The Houston Texans are on top of the AP Pro32 poll for the second consecutive week as they prepare for the Monday night spotlight when they visit the Jets at MetLife Stadium – the same place the Niners just handed New York the third-worst home loss in franchise history.
The Texans became the first team to retain the No. 1 spot after a resounding 38-14 rout of the Tennessee Titans to remain unbeaten in four games.
The other two unbeatens, Atlanta and Arizona, needed game-deciding field goals to stay perfect.
A week after becoming the fourth team in as many weeks to ascend to No. 1, Houston received 11 first-place votes and 382 points Tuesday from the 12-person panel of media members who regularly cover the NFL.
Atlanta remained second with 369 points, and Arizona was fifth with one first-place vote and 342 points.
All eyes will be on the Texans come Monday night, when quarterback Matt Schaub and defensive end J.J. Watt lead them against the Jets in New Jersey. The Jets dropped five places to 23rd after their lopsided loss to the 49ers, who moved up a spot to fourth, just behind Baltimore.
''The Texans are making it look easy right now and have shown themselves to be the most well-rounded team in the NFL,'' said John Lynch of Fox Sports, and ''J.J. Watt is having an MVP type season.''
ESPN's Chris Berman chimed in that the Texans have ''answered every test with authority.''
The Falcons beat Carolina 30-28 on Matt Bryant's 40-yard field goal with 5 seconds left.
''Something special happening with the Falcons,'' said Rich Gannon of CBS Sports/Sirius XM, ''and the players believe it as well.''
The Cardinals rallied against Miami to force overtime on Kevin Kolb's 15-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts with 22 seconds left, then won 24-21 on Jay Feely's 46-yard field goal 6:31 into OT.
''They have won eight in a row at home,'' said the Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei, who voted Arizona No. 1 for the second week in a row. ''Even if a lot of the wins have been ugly, they still count.''
''If the NFL conducted its coach of the year balloting at the end of September, Ken Whisenhunt would be the slam-dunk choice,'' said the Dallas Morning News' Rick Gosselin of the Cardinals coach.
New England was sixth, followed by Green Bay with Philadelphia up four places to eighth after its 19-17 win over the New York Giants, who tumbled seven spots to 11th.
''The Eagles are the NFL's shakiest 3-1 team with all three victories coming by a combined total of four points. No matter. They're still 3-1,'' said Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com.
Winless New Orleans was 26th, up a spot after its 28-27 loss to the Packers.
''Not even an impassioned speech from Drew Brees at a midweek team meeting was enough to get the Saints in the win column,'' said Bob Glauber of Newsday. ''Stunningly, the season's just about over after a month.''
Winless Cleveland was 32nd and last for the second straight week.
''That's 13 losses in their last 14 games, and, no, that's never a good sign for a head coach about to gain a new boss,'' said Clark Judge of CBSSports.com.
Here's what the nationwide panel of voters had to say this week about the 49ers, with where each panelist ranked the Niners in parentheses.
Chris Berman (ESPN, 3): Win by shutout in case you really thought the D was in a slump.
Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 2): That was a dominant defensive performance against Jets, and now the 49ers have a three-game homestand.
Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 4): Beat down of the Jets reaffirms that this team is legit and can dominate on the road.
Bob Glauber (Newsday, 3): Jim Harbaugh's decision to stay on East Coast time for the week pays off. After hanging out in Youngstown, Ohio following loss to Vikings, 49ers obliterate the Jets. They did it all, including showing the Jets how the wildcat's supposed to work.
Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 4): The 3-1 49ers play their next three games at home, starting Sunday with Buffalo.
Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 5): I don't care what happened in Minnesota. This is a team that won't go away.
Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 3): See what happens when you get these guys mad?
Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 5): They shut out the Jets on the road and add the dangerous version of wildcat to their bag of tricks.
John Lynch (Fox Sports, 3): After a hiccup in Minnesota, the 49ers took out their frustrations on the lowly Jets.
Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 4): As evidenced by a 34-0 thrashing of the New York Jets, another trip to Youngstown, Ohio between early-season road games for practice and player bonding once again did the 49ers some good.
Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 5): Now they get three straight at home and could be 7-1 at the midway point.
Rout of Jets moves 49ers up in AP rankings
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