NEW YORK (AP) — It’s unanimous: The perfect Patriots are the top team in the AP Pro32 power rankings released on Tuesday.
The Patriots received all 12 first-place votes and 384 points in balloting by 12 media members who regularly cover the league.
New England (7-0) beat the Miami Dolphins 36-7 on Thursday night.
“Suddenly, all that 19-0 speculation doesn’t seem very far-fetched,” the Tampa Tribune’s Ira Kaufman said of the possibility of the Patriots finishing the season unbeaten.
The Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos, also both 7-0, tied for second with 366 points.
The Bengals moved up one spot after their 16-10 win over the Steelers on Sunday. They open Week 9 when they host the Cleveland Browns on Thursday.
“You keep waiting for the Bengals to stumble, but it hasn’t happened,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said.
“They shook off a mostly lackluster showing in Pittsburgh by taking advantage of two Ben Roethlisberger fourth-quarter interceptions and winning it late, 16-10. That’s the first-ever 7-0 start for the Bengals.”
Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis this week when the Broncos face the Colts.
“Great defense and Manning might not be done,” NBC Sports’ Tony Dungy said.
The Carolina Panthers, the NFC’s only 7-0 team, remained at No. 4 after their 29-26 overtime win over Indy on Monday night.
“The Panthers are off to their first 7-0 start in franchise history,” said Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News.
“Their best previous start was 5-0 in 2003 — and Carolina went on to play in the Super Bowl that season.”
On Sunday, the Panthers host the Packers, who fell to No. 5 after their 29-10 loss to the Broncos.
“All of a sudden, there are a lot of questions about Green Bay,” ESPN’s Herm Edwards said.
The Cardinals remained at No. 6 going into their bye week after beating the Browns.
“(Carson) Palmer having a truly special season,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said.
The 49ers dropped from No. 26 to 30. They have benched quarterback Colin Kaepernick and will start Blaine Gabbert on Sunday against Atlanta.
“Blaine Gabbert is replacing Colin Kaepernick at quarterback,” Foxsports.com’s Alex Marvez said. “And you thought the 49ers season couldn’t get any worse?”
The Tennessee Titans remained last at No. 32. The Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt as coach on Tuesday and hired Mike Mularkey as the interim coach.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL