NEW YORK (AP) — No surprises at the top of the AP Pro32 power rankings this week: New England and Dallas, at 7-1 owning the NFL’s best records, are 1-2.
Moving up to the third spot for their highest ranking ever in the AP Pro32 are the Oakland Raiders.
In voting by 12 media members who regularly cover the NFL, the Patriots are a unanimous choice once again for the top spot, even though they didn’t play last weekend. Dallas, coming off an easy victory at winless Cleveland (No. 32) is a solid second, 21 points ahead of Oakland.
The Silver and Black earned the third spot with their convincing win over Denver, beating out AFC West rival Kansas City by nine points in the balloting Tuesday. The Raiders haven’t made the postseason since winning the 2002 AFC championship.
“Derek Carr continues his MVP-caliber season with a massive win over the Broncos, and the Raiders’ defense is finally starting to live up to its potential,” says Bob Glauber of Newsday. “They’re not in a class with the Patriots, but they’re getting closer.”
Adds Ira Kaufman of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee: “Nobody beats up the Raiders in the trenches anymore, and 25-year-old Carr has emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate.”
Seattle ranks fifth, followed by Atlanta, Denver, the New York Giants, Minnesota and Washington.
The Falcons particularly impress Glauber and Kaufman.
“With 23 touchdown passes, Matt Ryan has already surpassed last year’s total (21) in just nine games,” Glauber notes. “That’s the difference for a Falcons team that is now in solid control of the NFC South.”
Adds Kaufman: “This defense can be had, but the NFL’s most prolific attack has not been held below 23 points all season.”
This week’s biggest movers up the AP Pro32 rankings are the Ravens (up 8 to No. 16), Giants (plus 6) and Lions (plus 6 to 11th). Baltimore’s defense shut down the Steelers on Sunday, while the Giants held off the Eagles and Detroit won at slumping Minnesota.
Falling the furthest are Buffalo, down six spots to 22nd, and Tennessee, also down six to 25. The Bills took almost as hard a hit in the voting as they did from the officiating in their loss at Seattle on Monday night. The Titans were outscored by San Diego.
Down at the bottom are the Browns, 13 points behind No. 31 San Francisco.
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