AP Pro32 ballot from Lynch

AP Pro32 ballot from Lynch

Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter John Lynch of Fox Sports:

Week 14

JOHN LYNCH (Fox Sports)

1. Houston Texans - What a showdown coming with the Patriots coming on Monday night.

2. Atlanta Falcons - Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is coaching his tail off and this D is making great QB's look confused. Ask Drew Brees.

3. New England Patriots - What a showdown coming with the Texans on Monday night.

4. Denver Broncos - The Broncos lost to the three teams I have in front of them right now, but are a much better team now and I would like their chances versus all of them.

5. San Francisco 49ers - A bold move by Harbaugh to stick with Kaepernick at QB backfired against the Rams.

6. Green Bay Packers - Health may be the only thing holding the Pack back. Good news: Greg Jennings is back and Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews appear close to coming back. Bad news: WR Jordy Nelson is now out with a hamstring injury.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers - I moved them to the No. 7 spot with the anticipation of Big Ben coming back. With he and Polamalu back, this team is battle tested in meaningful games and tough to beat.

8. Baltimore Ravens - I know they are 9-3 and I like this team. Too many key injuries - Ray Lewis, Lardarius Webb and now possibly Suggs again makes them awful vulnerable.

9. New York Giants - The Giants have been very inconsistent and to me it starts up front on both sides of the ball. This D-line that has been so feared and integral to their success and championships in recent years needs to start dominating!

10. Chicago Bears - The Bears are now banged up on D. This team is built to succeed at this time of year and needs to get healthy to make their run.

11. Indianapolis Colts - The Colts continue their special season and are now 8-4. Andrew Luck is a special player and will be for a long, long time in this league.

12. Seattle Seahawks - I'm more impressed with this team and their rookie QB each week. Beating the Bears at Chicago is a big step for them as they had been rock solid at home but struggled on the road. The possible looming suspensions of their CB tandem would devastate this Defense and team.

13. Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals are stacking W's and proving to be tough competition.

14. Washington Redskins - The 'Skins are back in the hunt after an impressive W on Monday night against the Giants. Mike Shanahan and his staff are coaching their hearts out. On offense they are maxing out RG3's vast skill and on D they are doing a lot with a little.

15. Dallas Cowboys - Romo looked really good in the second half. Problem is, he needed to as the Cowboys let Nick Foles and the Eagles hang 33 on them.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Bucs gave the Broncos all they could handle in the first half. In the second half, Peyton Manning and Von Miller proved to be too much for the Bucs. Schiano can coach and has this team prepared and ready to compete every week.

17. New Orleans Saints - The Saints just lost to the Falcons and now they travel to the Giants to face a ticked off Giants team.

18. Minnesota Vikings - Adrian Peterson is an absolute stud. The Vikings need more like him.

19. St. Louis Rams - Jeff Fisher has done a masterful job with this team!

20. Miami Dolphins - The Dolphins had a tough draw facing the Patriots.

21. Buffalo Bills - Mario Williams is starting to make the impact the Bills expected. Too little, too late for the Bills and Mario?

22. Detroit Lions - Underachieving in Detroit! This team is very talented. Talent alone doesn't win you games.

23. San Diego Chargers - Another fourth-quarter lead for the Chargers and another blown fourth quarter lead for the Chargers. Their inability to finish will likely lead to a very different Chargers team next season.

24. Cleveland Browns - The Browns have won two in a row. That's right, the Browns have won two in a row.

25. New York Jets - Joe Namath may line up at QB for the Jets this week. Jets fan could only wish.

26. Tennessee Titans - Clearly not ready to compete with the Texans.

27. Carolina Panthers - Tough game for anyone to have to play in at KC.

28. Arizona Cardinals - Ugly!

29. Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles youth showed up on offense but their defense continued to play awful football at Dallas.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars - A step backward as the Jags fell to the Bills.

31. Kansas City Chiefs - God bless them all.

32. Oakland Raiders - The Raiders turnaround has a long way to go ... condolences to Dennis Allen and his family as they mourn the loss of his father.

---

Online:

http://pro32.ap.org/poll and

http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Ravens excited about increased speed at wide receiver

healthyperrimanravensrefframe_1.jpg

Ravens excited about increased speed at wide receiver

Will the Ravens’ increased speed at wide receiver force opponents to defend them differently?

The Ravens hope so.

They were without Breshad Perriman (knee injury) all of last season, and without Steve Smith Sr. (Achilles injury) the final two months.

That gave opponents license to put a safety closer to the line of scrimmage, and to crowd Ravens receivers with press coverage – unafraid that the Ravens could throw deep with success.

However, Perriman is healthy again, and the Ravens added two speed receivers by signing Mike Wallace during free agency and drafting Chris Moore in the fourth round.

The Ravens believe that speed will lead to more big plays, help their running game, and give Smith and other receivers more operating room.

“We’ve had years when we couldn’t back anybody up,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “The ability to back people up, it’s huge – to quote a famous politician not to be named here. It’s hard for me to see the speed all of the time in some of these drills. I’m like,`How fast are they really moving?’ Then I go ask the (defensive backs) and they say, ‘They’re moving really fast.’ And that makes me feel good about it.”

Perriman averaged 19.5 yards per catch at Central Florida, Moore averaged 19.3 yards per catch at Cincinnati, and Wallace has averaged 15.2 yards per catch over a seven-year NFL career.

The Ravens believe their speed will make opponents think twice about crowding the line of scrimmage. And when opponents do crowd the line of scrimmage, the Ravens plan to make them pay with big plays.

RELATED: FREE AGENT WEDDLE ALREADY MAKING AN IMPACT

Ravens quickly convinced Weddle will be difference maker for secondary

healthyperrimanravensrefframe_1.jpg

Ravens quickly convinced Weddle will be difference maker for secondary

Veteran safety Eric Weddle is quickly making a strong impression with the Ravens.

After the first week of OTA’s, both coach Johh Harbaugh and defensive back Lardarius Webb mentioned Weddle as being a difference maker, after being acquired in free agency from the Chargers.

Weddle’s experience as a three-time Pro Bowler should be vital for a Ravens secondary that surrendered too many big plays last season.

Webb sees Weddle seamlessly taking command of the secondary, calling out coverages and making sure teammates are lined up properly.

“If he has anything to tell me I’m always listening,” Webb said. “He’s going to be big for this defense – for this team. He speaks up. I told him, `We want Eric Weddle. Don’t hold back. Don’t be quiet. We want you. If you yelled when you were with the Chargers, I want you coming out here yelling. Just be yourself. Grow the beard back, because we want the beard. If that’s who you were, grow the beard. He’s growing it back. He’s being himself and we’re loving it. It was a great move.”

Weddle has been offering advice to Webb on making the transition from cornerback to safety. Weddle can also lead by example, helping the development of young safeties like Terrence Brooks and Matt Elam.

At age 31, Weddle wants to show he can still play at a Pro Bowl level, and he desperately wants to make the playoffs. Harbaugh seems to have no doubt Weddle will make the Ravens’ defense better.

“I just really appreciate his attitude,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got an enthusiasm for the work day. He loves football. He loves every part of the work day. He loves every part of being in here and being a football player. There’s never something that you look at him and he’s not excited to do. That is infectious. That’s something that makes us all better, and to me, that’s one of the things that a great leader does and he’s got those qualities.

“He fits in with how we do things around here perfectly. I give (general manager) Ozzie (Newsome) all the credit in the world. That was a great signing.”

RELATED: CONDITIONING REMAINS AN ISSUE FOR RB RICHARDSON

Will lack of conditioning lead to Richardson's downfall with Ravens?

healthyperrimanravensrefframe_1.jpg

Will lack of conditioning lead to Richardson's downfall with Ravens?

Will running back Trent Richardson’s lack of conditioning be his downfall with the Ravens?

Richardson missed the first week of OTA’s with a hamstring issue, which was not the kind of early impression he wanted to make. Some injuries are unavoidable. But conditioning has been an issue for Richardson throughout his brief and so far undistinguished NFL career.

Entering the NFL as the No. 3 overall pick with the Browns in 2012, Richardson has disappointed in Cleveland and Indianapolis, and spent 2015 out of the league after the Raiders cut him before the season. When the Ravens signed Richardson in April, he knew it might be his last NFL chance. However, Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants to see even more commitment from Richardson when it comes to staying in shape.

RELATED: IN LATEST COMEBACK BID, RAVENS TE DENNIS PITTA'S CONFIDENCE NOT A PROBLEM

“Trent just needs to get healthy,” Harbaugh said after the first week of OTA’s. “I think the workload and the amount of work it takes to be a world class conditioned athlete is something that he’s working on right now. That’s what he needs to understand and that’s where he needs to get himself. When he gets himself there, he’s got talent. It will be fun. I’m very certain he’ll get there and when he does we’ll be able to evaluate him.”

The Ravens don’t have to wait on Richardson. Their running back competition is already intense, with Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Terrance West all fighting for carries and roles.

Whether Richardson even threatens to make the team remains to be seen. His bigger priority is improving his conditioning, and getting back on the field.

MORE RAVENS: MIKE TOMLIN, ANTONIO BROWN GO TO PENGUINS PLAYOFF GAME