NEW YORK — Despite losing for the second time in three weeks, the Seattle Seahawks remained atop The Associated Press NFL power rankings.
Seattle was upset by Arizona last Sunday, its first loss at home all season. Yet the Seahawks (12-3) stayed in first place with 379 points, nine in front of Denver, which also is 12-3. Seattle grabbed eight first-place votes from a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the league, and Denver got the other four.
Both teams have clinched playoff berths.
“The Rams game is now huge,” NBC’s Tony Dungy said of the Seahawks’ season closer. “They need a win to keep the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
ESPN’s Herm Edwards went with Denver on top, citing Peyton Manning’s record-setting exploits.
“When you set the NFL record throwing 51 touchdowns and you have one game left, you are No. 1,” Edwards said of the Broncos, who own the AFC West title.
San Francisco, Carolina and New England, all with 11-4 records, were next in the AP Pro32. They also are in the playoffs.
“Still trying to figure out how Brady and Belichick won their 11th AFC East championship,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said of the Patriots.
Of the 49ers, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com said: “Flexing their muscle a bit roaring down the stretch with five consecutive wins.”
And Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune noted about Carolina: “Luke Kuechly won’t let the NFC South title elude the Panthers, who have won 10 of 11.”
A win at Atlanta on Sunday gives Carolina the division and a first-round playoff bye.
At the bottom were Houston with a mere 12 points, and Washington, with 29. Both division winners last season, the Texans are 2-13, the Redskins 3-12.
“Might as well close out this debacle of a season in style,” Kaufman said of the Texans, who have lost 13 in a row.
“Counting down the days until we find out what happens to Mike Shanahan,” Bob Glauber of Newsday said of the Redskins.
The same top 10 teams, albeit in a different order, remained this week: Cincinnati, Kansas City, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Arizona.
Either the Saints or Cardinals won’t make the playoffs despite gaudy 10-5 records heading into their finales.
“The Cardinals have double-digit wins for only the seventh time in their 93-year history,” noted Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
“Their road record, now 3-5 after the loss to Carolina, becomes a little bigger problem each week,” Legwold added of the Saints.
San Diego, which still has a shot at an AFC wild-card at 8-7, improved four spots to 12th, a big move for so late in the schedule. The Chargers impressed Glauber:
“The Chargers take care of business against the Raiders at home and still have a chance at a playoff run with a win over the Chiefs and losses by Baltimore and Miami.”