AP Pro32 ballot from Glauber

AP Pro32 ballot from Glauber

Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Bob Glauber of Newsday:

Week 12

BOB GLAUBER (Newsday)

1. Houston Texans - When your defense isn't at its best, nice to have

Matt Schaub save the day with five TD passes, including the

game-winner in OT of a surprisingly difficult win over the Jaguars.

Not gonna penalize Texans on style points. Bottom line: They got it

done.

2. Atlanta Falcons - Too soon to call it a slump. But a week after

losing a battle against Drew Brees, Matt Ryan throws a career-high

five INTs as Atlanta narrowly holds off Arizona. If he doesn't get

back on track quickly, then there's a problem. A big problem.

3. San Francisco 49ers - You don't often see a quarterback controversy

on a winning team, but the 49ers sure seem to have one. Who's it going

to be, Jim Harbaugh? Colin Kaepernick or Alex Smith? Either way, looks

like Kaepernick has a terrific future.

4. Green Bay Packers - Nothing pretty except the final result, as the

Packers outlast the Lions in Detroit to continue their domination over

their NFC North rivals.

5. Baltimore Ravens - Another ugly win for another highly regarded

team. But when you beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, who cares how it

looks? Ravens now in firm control in AFC North.

6. Denver Broncos - Three more TDs for Peyton Manning and three more

sacks for Von Miller add up to a convincing win over San Diego. Looks

like Denver will cruise to the divisional title and perhaps even a

trip to New Orleans in February.

7. New England Patriots - Blowout win over the Colts is great, but

losing Rob Gronkowski to a broken forearm takes away Tom Brady's

biggest offensive weapon. Pats won't be the same without him.

8. Chicago Bears - Jay Cutler can't get back soon enough, but it's the

defensive meltdown in San Francisco that should have Lovie Smith just

as concerned.

9. New York Giants - Giants return from bye rested and ready, but the

schedule is a killer down the stretch. It starts with Green Bay at

home on Sunday night and includes games against New Orleans, Baltimore

and Atlanta. That one-game lead over Dallas looks mighty tenuous.

10. New Orleans Saints - Hottest team in the league? Could be. Saints

roll to their fifth win in the last six games and are right in the

thick of NFC wild card race. Would be an incredible feat if they get

there after overcoming 0-4 start.

11. Seattle Seahawks - Seahawks return from bye to face reeling Miami.

Can't afford a misstep here, not when Seattle is still very much in

the thick of it in the divisional and wild card races.

12. Dallas Cowboys - Just when it looks like the Cowboys will go

kerplunk - i.e. lose at home to the awful Browns - they pull off a

dramatic comeback and remain a factor. Only one game behind the

slumping Giants, and this thing can change in a hurry.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Another terrific comeback effort from Josh

Freeman in a road win over the Panthers. Statement game now on tap for

Sunday: Falcons at Tampa.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers - With the quarterback situation a mess

because of injuries, it'll be Mike Tomlin's greatest coaching jobs if

he gets to the playoffs.

15. Indianapolis Colts - Mr. Luck, say hello to Mr. Brady. Carry on.

16. Minnesota Vikings - Vikings come off bye with chance to take a

huge step in the division. A win over Chicago, and they're in

business. Looks like they might have to face Jay Cutler, though. Not

easy with Bears in bounce-back mode after San Francisco embarrassment.

17. Cincinnati Bengals - Bengals follow up blowout of defending Super

Bowl champions with another excellent performance, even if the

competition was inferior. But hey, the Chiefs played well the week

before in Pittsburgh, so give credit to Cincy for not giving KC a

chance in this one.

18. Washington Redskins - RG3 has his way against the Eagles' reeling

defense. Still a ways to go in the playoff chase, but at least there's

a chance.

19. Tennessee Titans - Still in the hunt for a wild card, Tennessee is

on the road to face Jacksonville. A tougher task perhaps now that Chad

Henne gets his shot as the Jags' starter.

20. New York Jets - Just the way Rex likes to play: Run the ball, play

good defense, have the quarterback manage the game. The Jets did just

that to beat the Rams on the road. A win over New England at home on

Thanksgiving, and hope lives on.

21. Detroit Lions - It's just about over for the Lions. A Thanksgiving

Day loss to the Texans, and that could be it.

22. Buffalo Bills - Bills are still far from good, but they kept their

flickering playoff hopes alive by beating Miami at home in an ugly

one. Now let's see what they do at Indy in a virtual must-win

situation.

23. San Diego Chargers - Is Philip Rivers really a descending player?

The evidence is hard to ignore. Maybe a change of coaches next season

will signal an eventual rebirth. The Chargers can only hope.

24. Miami Dolphins - It wasn't long ago the Dolphins looked as if

they'd turned the corner. Now they look as if it's 2011 all over

again.

25. Arizona Cardinals - Cardinals haven't won since September. Really.

26. St. Louis Rams - So much for that. A week after the Rams tie the

mighty 49ers on the road, they come up small at home against the Jets.

Not the kind of payback former Jets offensive coordinator Brian

Schottenheimer was looking for.

27. Philadelphia Eagles - The offense is miserable. The defense is

worse. And Andy Reid's time is just about up in Philly. What a mess.

28. Cleveland Browns - Browns come close in Dallas, but can't finish

off the upset. Woulda shoulda coulda - the three words that have come

to symbolize the Browns since their return to Cleveland in 1999.

29. Carolina Panthers - Latest heartbreak for Panthers' fans: Watching

the home team blow a 21-10 fourth-quarter lead with 4:34 to play.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars - Mike Mularkey hands the ball to Chad Henne

after a terrific performance in relief of Blaine Gabbert in Houston.

Let's see if it does the trick at home, where the Jaguars have been

embarrassingly bad.

31. Oakland Raiders - Will Dennis Allen be a one-and-done? Not like

the Raiders haven't pulled the plug early before. Let's see if Mark

Davis is like father Al when it comes to impatience with losing

coaches.

32. Kansas City Chiefs - Back to the basement for the Chiefs, who

follow up a gutty effort in an overtime loss in Pittsburgh with a

miserable showing at home against Cincy.

---

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In latest comeback bid, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta's confidence not a problem

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In latest comeback bid, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta's confidence not a problem

Not everyone close to Dennis Pitta was immediately sold on his second NFL comeback attempt. Will his twice-fractured hip hold up? How much is Pitta risking his long-term health?

Pitta has pondered those questions for months. But after the first week of OTA’s, the Ravens’ 30-year-old tight end remained confident he had made the right decision.

“I had to convince a few people, and I’m thankful for those who have been in my corner all along and had my best interests in mind,” Pitta said. “Like I’ve said before, I know my situation better than anyone else, and I’m confident in the decision I made to come back, and certainly there were people who wanted to make sure that I was confident in that decision. I have a great support team behind me, and we all feel good about this move.”

Pitta first fractured his hip during training camp in 2013, then again on a non-contact play against the Browns in 2014. However, Pitta says he doesn’t think about his right hip when he’s on the field. He’s also not lowering his expectations, despite not playing at all in 2015, and not playing a full season since 2012.

Pitta was one of quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite targets, catching 61 passes for 669 yards during the 2012 regular season, then adding 14 catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns during the Ravens’ playoff run to a Super Bowl title.

Asked if he could return that level of play, Pitta suggested, “Why not?”

“No, my expectations haven’t changed from four years ago, to two years ago, to now,” Pitta said. “My level of expectation is extremely high going into this year. Like I said, I feel confident in how I can run, how I can move, how I can play and it’s just a matter of getting those reps back to where I’m confident in doing all of that. So, yes, expectations personally are very high.”

Pitta obviously wasn’t ready to end his career. If he is on the 53-man roster Week 1, it will be a terrific comeback story.

Mike Tomlin, Antonio Brown go to Penguins playoff game

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Mike Tomlin, Antonio Brown go to Penguins playoff game

If you didn't the the Pittsburgh Steelers enough already, this ought to help. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and receiver Antonio Brown decided to take in some hockey on Thursday and unfortunately, they were cheering for the local team.

On the one hand, what do you expect? They play for the Pittsburgh Steelers so it's no surprise to see them cheering for the hometown team. On the other hand, the Steelers are the team Ravens fans all love to hate so to see them supporting the chief rivals of the Washington Capitals, that stings.

Just one more reason to hate the Steelers this football season.

RELATED: SEAN PAYTON SAYS RAVENS LOSING WEEK OF OTAS ISN'T THAT BIG OF A DEAL

Sean Payton says Ravens losing week of OTAs isn't that big of a deal

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Sean Payton says Ravens losing week of OTAs isn't that big of a deal

The Ravens forfeited one week of OTAs as part of their punishment for breaking offseason workout rules (the team dressed players in full pads during rookie minicamp, which is a no-go). But don't worry guys, Saints head coach Sean Payton says that's no biggie. 

Of course a few OTA days seem like peanuts to a guy who was suspended for all of 2012, you may be thinking. But hear the man out.  

During a radio interview with PFT Live, Payton was asked about the impact of losing those sessions. 

I don’t think it’s a big deal. The reason I say that is, look, it doesn’t keep the players from lifting and running and so a week of OTAs would be three on-the-field sessions. You don’t want to lose those opportunities and, shoot, one of those opportunities you might have some type of team building experience set up. I think each team does similar things during the OTAs. There’s a lot of offense versus defense. There’s some restrictions regarding one-on-ones but the players are out there in their element, and they’re going though a little bit of a practice format for two hours. So really that equates to about six hours on the field.

Payton explained that the offseason's first phases are valuable because players return to the facility to work out and build camaraderie.

The Ravens may miss out on practice elements, but they're still getting to do what's most important at this early juncture.