFL with 39.

11. New York Giants - If the Giants are to win back-to-back NFC East titles, they're going to have to earn it these next three weeks with games against New Orleans, Atlanta and Baltimore. The Falcons and Ravens both lead their divisions.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers led the NFL in defense in back-to-back seasons in 2007-08. Pittsburgh ranks No. 1 this season and is attempting to go back-to-back again in 2011-12.

13. Seattle Seahawks - The Seahawks are 7-5 with games remaining against Arizona, Buffalo and St. Louis. The Rams and Cardinals are at home - setting up a potential 10-win season for Seattle with a rookie quarterback.

14. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III is showing maturity beyond his years with just one interception in his last five games as the Redskins have pieced together a surprising run at an NFC East title.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Buccaneers are a defensive contradiction, ranking first in the NFL in run defense but last in pass defense. Tampa Bay has allowed eight individual 100-yard receivers.

16. Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys have become notoriously slow starters. They've been outscored in the first half, 68-27, over the last four games.

17. Minnesota Vikings - Adrian Peterson leads the NFL with seven individual 100-yard rushing games - and the last six have come in succession.

18. St. Louis Rams - The Rams are looking to snap a five-game losing streak to AFC opponents this weekend in Buffalo. St. Louis is 0-3 against the AFC this season.

19. New Orleans Saints - QB Drew Brees has thrown 50 or more passes in three games this season and the Saints have lost all of them.

20. Miami Dolphins - Rookie Marcus Thigpen is having a superb season as a returner, averaging 28.9 yards with a touchdown on kickoffs and 12.7 yards with another score on punts.

21. Buffalo Bills - The Bills lead the AFC with an average of 5.2 yards per rush. Both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson have rushed for 100-yard games.

22. Cleveland Browns - The 4-8 Browns have the youngest starting lineup in the NFL but that youth is finally starting to figure this league out. The Browns have won two in a row since pushing the Cowboys into overtime in Dallas.

23. New York Jets - Mark Sanchez threw five TD passes in September but only seven more over the last months.

24. Tennessee Titans - The Titans rank 31st in the NFL with an average time of possession of barely 27 minutes.

25. Detroit Lions - Calvin Johnson has caught 45 passes for 790 yards in his last five games. He has at least 129 yards receiving in all five of the games.

26. San Diego Chargers - The Chargers and Lions are tied for the most disappointing team of 2012. Both fancied themselves as Super Bowl contenders but both sit 4-8 here in December.

27. Arizona Cardinals - Since opening the season 4-0, the Cardinals have lost eight in a row to sink to the bottom of the NFC West.

28. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton has not thrown an interception in his last three games covering 84 passes.

29. Philadelphia Eagles - During this eight-game losing streak the Eagles have fired their defensive coordinator, defensive line coach and best pass rusher.

30. Oakland Raiders - Carson Palmer has passed for 300 yards six times this season and the Raiders have lost all six games. Oakland has lost five in a row and Palmer has 300-yard games in four of them.

31. Kansas City Chiefs - In recent years the 2-10 Chiefs have doled out $117 million in contracts to QB Matt Cassel (2009), WR Steve Breaston (2011) and CB Stanford Routt (2012). Routt's already been cut, Cassel rides the bench and Breaston is a weekly inactive.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars - With Chad Henne at quarterback the last two weeks, the Jaguars have edged up from 32nd to 31st in the NFL in offense.

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NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Combine Primer And Sleepers

NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Combine Primer And Sleepers

The annual NFL Combine kicks of Wednesday in Indianapolis. Whatever happens there -- receivers run fast, quarterbacks flash arm strength, defenders lack pop -- projections will change and in some cases significantly. Therefore here's my last look at the situation before all the sprints and lifts via mock draft 4.0 plus some other thoughts below.

* League sources offered up names of several prospects currently ranked all over the big boards with the chance to make a big splash during the combine. They include:

Alabama TE O.J. Howard -- Everybody already knows the 6-foot-6 Howard is a two-way monster. His Senior Bowl dominance certainly confirmed that. Rocking the Combine could alter his mid-to-late first round projection into 10-13 range where teams like New Orleans, Cleveland and Arizona have TE needs. Call me crazy, but if Howard is there when the Redskins pick at 17, I can imagine Washington thinkng long and hard about two-TE sets wth Jordan Reed. 

Oklahoma DT Charles Walker -- The Redskins have shown interest in Walker, according to a league source, though his draft range is all over the map. The interior force's redshirt junior season ended early due to a concussion followed by a decision to leave the Sooners early with draft preparation in mind. Was a second-team All-Big 12 selection as a junior thanks to six sacks. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Walker ninth among defensive tackles while WalterFootball.com projects the 304-pounder as a Day 2 pick.

<<CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0>>

Pittsburgh OT Adam Bisnowaty -- Considered underrated despite starting four seasons for the Panthers. The left tackle helped key a resurgent season for the Panthers. Lack of wow prospects at the position means the order outside of Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin), Cam Robinson (Alabama) and Garrett Bolles (Utah) is in flux.

Ashland TE Adam Shaheen -- The D2 prospect is early candidate for the "Who is that guy?" award. Expect raves about Shaheen's size and athleticism. CBS Sports already has Day 2 projection on the 6-foot-6, 277-pounder who can run routes like a wide receiever. Could he move all the way into round 1?

Tulsa WR Keevan Lucas -- What the 5-foot-10 receiver lacks in height he makes up for with speed and production. Caught 81 passes for 1,180 yards and 15 touchdowns during his senior season with the Golden Hurricanes. Certain analytics show Lucas' production stood out  and put him in the same statistical company as future NFL receivers Stefon Diggs and Marqise Lee. Day 3 sleeper.

Other to watch: QB Pat Mahomes (Texas Tech), TE David Nkoju (Miami, Fl.), DT Ryan Glasgow (Michigan), CB Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson)

* Look at Scot McCloughan's draft history and one theme emerges: The man likes seniors, especially in round one. Brandon Scherff and Josh Doctson were both four-year players. The bulk of first round selections during his time at Seattle and San Francisco. That doesn't mean McCloughan will go that way with the 17th overall pick; Of the top 19 ranked prospects according to ESPN analyst Todd McShay, 14 are underclassmen. But keep a close on seniors with early round projections like Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, Temple inside linebacker Haason Reddick, Indiana guard Dan Feeney, LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White, Washington wide receiver John Ross and Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson.

<<CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0>>

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Report: Ravens mulling cutting Dennis Pitta to create more cap space

Report: Ravens mulling cutting Dennis Pitta to create more cap space

A decision on whether to cut or keep Dennis Pitta is one of many issues facing the Ravens this offseason.

According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the Ravens “may balk” at the $5.5 million salary Pitta is due next season. That makes sense, considering Pitta was just 28th in the NFL among tight ends in yards per catch (8.5) despite leading all tight ends with 86 catches. Pitta only had two touchdown catches, and there is concern he no longer has the speed to make explosive plays after two major hip surgeries.

Free agency begins March 9, but cutting Pitta with a June 1 designation would create the most cap space for the Ravens - $5.5 million.

However, if the Ravens release Pitta, they would turn the tight end position over to a question-filled group that includes:

Ben Watson – He is 36 years old, and missed all of the 2016 season with an Achilles injury. Cutting Watson and saving $3 million in cap space might make more sense than cutting Pitta. Especially if Pitta agrees to a pay reduction, as he did before last season.

Nick Boyle – He missed 10 games last season due to his second suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. Another suspension could lead to the end of Boyle’s career.

Crockett Gillmore – He must prove he can still healthy after missing seven games in 2016, and 15 games over the past two seasons.

Darren Waller – He was suspended four games in 2016 for his first PED violation, and he has caught just 12 passes in his first two seasons.

Maxx Williams – He is coming off major knee surgery.

Pitta remains a favorite target of quarterback Joe Flacco, and even if Pitta struggles to make splash plays, he is still a chain-mover as a possession receiver. You can make a case for cutting or keeping Pitta. The Ravens will soon make their verdict.

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