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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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Joe Flacco and his wife welcome fourth child, first daughter

Joe Flacco and his wife welcome fourth child, first daughter

OWINGS MILLS — Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and his wife, Dana, became proud parents for the fourth time Tuesday with the birth of their daughter, Evelyn Renee, the team announced. It’s the first girl for the Flaccos, who have three sons — Stephen (4), Daniel (3) and Francis (1).

“It was definitely different,” Flacco told the team’s website of watching his daughter’s birth. “Seeing a girl come out after three boys was a bit of a shock. Everybody is beyond overjoyed, beyond pumped. I’m sure there will be a ton of pink flooding into our house. It will be interesting to see how the boys handle her.”

Flacco said he was hoping for a girl.

“I was keeping my fingers crossed,” Flacco said. “You hear fathers getting scared about not having boys, but I was starting to get to the point that I was scared about not having a little girl. It’s just something I wanted.”


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Kelechi Osemele says he never came close to re-signing with Ravens

Kelechi Osemele says he never came close to re-signing with Ravens

OWINGS MILLS — Raiders left guard Kelechi Osemele had plenty to say during a Wednesday conference call before facing his former team, the Ravens, on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Osemele said he didn’t come close to re-signing with the Ravens during free agency in March, because their offer wasn’t competitive. Osemele signed a five-year, $58 million contract with Oakland, which included $25.4 million guaranteed.

Osemele said he knew that his fourth season with the Ravens would be his last, after talking to other ex-Ravens who had departed during free agency like 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith.

“Honestly, we didn’t get close at all,” said Osemele. “I pretty much knew right away I was going somewhere else, because some of the things that were being brought back to me, were, borderline they can hurt your feelings.

“The Raiders were very up front about how badly they wanted me. It was a pretty much a no-brainer. I talked to Torrey Smith about it and some other guys. They kind of told me that it might be a situation where Baltimore won’t offer me enough to stay. It’s something that does happen with that organization, because they’re able to find so many young players.”

Rookie left guard Alex Lewis has replaced Osemele in the Ravens’ starting lineup, playing next to another rookie, left tackle Ronnie Stanley. But with the Ravens unbeaten (3-0) and the Raiders off to a 2-1 start, Osemele was looking forward to competing against players he used to practice against every day.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Osemele said. “You couldn’t really finish through and pancake (during practice). Just to go out and talk a little trash and compete against those guys is going to be fun.”

Asked for any Ravens in particular he looked forward to pancake blocking, Osemele chuckled and said, “You’ll see on Sunday.”

Osemele said he enjoyed his time in Baltimore and that he wasn’t surprised the Ravens were 3-0.

“It was great,” Osemele said of his time in Baltimore. “I still have a lot of friends there. I come back when I can. I just like the city. I had fun there off the field. I love the organization and believe in what they do for the community, but I’m somewhere else now. I won a Super Bowl in Baltimore. I already know what the organization’s all about. There’s a standard of excellence there, something that we’re trying to have here in Oakland.”

Osemele added that there was “one coach in particular” he didn’t see eye-to-eye with in Baltimore, but didn’t specify which coach it was. But judging from his comments, it’s safe to say Osemele is looking forward to facing the Ravens.