The Houston Texans became the fourth team in as many weeks to sit first overall in the rankings. Fresh off an impressive victory at Denver to go 3-0 for the first time, Houston replaced San Francisco as the No. 1 team in voting Tuesday by 12 media members who regularly cover the NFL. Houston earned nine first-place votes and 380 points.
"Decisive win in Denver and big-time performance from Matt Schaub, losing part of his ear in the process," 2002 NFL MVP Rich Gannon of CBS Sports and Sirius XM radio said.
Schaub lost a small portion of his left ear lobe when his helmet cut it on a hard hit.
"I don't think we'll be hearing any more questions about Matt Schaub's toughness after the quarterback played with a severed ear lobe ..." added Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com
San Francisco dropped to a tie for fourth with the New York Giants. Previously, Green Bay and New England also held the top spot, then lost.
The other unbeaten teams, Atlanta and Arizona, were second and sixth, respectively. The Falcons got two first-place votes and 371 points, while the Cardinals had one and 335 points.
"The Falcons are hot, in all three phases," noted former All-Pro safety John Lynch of Fox Sports. "Is anyone playing the QB position better than Matt Ryan? I don't think so."
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune gave the Cardinals the nod.
"It's hard to believe they are the best in football, but they have beaten more good teams and answered more challenges than any other team," Pompei said.
Rounding out the top 10 were third-place Baltimore, seventh-ranked Green Bay, No. 8 New England, No. 9 Seattle and No. 10 Chicago.
Last for the second straight week was Cleveland, which lost at home to Buffalo and is 0-3.
"Hope they're not expecting Ray Lewis to hold a pity party for them Thursday night," quipped Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune.
Of course, the Browns have a bit of an excuse, as Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News pointed out:
"The Browns have the youngest starting lineup in the NFL at an average age of 24.86 years," he said.
The league's other winless team, New Orleans, fell to 27th. The Saints were ranked ninth in the preseason, but have lost twice at home after sweeping their home games last year.
"Now we know the value of a head coach and a quality defense," said Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com and Sirius XM. "This is starting to look like a lost season at 0-3."
Not to everyone. Bob Glauber of Newsday had the Saints 22nd.
"Season's slipping away already," Glauber said. "Not what Drew Brees had in mind as his response to Bountygate fiasco. Still enough talent to get back into it, but time might be running out."
Comments on the Houston Texans by the AP Pro32 panel:
Chris Berman (ESPN, 1) -- From yeah but, to top of the pile.
Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 1) -- It takes more than losing a piece of his ear to deter Matt Schaub, or this team.
Cris Collinsworth (NBC Sports, 1) -- Comment currently unavailable
Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 1) -- Decisive win in Denver and big time performance from Matt Schaub, losing part of his ear in the process.
Bob Glauber (Newsday, 1) -- It's one thing to beat the Dolphins and Jaguars. It's another to beat Denver on the road in convincing fashion. Good work by the NFL's most complete team.
Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 1) -- The Texans are 3-0 and RB Arian Foster is revving up with 100-yard games each of the last two weeks.
Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 1) -- As long as Matt Schaub doesn't lose part of his right arm the Texans will be more than OK; they'll be legitimate Super Bowl candidates.
Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 1) -- It takes a swarming defense to force Peyton Manning into 26 incompletions.
Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 2) -- I could easily make a case for the Texans in the top spot the way they play defense and run the ball.
John Lynch (Fox Sports, 2) -- The Texans are good, really good! They faced their first tough competition and passed with flying colors against an old nemesis in Peyton Manning.
Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 1) -- I don't think we'll be hearing any more questions about Matt Schaub's toughness after the quarterback played with a severed ear lobe suffered during last Sunday's 31-25 road victory over Denver.
Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 3) -- Isn't it time to start calculating the Texans' magic number to clinch the NFC South?