NEW YORK — Being the NFL’s only unbeaten team has its perks — at least this week.
The Atlanta Falcons had their bye weekend and still remained first in the AP Pro32 NFL power rankings Tuesday, but the New York Giants gained ground after a thrilling win over the Washington Redskins.
The Falcons received 10 first-place votes and 378 points from The Associated Press’ 12-member panel of media members who regularly cover the NFL. The Giants, who beat the Redskins 27-23 on Eli Manning’s 77-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz with 1:13 left in the game, had two first-place votes and 366 points.
Last week, the Giants had one-first place vote and trailed the Falcons by 17 points. The margin is 12 points this week.
“Who’s better than Eli Manning in the last two minutes? Nobody,” said Sporting News’ Clifton Brown, who had the Giants first and the Falcons fifth on his ballot even though the defending Super Bowl champions have two losses.
The Falcons needed some last-minute heroics to pull out a few games, and Sunday they visit Philadelphia — a team also coming off a bye but unbeaten following its week off under coach Andy Reid.
“Falcons have been cutting it close in recent weeks, relying on some dramatic late-game drama from Matt & Matt (Ryan and Bryant),” said Newsday’s Bob Glauber. “Might need more of the same on Sunday at Philly.”
The Houston Texans rebounded from their loss to Green Bay by thumping the Baltimore Ravens 43-13 and moving up to third with 362 points. San Francisco was fourth with 344 points and Chicago fifth with 341 points.
New Orleans made the biggest move after its second straight win, advancing six spots to No. 17 despite a 2-4 record. Voters, though, remain leery.
“Don’t worry about Drew Brees and the offense, but you should be concerned about that defense,” said Rich Gannon on CBS Sports/Sirius XM.
The defense faces another stern test Sunday night against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, who are up to ninth with a 3-3 record.
The Ravens tumbled five places to eighth.
“This is still a really good team, it just played a really bad game. The Ravens will be back,” said the Chicago Tribune’s Dan Pompei.
Clark Judge of CBSSports.com had a different verdict.
“Seldom has 5-2 felt worse,” he said. “It’s not just that the Ravens lost their first game without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb; it’s that they were destroyed.”
Also dropping five spots was Arizona, which fell to 19th after its third straight loss. The Cardinals, who host San Francisco on Monday night, were as high as fifth after getting off to a 4-0 start.
“Must dig in Monday night versus 49ers,” said ESPN’s Chris Berman.
Jacksonville held down the 32nd and last spot after a 26-23 overtime loss to Oakland.