By RICHARD ROSENBLATT, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — A close call on the field, a clear win in the AP Pro32 NFL power rankings.
The Atlanta Falcons soared to the top of the rankings Tuesday after a 23-20 win over the Oakland Raiders left them as the league's only unbeaten team.
Atlanta (6-0) received 11 of the 12 first-place votes and 381 points from The Associated Press panel of media members who regularly cover the NFL.
"Good things always bode well for the last undefeated team standing," Chris Berman of ESPN said after the Falcons won another close game, this time on Matt Bryant's 55-yard field goal with a second left.
Then again, there's still a nonbeliever.
"Undefeated, but they don't pass the eye test for being the best team," notes Clifton Brown of Sporting News after ranking the Falcons fourth with the New York Giants on top.
The Giants moved up five spots to second with one first-place vote and 364 points after a 26-3 win over San Francisco. The Baltimore Ravens were third with 352 points.
The Houston Texans, who held the top spot for three weeks before their first loss, 42-24 to Green Bay, were fourth, followed by the 49ers.
The Falcons became the fifth team to be ranked No. 1 this season. The others were Green Bay, New England, San Francisco and Houston.
Voters were impressed with the way the Giants came into San Francisco and dominated a team looking to avenge its overtime loss to New York in the NFC championship game last season.
"From an offense/defense/special teams standpoint, New York's 26-3 win at San Francisco was the most impressive victory posted by any team this season," said Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com.
Added Berman: "THAT'S why they're the defending champs."
Although the Ravens are third, there's concern about how they will fare with star linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb out for the season with injuries.
"Talk about a Pyrrhic victory. That Dallas game may have cost the Ravens more than they ever thought possible," said Clark Judge of CBSSports.com.
On the upswing are Seattle, Denver and Washington.
The Redskins and Seahawks each moved up six spots after big wins. Washington was 13th after its win over Minnesota and the Seattle was ninth after its win over New England.
"This is a dangerous team with a nasty defense and a smooth rookie QB," Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com/Sirius XM said of the Seahawks. "Big, big game Thursday night against the 49ers.
As for Robert Griffin III and the Redskins, Judge said: "I don't know how much the Redskins win, but I know RG3 makes them must-see TV."
The Broncos were up five sports to 10th after a comeback 35-24 win over San Diego on Monday night.
"No matter how many times Peyton Manning makes this kind of magic, it never gets old watching it," Bob Glauber of Newsday said. "His second-half rally in San Diego ranks near the top of pages-long list of career highlights."
There are 11 teams with 3-3 records. The highest ranked is Green Bay at seventh; the lowest is Buffalo at 24th.
"I laugh at people who question and criticize reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers ... Really?" asked Rich Gannon of CBS Sports/Sirius XM after listing the Packers at sixth.
As for the Bills, one voter had them 27th, even after their 19-16 overtime win at Arizona.
"With the season they've had, they're tied for first in AFC East. Wacky," said Sporting News' Brown.
Jacksonville fell to 32nd and last, replacing Cleveland after the Browns won for the first time and moved up to 30th.
"Last in offense, 29th in defense and first in line for the top pick in the 2013 draft," Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune said.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL
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