The Seattle Seahawks were a unanimous choice Tuesday for the top spot in the AP Pro32 power rankings, and their opponent on Monday night, New Orleans, came in second.
Seattle remained first in the voting by a 12-member panel that regularly covers the league, but improved from seven first-place votes to sweeping all of them. The Seahawks did so even though they were idle last week.
They host the Saints in prime time this week, with New Orleans jumping from fourth to second place. Seattle earned 384 points in the voting, and New Orleans got 368.
"The Monday night matchup against the Saints is so tasty, it doesn't need any extra hype," said Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune. "Many QBs have been psyched out playing in noisy Seattle. Drew Brees isn't on the list."
There's also a new team at the bottom of the rankings, Houston. The Texans lost to Jacksonville last Sunday, which drops them to 32nd and moves the Jaguars out of the cellar for the first time this season to 30th overall.
"After 15 weeks of the 2012 season, the Texans were 12-2 and holding down the top seed in the AFC playoff bracket," noted Rich Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. "Since that time, including playoffs, they have won only three of their next 12 games. They own the worst record in the AFC at 2-9."
Houston began the year ranked seventh, so its fall hasn't been the steepest. Atlanta (also 2-9) was one successful play away from winning the NFC championship last season. The Falcons now rank 31st after beginning the year as the No. 3 team in the AP Pro32.
"Injury-riddled and a bad-looking team at this point," Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports and SiriusXM Satellite Radio said. "I hope Matt Ryan stays healthy to the end. The Falcons will regroup in 2014."
Back at the top of the power rankings through Week 12, Denver and New England tied for third with 349 points. Seems appropriate because they went into overtime on Sunday night before the Patriots won 34-31.
"Tough loss to the Patriots, but the silver lining is that they found themselves a running game," said Herm Edwards of ESPN.
"The Brady-Gronk Show is back and looking for first-round bye," added John Czarnecki of Fox Sports.
Rounding out the top 10 were Carolina, Kansas City, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Arizona and Indianapolis. The biggest moves up the rankings were made by San Diego, from a tie for 22nd to a tie for 16th, and Arizona, from 13th to ninth.
"Time to take this team seriously, especially after the way they completely dismantled the Colts in a 40-11 rout at home," Bob Glauber of Newsday said of the Cardinals.
"Philip Rivers has at least 390 yards passing in four games this season, tying Dan Marino and Joe Montana for the most such games in a single season," Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star Telegram said.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL