Vikings rise to 12th in AP Pro32 rankings

Leslie Frazier (Thomas J. Russo/US Presswire)

The Vikings moved up two spots, to 12th, in the latest AP Pro32 power rankings, and the national media are starting to see more than just Adrian Peterson as assets on the team.

Peyton Manning and his Broncos are closing in on the playoffs as the top team in the AP Pro32 NFL power rankings.

Denver strengthened its grip on the top spot Wednesday following its 10th win in a row, receiving nine first-place votes and 381 points in balloting by The Associated Press panel of 12 media members who regularly cover the league.

The AFC West champion Broncos (12-3) close out the regular season at home against Kansas City (2-13), 32nd and last in the rankings. The final AP Pro32 rankings will be released next Wednesday.

The NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons (13-2) moved up two places to second with one first-place vote and 363 points. Last week, the Broncos were first by three points over San Francisco, which dropped to sixth after being blown out by Seattle.

The Seahawks (one first-place vote) were up two spots to fifth after routing the 49ers 42-13 on Sunday night.

"They have scored 120 points more than their last three opponents and officially have become the team no one wants to play in the postseason," Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune said.

Despite the loss, the 49ers still received a first-place vote.

"Admittedly, a HUGE mulligan," said ESPN's Chris Berman in sticking with the 49ers at No. 1.

Green Bay was up three spots to third after its 55-7 rout of Tennessee, while New England dropped a place to fourth after hanging on for a 23-16 win over No. 31 Jacksonville.

Minnesota, meanwhile, rose to No. 12 this week, and needs a win over Green Bay to earn a playoff spot. The Vikings started the season 29th.

"Adrian Peterson is finally getting a little help from his friends," Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune said.

THE RANKINGS

The Associated Press Pro32 NFL Power Rankings, as voted by a 12-member panel, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec. 26, 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 (9) 12 3 0 381 1
2. Atlanta Falcons (1) 13 2 0 363 4
3. Green Bay Packers 11 4 0 348 6
4. New England Pats 11 4 0 346 3
5. Seattle Seahawks (1) 10 5 0 342 7
6. San Francisco 49ers (1)10 4 1 337 2
7. Houston Texans 12 3 0 314 5
8. Baltimore Ravens 10 5 0 291 9
9. Washington Redskins 9 6 0 286 8
10. Indianapolis Colts 10 5 0 269 11
11. Cincinnati Bengals 9 6 0 266 13
12. Minnesota Vikings 9 6 0 264 14
13. Chicago Bears 9 6 0 240 16
14. Dallas Cowboys 8 7 0 229 12
15. New York Giants 8 7 0 210 9
16. New Orleans Saints 7 8 0 204 17
17. Pittsburgh Steelers 7 8 0 186 15
18. St. Louis Rams 7 7 1 184 18
19. Miami Dolphins 7 8 0 169 19
20. Carolina Panthers 6 9 0 157 21
21. San Diego Chargers 6 9 0 144 24
22. Tampa Bay Bucs 6 9 0 131 20
23. Cleveland Browns 5 10 0 110 23
24. New York Jets 6 9 0 109 22
25. Buffalo Bills 5 10 0 85 26
26. Tennessee Titans 5 10 0 81 25
27. Arizona Cardinals 5 10 0 79 27
28. Detroit Lions 4 11 0 67 28
29. Philadelphia Eagles 4 11 0 62 29
30. Oakland Raiders 4 11 0 43 30
31. Jacksonville Jags 2 13 0 26 31
32. Kansas City Chiefs 2 13 0 13 32

COMMENTS ABOUT THE VIKINGS (12)

Chris Berman (ESPN, 11) — Proof the team can win without 200 yards rushing from Adrian Peterson, like they did in September.

Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 11) — Making the playoffs would help Adrian Peterson's MVP chances.

Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 13) — Never would have thought in August that this team would be in a win and you're in situation in Week 17.

Bob Glauber (Newsday, 9) — Considering the stakes, that win in Houston was the biggest of Leslie Frazier's tenure. Vikes still alive in the wild-card chase.

Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 13) — Adrian Peterson needs 102 yards to become just the sixth back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. The smart money says he gets it.

Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 10) — With all the attention given Adrian Peterson, we've forgotten something: How about some love for Leslie Frazier, a bona fide Coach of the Year candidate?

Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 11) — Adrian Peterson is finally getting a little help from his friends.

Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 12) — Week in and week out it's the Adrian Peterson watch instead of the Viking playoff watch. This team is pretty good and off the radar screen.

Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 12) — A strong defensive effort in last Sunday's 23-6 win at Houston was a reminder that the Vikings are more than a one-man team.

Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 7) — Adrian Peterson is banged up, but 11 men couldn't stop him from playing Sunday. And 11 men won't be able to stop him from playing well, either.

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