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AP Pro32 ballot from Marvez

AP Pro32 ballot from Marvez

Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com:

Week 14

ALEX MARVEZ (Foxsports.com)

1. Houston Texans - The J.J. Watt-led defense got back on track in last Sunday's 24-10 win at Tennessee.

2. New England Patriots - The outcome of upcoming home games against Houston and San Francisco will largely determine whether the Patriots can land a first-round playoff bye.

3. Denver Broncos - Yeah, that Peyton Manning signing worked out all right. The Broncos have already clinched the AFC West.

4. Atlanta Falcons - Thanks to San Francisco's upset loss to St. Louis, the Falcons are guaranteed home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with two more victories in their final four games.

5. San Francisco 49ers - What is it with the St. Louis Rams? The 49ers are 0-1-1 against that mediocre franchise and 8-2 versus the rest of the league.

6. Baltimore Ravens - With subpar performances in two games against Pittsburgh this season, Joe Flacco needs to get his act together if the Ravens face the Steelers again in the playoffs.

7. New York Giants - Penalties, a bad field-goal snap and the defense's inability to stop Washington's read-option offense were the main reasons for New York's 17-16 road loss to the Redskins.

8. Chicago Bears - Speaking of the inability to stop the read-option, that's what doomed the Bears in last Sunday's overtime defeat against Seattle.

9. Green Bay Packers - Minnesota's Adrian Peterson deserved the spotlight for a 210-yard effort, but let's not forget Green Bay rushed for 152 yards in last Sunday's 23-14 win.

10. Indianapolis Colts - The Colts continue to squeak past the opposition, winning for the seventh time by seven points or less in last Sunday's 35-33 comeback over Detroit.

11. Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals are getting more dangerous offensively now that the rushing attack is getting on track. BenJarvus Green-Ellis enjoyed his third consecutive 100-yard outing in last Sunday's 20-13 win over San Diego.

12. Seattle Seahawks - If he continues to play like in Sunday's 23-17 overtime win over Chicago, Seattle's Russell Wilson should draw strong consideration with fellow quarterbacks Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) and Robert Griffin III (Washington) for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

13. Washington Redskins - The last time the Redskins made the playoffs came after a strong finish to the 2007 season. History may be set to repeat itself based upon Washington's performance in Monday night's 17-16 win over the New York Giants.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers - A gritty 23-20 win in Baltimore ultimately could be remembered as the victory that propelled the Steelers into the playoffs.

15. Dallas Cowboys - As reinforced by a 38-33 victory over Philadelphia, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo deserves a spot in the playoffs with the way he's performing. The same can't be said about some of his struggling teammates (I'm looking at you, Doug Free).

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Note to Bucs head coach Greg Schiano: There is such a thing as karma. Remember that each time you attack the victory formation like at the end of last Sunday's 31-23 loss to Denver.

17. Minnesota Vikings - Adrian Peterson looks like a lock to win another NFL rushing title. But with the way the rest of Minnesota's offense is playing, he'll have to enjoy the honor at home during the playoffs.

18. New Orleans Saints - That really wasn't Drew Brees forcing passes, mismanaging the clock and throwing five interceptions against Atlanta, was it?

19. St. Louis Rams - If they could only play San Francisco every week, the Rams (5-6-1) might be in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. But with three road games remaining, a postseason berth seems unlikely.

20. Buffalo Bills - The defense is moving toward respectability by limiting the past three opponents to 20 points or less, including Jacksonville in last Sunday's 34-18 win.

21. Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannehill's roller-coaster rookie season took a downward turn with his erratic passing in last Sunday's 23-16 loss to New England.

22. Detroit Lions - The Lions were one of the NFL's best fourth-quarter teams at the midway point of the season. Following last Sunday's 38-33 home defeat against Indianapolis, Detroit (4-8) has now become the first NFL team in at least 30 seasons to lose three straight games after taking a lead into the final two minutes.

23. New York Jets - A 7-6 victory over Arizona was a perfect embodiment of just how ugly this season has become for the Jets (5-7).

24. Cleveland Browns - Pat Shurmur's job as head coach may be safe if Cleveland keeps showing improvement. The Browns (4-8) would string together their first three-game winning streak since the end of 2009 with a victory Sunday against Kansas City.

25. San Diego Chargers - A piece of advice for Chargers fans: Watch only the first three quarters of every game because the fourth will leave you heartbroken. A 20-13 loss to Cincinnati was the latest example.

26. Tennessee Titans - Firing offensive coordinator Chris Palmer didn't pay immediate dividends in last Sunday's 24-10 loss to Houston. If the Titans don't finish strong, expect some other members of the Titans staff to get booted after the season as well.

27. Arizona Cardinals - With the NFL's most pathetic offense, the Cardinals have a legitimate shot at becoming the first team in league history to start 4-0 and finish 4-12.

28. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton is getting back on track. The rest of his team isn't.

29. Philadelphia Eagles - By the time this miserable season is over, head coach Andy Reid may have no more assistants left to fire.

30. Oakland Raiders - Can things get worse in Oakland after a five-game losing streak? You bet - Denver (9-3) comes to the Bay Area for a Thursday night matchup.

31. Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs responded valiantly in the face of tragedy in last Sunday's 27-21 win over Carolina.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars - Now that quarterback Blaine Gabbert is on injured reserve, let's turn the blame for this 2-10 season on a horrendous defense that has generated a league-low 13 sacks and allowed Buffalo to rush for 232 yards in last Sunday's 34-18 loss.

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Ravens' No. 1 run defense will have its hands full with LeGarrette Blount

Ravens' No. 1 run defense will have its hands full with LeGarrette Blount

One of the Ravens’ toughest challenges Monday night will be trying to contain Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount. The Ravens have the NFL’s top-ranked run defense, yielding just 73.8 yards per game. Blount is fifth in the league in rushing (957 yards) and is one of the NFL’s most physical backs.

Jay Ajayi of the Dolphins had 61 yards on 12 carries against the Ravens on Sunday, and his run style is similar to Blount’s. Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams talked about the pride the Ravens take in stopping the run after Sunday’s game.

“We’re the No. 1 run defense in the league right now,” Williams said. “That’s what we do. When running backs come against us, we just do our jobs.”

It will be interesting to see how the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady attack the Ravens. With tight end Rob Gronkowski done for the year with a back injury, Blount figures to be a major part of the Patriots’ game plan.

Blount already has four 100-yard games and is about to top 1,000 yards for only the second time in his career. Will Blount have his way against the Ravens’ No. 1-ranked defense? The answer to that question will play a key role in determining which team wins.

MORE: Joe Flacco can taste the playoffs

 

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Fantasy Football: Finding Playoff Help In Week 14 Waiver Wire

Fantasy Football: Finding Playoff Help In Week 14 Waiver Wire

Week 14 of the fantasy football season means owners are entering the playofs or battling for a berth. Well, some are shakng their heads at Adrian Peterson, DeAndre Hopkins and Eddie Lacy and wondering how it all went so wrong, but let's focus on those still alive or glory. Week 14 also means it's time for two lineup reminders:

1) Don't overthink things: Just because Brock Osweiler has by far the easier matchup on paper don't you dare start him over Andrew Luck.

2) Leave stubborn behind: Yes, you drafted Todd Gurley in the first round. Yes, you're feeling like a boss for stashing Dion Lewis. Yes, Dak Prescott is awesome and only you believed in him from Jump Street. That doesn't mean you MUST start them. Use that brain of yours to assess the scene in terms of production and matchup.

Either way, the Waiver Wire remains a viable tool, even if just to prevent others owners from getting help. Here's a look at some of that potential help.

Quarterbacks 

1.  Joe Flacco, BAL vs. Patriots
 
2.  Trevor Siemien, DEN vs. Titans
 
* More than likely you're set at QB so consider this just the writer doing his due dillegance. I'll assume Andy Dalton (vs. Browns) isn't available, which leaves two other AFC options as your best hope if in need. Flacco is coming off a monster and now faces a situation where he could be in catch-up mode during the second half against New England. As for Siemien, who missed last week with an injury, he gets a Tennessee defense allowing the sixth most points to fantasy quarterbacks and at least two touchdown tosses for seven straight weeks.

Running Backs

1. Mike Gillislee, BUF vs. Steelers

2. Jacquizz Rodgers, TB vs. Saints

3.  Kenneth Dixon, BAL vs. Patriots

4. Rex Burkhead, CIN vs. Browns

Others: Charles Sims, TB;  Justin Forsett, DEN, Shane Vereen, NYG

* No screaming must adds, intrigue exists. Gillislee has four rushing touchdowns over the last four weeks with rushing totals of  85, 32, 72 and 49 yards in that span. ...The Bucs backfield is possibly for grabs after Doug Martin sat out the final three drives in Week 13. ... Jeremy Hill likely leads Cincinnati in attempts against Cleveland, but Burkhead should be all kinds of active in the regular game plan and possible garbage time. 
 
Wide Receivers 

1.  Pierre Garcon, WAS at Eagles
 
2.  Malcolm Mitchell, NE vs. Ravens

3. Adam Thielen, MIN vs. Jaguars
 
4.  Dontrelle Inman, SD at Panthers

5. Tyler Lockett, SEA at Packers
 
5.  Ted Ginn, CAR vs. Chargers
 
* If you like your otther lineup options and need safe help at receiver, look at Garcon (At least 6-67 in four of last five weeks) and Thielen (7 for 89 in Week 13). Mitchell (17 catches, 222 yards and three touchdowns over last three games), Inman, Lockett and Ginn, have higher ceilings.

Tight Ends 

1.  Gary Barnidge, CLE vs. Bengals
 
2.  Dennis Pitta, BAL at Patriots
 
3.  Lance Kendricks, LA vs. Falcons
 
* The Barnidge recommednation isn't about the expected return of Robert Griffin II -- as if -- but facing a Bengals defense allowing the second most points to fantasy tight ends.
 
Defenses – Because you stream this position

1. 49ers (vs. Jets)

2. Colts (vs.Texans)

3. Jets (at 49ers)

* For those already in the playoffs, look ahead to Week 15 and 16 for possible additions.

MORE NFL: Hungry Flacco can almost taste the playoffs