NEW YORK (AP)
While Tom Brady cares for his damaged nose, New England Patriots fans
can gain comfort from having their team lead the AP Pro32 power
Thanks to Brady's impressive work at Tennessee, even with a possible
broken nose, the Patriots moved into the top spot of the first regular
season poll released Tuesday. New England's convincing win and Green
Bay's home loss to San Francisco jumbled the rankings at the top.
Further down, Washington, Tampa Bay, Dallas and Denver surged thanks to
In voting by 12 media members who regularly cover the NFL, the Patriots
received eight top selections to earn 378 points, 10 in front of San
Francisco. The 49ers moved from fourth to second and earned one
''Business as usual,'' is how ESPN's Chris Berman explained placing
Brady's bunch on top.
''The Patriots looked just OK in the preseason. Not so fast!'' said
former All-Pro safety John Lynch, now with Fox Sports. ''They whooped
up on a good Titans team. Brady and the youth-infused defense looked
like a team deserving of the No. 1 ranking.
Only Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune selected the 49ers as the best
team, reasoning that their showing at Lambeau Field warranted a jump
from No. 4.
''People don't want to believe this team can be this good with Alex Smith at quarterback,'' Pompei said. ''Believe it.''
Also getting strong support were Baltimore, third with 357 points and
two first-place votes, and Houston with 336 and one.
''Ravens show in no uncertain terms how ready they are to get back to
the AFC championship game - and perhaps beyond,'' Newsday's Bob Glauber
said. ''After honoring the memory of the late Art Modell in a rousing
pregame ceremony, Joe Flacco engineers the rout. More where that came
And more from the Texans, whose 30-10 demolition of Miami persuaded
Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News to vote them No. 1 - even if
the Dolphins rank 32nd and last.
''Andre Johnson is healthy. The AFC is in trouble,'' Gosselin said.
Green Bay rounded out the top five with 326 points.
Making big jumps in the rankings were Washington, up eight spots to No.
16; Tampa Bay, improving from 26th to 19th; Dallas, up six spots to No.
9; and Denver, from 11th to sixth.
''The RG3 show is off and running,'' said Rich Gannon, the 2002 NFL
Most Valuable Player now working for SiriusXM NFL Radio and CBS Sports.
As for the Broncos, NBC Sports' Cris Collinsworth, who called their win
over Pittsburgh, saw their improved simply as ''Manning and a much
improved run defense.''
Moving the other way were the defending champion New York Giants, New Orleans and Buffalo.
After the Giants couldn't ride the emotion of unveiling their latest
championship hardware and lost the season's kickoff game at home to the
Cowboys, they fell seven spots to No. 10.
''They have to find a way to protect their secondary with a better pass
rush, as well as their offensive line protecting Eli Manning better,''
said Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports and SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Buffalo was down seven places, too, plummeting to 27th following a
48-28 loss to the Jets, who now rank 15th.
''So much for all the offseason playoff hype,'' said Alex Marvez of
Foxsports.com. ''The Bills will be drafting in the top 12 of the first
round for the eighth consecutive year if they can't clean up the mess
on display last Sunday against the Jets.''
New Orleans also had a big drop, from ninth to 14th after a sloppy
performance against Washington. One voter wondered why that didn't
prompt some further action from the Saints' star quarterback.
''These guys should be - and will be - better than they showed,'' Clark
Judge of CBSSports.com said. ''They have too much talent. My question:
After what happened, how come Drew Brees doesn't demand an