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 15

DAN POMPEI (Chicago Tribune)

1. New England Patriots - Step into Bill Belichick's web, Colin Kaepernick.

2. Denver Broncos - They need to beat the Ravens in order to keep their hopes alive for a first round playoff bye.

3. Green Bay Packers - Mike McCarthy believes this team can be better than the 15-1 Packers of a year ago. Can the Bears make him look wrong on Sunday?

4. San Francisco 49ers - Beating the Dolphins was one thing; beating the Patriots would be something else.

5. Houston Texans - In three of their last four games, Texans have a blowout loss to the Patriots and close call wins against the Jaguars and Lions. Any question about which direction the Texans are headed?

6. Atlanta Falcons - Was loss to the Panthers a blip, or was it the start of a tailspin?

7. New York Giants - If NFL teams had no secondaries, the Giants would be No. 1.

8. Indianapolis Colts - The best teams can win games in different ways. The Colts have done that.

9. Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens defense needs a savior. What do you know, here comes Ray Lewis.

10. Seattle Seahawks - They are starting to have the look of a team you would not want to be playing in January.

11. Washington Redskins - You know things are going their way when Kirk Cousins can lead them to an overtime victory over a formidable opponent.

12. Cincinnati Bengals - Their litmus test will be against the Steelers in two weeks, but they can't overlook the Eagles on Thursday.

13. Chicago Bears - The more passes Bears receivers drop, the more the Bears drop in the power rankings.

14. Dallas Cowboys - Could they ride a wave of emotion all the way to the postseason?

15. Minnesota Vikings - They have the best one-dimensional offense in the NFL.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers - Against the Raiders, Browns, Titans and Chargers, they are 0-4. Good thing the next two games are against contenders.

17. St. Louis Rams - It's not saying much, but this is the best Rams team that St. Louis has seen in quite some time.

18. New York Jets - The fact that they may be a playoff team does not speak well to the quality of the AFC this year.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Any team that can blow a 21-10 lead with four minutes left against the Eagles is not a good bet to be playing on February 3. Or Jan. 20. Or Jan. 12, 13, 5 or 6.

20. Cleveland Browns - If the season started three weeks ago, they would be a top five team.

21. New Orleans Saints - Joe Vitt describes his team as "fragile." And the Giants did not handle with care.

22. San Diego Chargers - It might be too late to save jobs, but that was an impressive effort by Norv Turner and the Chargers Sunday.

23. Miami Dolphins - Bad news: they have dropped five of six. Good news: up next are the Jags and Bills at home.

24. Buffalo Bills - Who needs to use C.J. Spiller when you are 5-8?

25. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton is starting to look like the 2011 version of Cam Newton. Where was this guy in September?

26. Detroit Lions - Their fifth straight loss has clinched them last place in the NFC North.

27. Philadelphia Eagles - Nick Foles has begun making his argument for why he should be the Eagles' staring QB in 2013.

28. Tennessee Titans - The Titans can write off the season to the education of Jake Locker.

29. Oakland Raiders - It might be Terrelle Pryor time in Oakland.

30. Arizona Cardinals - Fifty-eight points separated them from the Seahawks in their ninth straight loss. Change is coming in Arizona.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars - Look at the bright side, Jacksonville - only 19 days until it's the offseason.

32. Kansas City Chiefs - Getting blown out by the Browns might not do much for team morale.

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Forsett's cousin is on The Bachelorette — and survived the opener

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Forsett's cousin is on The Bachelorette — and survived the opener

Because Monday Night Football only runs in the fall and winter, one would think that America's TV guide would be lacking a program full of intense, testosterone-driven competition between determined men during the summer time. But that's why ABC has given us The Bachelorette, a dating game show that'll come on once a week and features a woman named Jo Jo looking for love amongst a handful of guys wearing suits that are way too tight and sporting unhealthy amounts of hair gel.

Fine, so it's not a perfect substitution for four quarters of NFL action, but it'll have to do (it beats turning the TV off and interacting with loved ones, at least). And for Ravens running back Justin Forsett, The Bachelorette will actually be more than something he simply puts up on the screen when he doesn't want to watch The Departed, which is seemingly on at least once a day, again. That's because his cousin is a contestant striving for Jo Jo's heart.

Here's what Forsett had to say during the show's premiere:

Then, when asked which of the dudes he was related to, he responded:

When looking through The Bachelorette's cast, there's no Chris, but there is a Christian, whom must be the person Forsett is referring to. As far as how Christian's debut went? Well — to put it into football terms — he picked up a win in Week 1:

Of course, Forsett was unable to escape the night without being on the receiving end of some ridicule. Former Jaguars star (and teammate of Forsett's in 2013) Maurice Jones-Drew fired this message off after seeing the Ravens' workhorse's original post in which he said he hopes Christian would come out on top:

Well, Christian survived the opener, at least. Whether he's able to keep the drive going and eventually cross the goal line as the show's champion, though, is something that will only be revealed in the coming episodes. 

(Author's note: Writing about The Bachelorette while using football metaphors helps make writing about The Bachelorette feel more acceptable). 

MORE RAVENS: HARBAUGH ZINGS MIKE TOMLIN A COUPLE OF TIMES

Forsett visits prison, talks with inmates who have him in fantasy football

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Forsett visits prison, talks with inmates who have him in fantasy football

When Ravens running back Justin Forsett visited San Quentin State (Calif.) Prison recently, he had no idea his value in fantasy football would be a topic of conversation with inmates.

Forsett went to college at Cal, which is about 25 miles from San Quentin. He became a popular fantasy football choice with inmates, after he rushed for a career–best 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014. However, Forsett’s production fell last season to just 641 yards and two touchdowns, after he missed the final six games with a broken arm.

Inmates who took Forsett in their fantasy draft were not happy. And they didn’t mind telling Forsett.

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“As were walking through, inmates were running up to me, hugging me, whispering to each other about me, yelling, ‘Hey, yo Forsett,’’’ he wrote on his personal blog. “I had you on my fantasy team last season.”

“I was like, ‘What, you all have fantasy football in here?’ It brings a new perspective a season-ending injury when you have an inmate telling you he had you on his fantasy team…and I know I didn’t get any points for this guy.

“You know, I had to apologize. It was a surreal experience that these guys know who you are and are playing fantasy football.”

The visit wasn’t all fun and laughter for Forsett. He was part of the San Quentin Squires Program, which brings youngsters to the prison, to expose them to the realities of prison life as a deterrent to breaking the law.

Forsett was impressed with what the inmates told the youngsters.

“Since one bad decision can land you in a place like this, the inmates really encourage them to avoid this life path,” Forsett wrote. “Some of them - I’m talking murderers in there for life – shared their stories and made sure the kids understood that jail is not a cool place to be.”

After that experience, Forsett is less likely to complain about the dog days of training camp. And he has also learned that San Quentin does fantasy football.

MORE RAVENS: HARBAUGH ZINGS TOMLIN OVER HANDSHAKES, JACOBY JONES

AFC North: Veteran pass rusher Freeney reportedly to work out for Bengals

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AFC North: Veteran pass rusher Freeney reportedly to work out for Bengals

Veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney has been looking for a landing spot, and the Cincinnati Bengals could be it. The Bengals plan to work out Freeney this week, according to Coley Harvey of ESPN.com

Freeney turned 36 years old in February, but looked like he still had gas in his tank last season with the Cardinals. An October pickup, Freeney produced eight sacks and forced three fumbles in just 245 snaps, and helped the Cardinals reach the NFC championship game.

Consider that Freeney’s eight sacks last season were more than anyone on the Ravens had. Elvis Dumervil led the Ravens in 2015 with six sacks.

How well Freeney would fit with the Bengals, who play primarily a 4-3, could be an issue. But Freeney’s veteran leadership might be an asset to a Bengals team trying to end years of playoff frustration. The Bengals have made the playoffs five straight seasons, but have lost their playoff opener each of those times. Freeney won a Super Bowl with the Colts, and would like to play in another before he calls it quits.

RELATED: HARBAUGH ZINGS TOMLIN OVER HANDSHAKES, JACOBY JONES