NEW YORK (AP) — Just win, Houston. The Texans did exactly that Sunday, rallying for a 43-37 overtime victory over the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars to retain the top spot in the AP Pro32 NFL power rankings. Houston (9-1) received nine first-place votes and 346 points Tuesday from 11 of the 12 media members on The Associated Press panel reporting their ballots. The San Francisco 49ers moved up two places to second following a 32-7 rout of the Chicago Bears on Monday night. The 49ers got one first-place vote and 326 points, while the New England Patriots had the other first-place vote and are seventh. Despite the close call against the Jaguars, all but two votes stuck with the Texans.
“At some point during the season, every good team deserves a mulligan for performing poorly against a weaker opponent,” Foxsports.com’s Alex Marvez said.
“A win is a win, particularly in the division,” said Rich Gannon of CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Added Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune: “They had a letdown game, got away with it. That’s a sign of a good team.”
ESPN’s Chris Berman was so impressed with the Patriots’ 59-24 romp over the Indianapolis Colts, he moved them to first from sixth.
“Could have done without that 59th point,” said Berman, a reference to the extra point in which tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his left forearm and will be sidelined indefinitely.
Atlanta slipped to third, with Denver, Green Bay and Baltimore rounding out the top six.
After a fifth straight win, Peyton Manning has his Broncos moving higher and higher in the rankings.
“Broncos may be most complete team in the AFC, even without Willis McGahee,” Clark Judge of CBSSports.com said. “Remember, Peyton Manning took the Colts to a Super Bowl with the 32nd-ranked running game.”
The Bears, playing without injured quarterback Jay Cutler, took the biggest tumble of the week — five positions to eighth.
“Jay Cutler can’t get back soon enough, but it’s the defensive meltdown in San Francisco that should have Lovie Smith just as concerned,” said Bob Glauber of Newsday.
Two New York teams — the Jets and Buffalo Bills — had the biggest improvement (five spots) following wins. The Jets are 21st, the Bills 22nd.
Pittsburgh, playing without injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, dropped two places to 11th after a 13-10 loss to Baltimore. This weekend, Charlie Batch starts for Roethlisberger’s backup, Byron Leftwich, who suffered injured ribs against the Ravens.
“They’re suddenly in full scramble mode for an AFC wild-card slot,” said Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune about the Steelers.
Philadelphia continues its free fall from being ranked eighth at the start of the season. The Eagles (3-7) dropped three more places to 27th after a 31-6 loss to Washington.
“How far have the Eagles fallen?” asked Pompei. “It is now news that Andy Reid will be coaching next weekend.”
Kansas City is 32nd, taking over the bottom spot from Jacksonville.
“Worst quarterback situation East of Arizona,” said Clifton Brown of Sporting News.