Vikings climb one spot in AP Pro32 rankings

Leslie Frazier (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY)

The Vikings moved up one spot in the AP Pro32 rankings as Adrian Peterson continues to amaze those who cover the NFL.

A nine-game winning streak has Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on top of the AP Pro32 NFL power rankings for the first time.

The latest win came on the road, 34-17 at Baltimore, and was impressive enough to lift the Broncos to No. 1 by three points over the San Francisco 49ers.

AFC West champion Denver (11-3) and playoff-bound San Francisco each received six first-place votes Tuesday in balloting by The Associated Press' panel of 12 media members who regularly cover the league. The Broncos outpointed the 49ers for first, 375-372, in the closest voting of the season.

"The Broncos haven't lost since early October and won't lose the next two weeks," said CBSSports.com's Clark Judge, referring to Denver's closing games against Cleveland and Kansas City. "They're hot, they're complete and they have Peyton. What's not to like?"

Half the voters preferred the 49ers, who stormed to a 28-point lead over the Patriots on the road, then hung on for a 41-34 win to clinch a playoff berth. The 49ers can win the NFC West with a victory at Seattle on Sunday.

"Maybe the biggest regular-season win in the Jim Harbaugh era," said Bob Glauber of Newsday. "Not only a dominating early showing against the Pats on the road, but a terrific recovery after New England's furious comeback."

New England dropped from the top spot to third, followed by Atlanta and Houston. The Falcons and Texans bounced back with big wins after losses the previous week.

"Brady's still incredible, but don't know if I trust that defense," said Rich Gannon of CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Atlanta and Houston have the best records in the league at 12-2, but voters questioned whether the teams are really that good. Both did some convincing Sunday when the Falcons shut out the Super Bowl champion New York Giants 34-0 and the Texans dominated the Indianapolis Colts 29-17.

"Quite a statement, first shutout registered vs. defending Super Bowl champ since 1981," Chris Berman of ESPN said of Atlanta.

"J.J. Watt is a wrecking crew," Sporting News' Clifton Brown said of the Texans. "They'll be tough at home in January."

Green Bay remained sixth after clinching the NFC North with a win over the rival Chicago Bears.

AP PRO32 POWER RANKINGS

The Associated Press Pro32 NFL Power Rankings, as voted by a 12-member panel, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec. 18, total points based on 32 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 32nd-place vote, and previous ranking:

Pl. Team		W	L	T	Pts	Pvs

1. Denver Broncos (6) 11 3 0 375 2
2. San Fran 49ers (6) 10 3 1 372 3
3. New England Pats 10 4 0 354 1
4. Atlanta Falcons 12 2 0 349 5
5. Houston Texans 12 2 0 335 4
6. Green Bay Packers 10 4 0 330 6
7. Seattle Seahawks 9 5 0 318 8
8. Washington Redskins 8 6 0 290 11
9. Baltimore Ravens 9 5 0 267 8
9. New York Giants 8 6 0 267 6
11. Indianapolis Colts 9 5 0 266 10
12. Dallas Cowboys 8 6 0 260 14
13. Cincinnati Bengals 8 6 0 244 16
14. Minnesota Vikings 8 6 0 239 15
15. Pittsburgh Steelers 7 7 0 218 13
16. Chicago Bears 8 6 0 213 12
17. New Orleans Saints 6 8 0 193 19
18. St. Louis Rams 6 7 1 164 17
19. Miami Dolphins 6 8 0 161 23
20. Tampa Bay Bucs 6 8 0 154 18
21. Carolina Panthers 5 9 0 151 25
22. New York Jets 6 8 0 118 20
23. Cleveland Browns 5 9 0 116 22
24. San Diego Chargers 5 9 0 108 21
25. Tennessee Titans 5 9 0 95 28
26. Buffalo Bills 5 9 0 84 26
27. Arizona Cardinals 5 9 0 82 29
28. Detroit Lions 4 10 0 72 24
29. Philadelphia Eagles 4 10 0 60 27
30. Oakland Raiders 4 10 0 44 30
31. Jacksonville Jags 2 12 0 22 32
32. Kansas City Chiefs 2 12 0 15 30

COMMENTS ABOUT THE VIKINGS (14)

NEW YORK (AP) — Comments on the Minnesota Vikings by the AP Pro32 panel (ranking in parentheses):

Chris Berman (ESPN, 15) — 293 yards for Adrian Peterson to reach Eric Dickerson.

Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 13) — Adrian Peterson makes even elite athletes look overmatched.

Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 15) — All I can say is thank goodness for Adrian Peterson or they'd be in huge trouble.

Bob Glauber (Newsday, 10) — Another in a series of transcendent performances from Adrian Peterson, who is rewriting the rules of medical science. Not even a year removed from knee surgery, and he might set the all-time rushing record. Just an unbelievable comeback.

Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 14) — Adrian Peterson needs to average 147 yards in his last two games to break Eric Dickerson's NFL single-season rushing record. Peterson averaged 129.4 yards through the season's first 14 games.

Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 13) — Seldom have I seen one guy carry a team, but seldom have I seen anyone do what Adrian Peterson is now.

Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 13) — Adrian Peterson is carrying an entire organization on his shoulder pads.

Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 15) — Who would have thought in 2012 a single man could run his team into the playoffs? There's a chance with Adrian Peterson carrying the ball.

John Lynch (Fox Sports, 14) — AP continues to amaze!

Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 11) — Eric Dickerson should be worried.

Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 13) — Is it possible that the Vikings will not make the playoffs but Adrian Peterson will?

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