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 15

RICK GOSSELIN (Dallas Morning News)

1. Denver Broncos - Peyton Manning is making his pitch for a record fourth NFL MVP award. He has steered Denver to eight consecutive victories and thrown 19 TD passes during that stretch.

2. New England Patriots - The Patriots have the worst defense of any division leader. New England ranks 26th in the league, allowing an average of 376 yards per game.

3. Houston Texans - The Texans have lost twice this season, allowing 42 points in both games (Green Bay and New England).

4. San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers can join the Falcons with 4-0 records against the AFC this season with a victory Sunday in New England over the Patriots. The NFC leads the inter-conference series, 31-23.

5. Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons were the last of the NFL unbeatens this season at 8-0 but suddenly look very vulnerable. Atlanta has lost two of its last five games and won two others by four points or less.

6. Green Bay Packers - A Packer win Sunday in Chicago would give Green Bay a sweep of its three division rivals in a span of three weeks and clinch another NFC North.

7. Baltimore Ravens - With an uncharacteristically porous defense (24th in the NFL), the Ravens need more from their offense this season. But a cast that includes QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice and WR Anquan Boldin was underperforming (18th in the NFL) and it cost coordinator Cam Cameron his job. Jim Caldwell takes over Sunday against Denver.

8. Indianapolis Colts - WR Reggie Wayne is attempting to lead the AFC in receiving for the second time in six seasons - with two different quarterbacks. He caught 104 passes from Peyton Manning in 2007 and has 94 from Andrew Luck this season.

9. New York Giants - K Lawrence Tynes is attempting to become the first member of the Giants to lead the NFL in scoring since Don Chandler in 1963. He's No. 1 right now with 137 points.

10. Seattle Seahawks - Every opening-day starting quarterback in the NFL has passed for 300 yards in a game this season except one - rookie Russell Wilson of the Seahawks.

11. Chicago Bears - Jay Cutler passed for 333 yards in the season opener, but he hasn't hit 300 yards in any game since. In six of his starts he's been under 200.

12. Washington Redskins - Sixth-round find Alfred Morris of Florida Atlantic leads all rookie rushers with six 100-yard games this season. He ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,228 yards rushing.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers have the chance to become the only AFC team to go unbeaten against the NFC in 2012 with a victory Sunday over the Cowboys. Pittsburgh has swept the other three NFC East opponents.

14. Dallas Cowboys - WR Dez Bryant has taken over the Cowboys passing game with seven TD catches in the last five games. But he has a fractured finger and his season could be done. That would be a huge blow to the Cowboys' playoff hopes.

15. Minnesota Vikings - Adrian Peterson is averaging 157 yards rushing in his last seven games with eight touchdowns. He's topped 100 yards all seven of those games.

16. Cincinnati Bengals - The key to the playoff hopes of the 7-6 Bengals rests in Pennsylvania. Cincinnati visits the Eagles and Steelers in the next two weeks.

17. St. Louis Rams - The Rams are 4-0-1 in division play in the NFC West this season, which bodes well for the future.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Buccaneers are inept against the pass, allowing a 500-, a 400- and six other 300-yard passers this season. Tampa Bay also has allowed a league-high 10 individual 100-yard receiving games.

19. New York Jets - The Jets have the only defense in the NFL that has not allowed an individual 100-yard receiver yet this season.

20. Cleveland Browns - The Browns are no longer playing like a young team, winning their last three games to boost the coaching stock of Pat Shurmur in the eyes of new team owner Jimmy Haslam.

21. New Orleans Saints - Drew Brees has thrown nine interceptions in his last three games. His 18 interceptions through 13 games already match his career high.

22. San Diego Chargers - The Chargers have scored an NFL-runner-up six defensive touchdowns but have little to show for them - a disappointing 5-8 record.

23. Miami Dolphins - The Dolphins are in dire need of a big-play receiver to accelerate the development of Ryan Tannehill as a quarterback. Look for the Dolphins to go wideout in the first round next April.

24. Carolina Panthers - The Panthers defense has 21 sacks in six road games this season but only nine in seven home games. Carolina visits San Diego Sunday.

25. Philadelphia Eagles - Nick Foles isn't the rushing threat of Michael Vick at quarterback but he's a more accurate passer. He also takes better care of the football.

26. Buffalo Bills - The Bills head north this weekend for their annual game in Toronto. It's a home game for the Bills, but there is no home field advantage - Buffalo is 1-3 in those games.

27. Tennessee Titans - A big part of Tennessee's problem this season is its inability to compete in its own division. The Titans are 4-9 on the season and 0-5 in the AFC South.

28. Detroit Lions - The 4-9 Lions have blown double-digit leads in losing each of their last three games.

29. Arizona Cardinals - The Cardinals have lost nine consecutive games with three different quarterbacks. John Skelton is 0-5 during that stretch and both Kevin Kolb and Ryan Lindley 0-2.

30. Oakland Raiders - The Raiders have allowed 400-plus points for the second consecutive season.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jaguars have managed a league-low 14 sacks, which helps explain why opponents are completing almost 64 percent of their passes.

32. Kansas City Chiefs - Brady Quinn has passed for fewer than 500 yards in three starts since replacing Matt Cassel at quarterback. The Chiefs rank 31st in the NFL in passing.

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AFC North: Griffin's mannequin pose gets thumbs up at Cleveland high school

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AFC North: Griffin's mannequin pose gets thumbs up at Cleveland high school

New Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III found a new way to use his body control Tuesday. He posed as a mannequin while pranking a high school classroom in Ohio. It was part of a good deed by the Browns, who donated $25,000 to North Ridgeville High School to be used for helmets.

While Browns teammate Cameron Erving spoke to the class, Griffin stood behind a curtain. After the curtain was raised, Griffin remained perfectly still, looking like a mannequin wearing a Ridgeville uniform and helmet.

“I had to tap into my inner mime,” Griffin told the Browns’ website.

When two students approached Griffin to remove the helmet, he startled them with a roar. Then Griffin removed his helmet to reveal his identity. The classroom erupted in applause.

The Browns’ website posted a video of Griffin’s performance here.

Things have been trending in a positive way for Griffin since coming to Cleveland from the Redskins. Not only did the Browns draft four wide receivers, they did not draft a quarterback until the third round when they took Cody Kessler of USC.  Griffin, Josh McCown, Austin Davis, Connor Shaw, and Pat Devlin are the other quarterbacks on the roster.

Griffin clearly has a chance to win the starting job. But with Tuesday’s mannequin act, Griffin won over some high school kids in Ohio.

  

Ravens like their draft class, and so did Vegas sports books

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Ravens like their draft class, and so did Vegas sports books

The Ravens liked their draft, and so did Las Vegas.

In mid-March prior to the draft, the Ravens had 40-1 odds to win Super Bowl 51, according to Bovada. After their 11-player haul in the draft, the Ravens’ Super Bowl odds have improved to 33-1, according to Bovada.

Here are the six teams whose Super Bowl odds improved most dramatically after the draft, according to Bovada:

Browns – 150-1 to 100-1

Redskins – 50-1 to 40-1

Jets – 50-1 to 40-1

Giants - 33-1 to 25-1

Raiders – 33-1 to 25-1

Ravens – 40-1 to 33-1

Despite quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension being upheld, the Patriots remained the favorites for Super Bowl 51 (7-1), followed by the Seahawks (8-1), Packers (10-1), Steelers (10-1), and Panthers (11-1).

As for the AFC North, the Ravens still have their work cut out according to Vegas. The Steelers and Bengals (18-1) still have better Super Bowl odds than the Ravens.

So if you believe the Ravens are a better team after the draft, Vegas would agree. However, it remains to be seen if the Ravens will be improved enough to get back into the playoffs.

Ravens draft research includes digging into players' social media history

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Ravens draft research includes digging into players' social media history

Ten years ago, Ozzie Newsome didn’t have to worry about checking the Twitter posts of players he was thinking about drafting. Now, checking social media has become part of a general manager’s job, and part of a prospective draft prospect’s resume.

What better example than last week, when the infamous gas mask picture of Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil appeared on social media less than an hour before the draft. The Ravens passed on Tunsil and took left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the sixth pick. Tunsil, who once looked like a sure top-five pick, plummeted to No. 13 where the Dolphins took him.

On the Ravens’ website, Ravens senior vice president Kevin Byrne wrote that he stopped by Newsome’s offense last Wednesday, one day before the draft, and saw him with a stack of papers in front of him.

When Byrne asked Newsome what he was reading, he responded, “Tweets from the college players. Some of these guys aren’t very smart. Part of our research.”

Researching social media will continue to be part of Newsome’s pre-draft process. Newsome isn’t active on social media, but he definitely reads it, now more than ever.