Quick Links

AP Pro32 ballot from Pompei

AP Pro32 ballot from Pompei

Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Dan Pompei of Chicago Tribune:

Week 14

DAN POMPEI (Chicago Tribune)

1. Houston Texans - We will find out all we need to know about this team when they visit New England on Monday.

2. Denver Broncos - As if having Peyton Manning doesn't give them enough of an offensive advantage, now they have Mitch Unrein, too.

3. New England Patriots - They have won six straight and already clinched the AFC East. Can they stay on this tear through February?

4. Atlanta Falcons - They may be the least respected 11-1 team in history. Can anybody figure out why that is?

5. Baltimore Ravens - After a tough loss, it doesn't get easier from here: at the Redskins, Broncos and Giants at home, and at the Bengals.

6. San Francisco 49ers - Alex Smith is advised to keep his arm loose.

7. Green Bay Packers - Greg Jennings back; Jordy Nelson out. Been that kind of year in Green Bay.

8. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck is so good he can win even when he throws three interceptions.

9. Cincinnati Bengals - They have won three in a row by an average of 21 points per game.

10. Seattle Seahawks - Russell Wilson might be putting himself in the rookie of the year discussion.

11. Chicago Bears - They have lost three of four and are looking worn out, but still should win 10 or 11 games.

12. Washington Redskins - Perhaps they will start a new trend, and most every team will be running the triple option fumble.

13. New York Giants - Someone better tell them this is not 2011 and they can't wait until the last two weeks of the season to turn it on.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers - If they can beat the Ravens on the road with Charlie Batch, who can't they beat with Ben Roethlisberger?

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - They probably would love to have someone dive at their knees during a couple of late game kneel downs.

16. Dallas Cowboys - Don't forget about the Cowboys. Tony Romo has thrown 10 touchdowns and two interceptions over the last five games.

17. Minnesota Vikings - They may be wasting one of the all-time great seasons by a running back.

18. St. Louis Rams - If they could play the 49ers every week, the Rams would be one of the best teams in the NFL.

19. New Orleans Saints - They came up awfully small in two of their biggest games of the season the last two weeks.

20. Miami Dolphins - They have lost four of five and Ryan Tannehill has cooled off.

21. New York Jets - Greg McElroy wouldn't have been the best quarterback in any NFL stadium except the one he was in Sunday.

22. Buffalo Bills - They rediscovered the running game after the horse ran out of the barn.

23. Detroit Lions - With Titus Young, Ryan Broyles and Nate Burleson out of action, any guesses on who Matt Stafford will throw to at Lambeau Field Sunday?

24. Cleveland Browns - The Browns have won two in a row and could make it three straight against K.C. Maybe the Mayans were right about the world ending this month.

25. San Diego Chargers - Anyone who weighs 300 pounds or more, please contact A.J. Smith for an offensive line tryout.

26. Arizona Cardinals - Did you ever think they would be longing for Kevin Kolb?

27. Tennessee Titans - OK, so maybe it wasn't all Chris Palmer's fault.

28. Oakland Raiders - Have they begun packing up the U-hauls yet?

29. Carolina Panthers - The Panthers are going to go really young the rest of the season. They should save on razors this way.

30. Philadelphia Eagles - Jim Washburn probably never dreamed getting fired would feel so good.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars - Their fans are more excited about seeing the Jets' backup quarterback Sunday than anyone on their own team.

32. Kansas City Chiefs - Emotion can carry this team only so far. They will have to earn their next victory.

---

Online:

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

http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Report: Boldin to sign with Lions

Report: Boldin to sign with Lions

Former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin is back for a 14th season.

Boldin, who turns 36 in October, will sign a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. In Detroit, Boldin will be reunited with Lions coach Jim Caldwell, who became the Ravens offensive coordinator during their run to the Super Bowl in the 2012 season.

The Lions had a major void at wide receiver with All-Pro Calvin Johnson's retirement.

RELATED: RAVENS AGREE TO ONE-YEAR DEAL WITH OL JAKE LONG

A former second-round draft pick, Boldin spent seven seasons with the Cardinals before the Ravens traded for him in 2010. In three seasons with the Ravens, Boldin averaged 62 catches and 882 yards. He came up huge in the 2012 playoff run, with a team-best 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He had six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl win over the 49ers.

After that Super Bowl run, though, Boldin was traded to the 49ers for a sixth-round draft pick. Boldin led the 49ers in catches and receiving yards in each of the past three years. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the 49ers in 2013 and 2014, leading many to question the Ravens decision to trade him. Last season, Boldin led the 49ers with 69 catches for 789 yards.

Boldin enters this season ranked 17th in NFL history with 13,195 receiving yards. One of the few players ahead of him is current Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr., who ranks 11th (13,392). Boldin last season became the 13th player in NFL history with 1,000 career receptions and now has 1,009. Smith, incidentally, needs 39 catches this season join Boldin in the 1,000-catch club.

MORE RAVENS: RETURNING PUNTS KEY FOR 3 RAVENS WR'S ON BUBBLE

Quick Links

Ravens agree to one-year deal with former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long

Ravens agree to one-year deal with former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long

The Ravens are expected to sign veteran offensive lineman Jake Long after he flies into Baltimore on Tuesday night, CSN has confirmed. The impending Long-Ravens deal was first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN, who reported that Long and the Ravens had agreed to a one-year deal. That contract is expected to be signed if there were no last-minute concerns once Long arrived in town.

Long is a former Pro Bowl left tackle with the Dolphins who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. He spent five seasons with the Dolphins, before joining the Rams for two seasons, then playing four games with the Falcons last season. Long is still only 31 years old, but he has been plagued by injuries in recent seasons, including two torn ACL’s.

The Ravens view Long as insurance at left tackle to as a backup to first-round pick Ronnie Stanley. While the Ravens believe Stanley can handle the starting job, the Ravens were left thin at the position after releasing veteran Eugene Monroe, who has since retired. James Hurst has been the Ravens’ backup left tackle, but in Long, the Ravens would have a more experienced option should Stanley struggle or suffer an injury.

RELATED: RETURNING PUNTS KEY FOR 3 RAVENS WR'S ON BUBBLE

Quick Links

For three Ravens WR's on bubble, returning punts could be key

For three Ravens WR's on bubble, returning punts could be key

The Ravens don’t know who their primary punt returner will be, but they have plenty of options heading into training camp.

Keenan Reynolds, Michael Campanaro, and Kaelin Clay should all get reps returning punts. All three of those wide receivers are on the roster bubble, making their contributions on special teams even more important.

Campanaro has shown he can contribute as a wide receiver when he’s healthy.  However, avoiding injuries has been a major issue for Campanaro during his first two seasons.

The Ravens would prefer their punt returner to help the 53-man roster in another capacity, which may give Campanaro an edge. But if Campanaro, Reynolds, and Clay are not among the top six wide receivers when final cuts have to be made, will the Ravens decide to keep any of them strictly for their ability to return punts?

Reynolds will be a popular storyline during camp, as he tries to make the transition from Navy quarterback to NFL wide receiver. If Reynolds shows promise as a receiver, it will increase his chances of making the team, because his speed and ability to change direction will likely translate well to returning punts. Meanwhile, Clay had an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Browns last season, so he has already shown explosiveness as a returner.

Figuring out their best option for returning punts is one of many things on the Ravens’ to-do list, with the first full-squad practice scheduled for Thursday.