NEW YORK (AP) — The New England Patriots are moving up in the AP Pro32 power rankings, thanks to another second-half-of-the-season winning streak.
While the Houston Texans remained on top for the third straight week, the Patriots jumped three places to fourth Tuesday in voting by The Associated Press' panel of 12 media members who regularly cover the league.
San Francisco and Atlanta stayed second and third, respectively.
"Pats are on fire, scoring a combined 190 points in their last four wins. Defense is getting better, too," said Bob Glauber of Newsday. "Ready for another Super Bowl run?
New England (8-3) routed the New York Jets 49-19 on Thursday night for its fifth straight win. Tom Brady and the Patriots closed out the previous two regular seasons by winning their final eight games.
"Why worry about defense when you average 37 points per game?" said Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune.
The Texans (10-1) won their second overtime game in five days last week, topping Detroit 34-31 on Thursday. Houston received seven first-place votes and 370 points.
"Their defense looks more vulnerable, but Matt Schaub is on a roll," said Clifton Brown of The Sporting News after listing Houston sixth on his ballot.
"Two straight wins in overtime shows this team knows how to finish," countered Rich Gannon of CBS Sports/Sirius XM after voting the Texans first.
The 49ers, 8-2-1 after their 31-21 win at New Orleans with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback, had three-first place votes and 365 points. The Falcons, who edged Tampa Bay 24-23, had 354 points — two more then the Patriots, who received the other two first-place votes and 352 points.