Lions 13th in AP Pro32 Rankings

By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Sports Writer
  
NEW YORK (AP) -- A close call on the field for the Atlanta Falcons, a near unanimous choice to stay atop the AP Pro32 NFL power rankings.
  
Atlanta (8-0) topped Dallas 19-13 over the weekend to remain the league's only undefeated team. The Falcons received 11 first-place votes and 382 points Tuesday from The Associated Press' 12-person panel of media members who regularly cover the league.
  
The Houston Texans moved into the second spot by one point ahead of the Chicago Bears. Rounding out the first five are the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.
  
The New York Giants, second the past three weeks, dropped into a tie for sixth with the New England Patriots after a loss to Pittsburgh.
  
Houston totaled 363 points and Chicago had 362, with San Francisco receiving the other first-place vote and 348 points.
  
"The NFL's Bon Jovi," said ESPN's Chris Berman of the Falcons, "they're halfway there, but NOT living on a prayer."
  
Despite the perfect record, not everyone's a believer.
  
"Undefeated? Yes. Super Bowl threat? Yes. Best team in football? Still not convinced, said Sporting News' Clifton Brown, who had the 49ers first and the Falcons third behind the Bears.
  
The Texans moved up a spot after their 21-9 win over Buffalo, while the Giants dropped four places after their third loss of the season. The Bears advanced two places after their 52-20 rout of Tennessee, and are set to host the Texans on Sunday night in a matchup of one-loss teams.
  
Foxsports.com's Alex Marvez said the game "could be a preview of Super Bowl XLVII."
  
Many voters singled out the Bears' defense, which already has seven interception returns for touchdowns.
  
"Which offense would you rather have: Jacksonville's or the Bears' defense?" asked CBSSports.com's Clark Judge.
  
Houston, meanwhile, rarely gives up the ball. The Texans lead the lead with just six turnovers.
  
"The Texans haven't had a turnover in five games this year," notes the Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei. "If they can avoid one Sunday, they can beat the Bears."

The Detroit Lions are ranked 13th in this week's poll, one spot behind the Indianapolis Colts and third in the NFC North behind the Bears (2) and Packers (5).

This week's opponent, the Minnesota Vikings are ranked 18th.

Some comments from those on the panel who vote in the poll: 

Chris Berman (ESPN, 12) -- The Lion no longer sleeps tonight.
  
Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 13) -- Building momentum, with huge divisional games against Vikings and Packers next.

Cris Collinsworth (NBC Sports, 13)
  
Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 15) -- Stafford carrying  this team right now; they'd be in trouble without him.
  
Bob Glauber (Newsday, 12) -- Mikel Leshoure does something not even Barry Sanders did in his Hall of Fame career in Detroit: rush for  three first-half TDs as Lions roll over Jags on the road.
  
Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 14) -- The Lions now have the NFC's best offense and have won three of their last four games to resurrect  themselves as a wild-card candidate.
  
Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 11) -- Finally, the Lions are back to .500, but there's still one problem: They play in the same division with Chicago and Green Bay.
  
Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 12) -- Starting to stir, especially that dormant ground game.
  
Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 14) -- The Lion offense is back on track and the presence of running back Mikel Leshoure gives  them some balance. The defense has injury issues and probably need to be supported by more scoring from the offense.
  
John Lynch (Fox Sports, 14) -- An interesting team to watch. We all  know they have the talent. Can they play disciplined football? If so, they can be dangerous.
  
Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 14) -- The Lions finally played a complete game in last Sunday's 31-14 shellacking of Jacksonville.  

Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 13) -- They have won three of four and are  back at .500. Arrow is pointing up.

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San Diego and New Orleans made the biggest advances, moving up six spots each -- the Chargers to 16th, the Saints to 17th despite a 3-5 record. Also, surprising Indianapolis -- 23-20 winners over Miami -- improved four places to 12th after starting the season 32nd and last.
  
"The Colts are having a magical season, inspired by the fight of their head coach Chuck Pagano and a rookie QB who looks nothing like a rookie," said Fox Sports' John Lynch.
  
"Andrew Luck already looks like Peyton Manning. Watch out for the Colts," said SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com's Pat Kirwan.
  
The Philadelphia Eagles, who started the season rated eighth, are now 20th, dropping three spots after Monday night's loss to the Saints.
  
"A sinking ship for Andy Reid and Michael Vick," said CBS Sports/Sirius XM's Rich Gannon.
  
Also tumbling were Minnesota and Washington. The Vikings fell six places to 18th, the Redskins five slots to 23rd.
  
Kansas City is 32nd.
  
"Romeo Crennel

gives up his defensive coordinator duties and appoints Gary Gibbs. Next up: Ben Roethlisberger's Steelers on the road. Good luck with that," said Newsday's Bob Glauber.


 

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