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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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Ruth's Chris 5 Sizzling Stats: What decided Ravens-Dolphins

Ruth's Chris 5 Sizzling Stats: What decided Ravens-Dolphins

Here are 5 Sizzling Stats, brought to you by Ruth's Chris, that helped to decide Ravens-Dolphins. 

36 -- Number of completions by Joe Flacco, a franchise record. He completed 36 of 47 passes.

381 -- The number of passing yards for Flacco on the day, his highest total of the season.

6 -- The number of points scored by Miami’s offense, the lowest total to which Baltimore has held an opponent to this season. The Ravens held Cleveland to seven points on two separate occasions, both Baltimore wins.

2 -- Touchdown receptions for Dennis Pitta, marking his first score since Week 14 of 2013. It was his first multi-touchdown game since Dec. 2012.

61 -- Rushing yards by Miami’s Jay Ajayi. His rushing average was 5.1 yards per carry, but he only carried the ball 12 times because of Baltimore’s early (and large) lead.

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Flacco-Mornhinweg meeting helps Ravens unleash offense

Flacco-Mornhinweg meeting helps Ravens unleash offense

BALTIMORE – A few days after the Ravens’ quarterback and offensive coordinator had a meeting of the minds, the team responded with its best offensive performance of the season.

Joe Flacco felt the Ravens got too conservative against the Bengals in Week 12, and told Marty Mornhinweg. The Ravens’ offensive coordinator said he hated being called conservative, and responded with an aggressive game plan that had the Dolphins on their heels in a 38-6 blowout win by the Ravens.

When it was over, Flacco had completed a franchise-record 36 passes, including four touchdown passes.  Flacco (36 for 47, 381 yards, four touchdowns, one interception) was happy. All the Ravens were happy. And perhaps Flacco and Morninweg had finally unlocked the key to finding how their offense operates best.

“One thing Marty has never been accused of is being conservative – that’s not a label he takes too kindly to, as Joe can probably attest,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “They had a little back-and-forth in one of the quarterback meetings – that was fun to watch. I heard about it; I didn’t actually witness it. But that’s what I think. Iron sharpens iron. We challenge each other, and everybody is able to do it in a way that makes each other better.”

This has been a difficult season for the Ravens’ offense.  Even with the change from Marc Trestman to Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator following Week 5, the Ravens struggled to find offensive consistency.

But against the Dolphins, the Ravens were explosive. Asked about the meeting with Mornhinweg, Flacco downplayed it, but he loved the results.

“It was a good conversation,” Flacco said. “It was all fun. It was a pretty fun conversation. It came down to the fact that I don’t think we were able to finish Cincinnati off last week like I really would have wanted to.”

The Ravens definitely finished off the Dolphins. Maybe Flacco should call Mornhinweg conservative every week if the Ravens respond like this.