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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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.