NEW YORK (AP) — An efficient Alex Smith and a rock-solid defense have the San Francisco 49ers on top of the AP Pro32 power rankings.
Smith threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns and the 49ers shut down the explosive Lions in a 27-19 win over the weekend, giving San Francisco a second win over a playoff team from last season. The 2-0 Niners moved up from second in the latest AP Pro32 regular-season poll released Tuesday, receiving 11 of the 12 first-place votes and 383 points from the media panel who regularly cover the NFL.
Houston advanced two spots to second with one first-place vote and 360 points, eight points ahead of Green Bay, which started the season on top. Atlanta is fourth, followed by Baltimore and Philadelphia, up six places after a second straight one-point win.
"There isn't much not to like about the 49ers," voter Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune said in putting the 49ers first for the second week in a row. "At this point, the only question is who is No. 2?"
That would be the Texans, winners in each of their games by 20 points.
"The Texans have the NFL's top defense and a 2-0 record to show for it," reasoned Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, the only voter with Houston ahead of San Francisco.
Everyone else went with the 49ers, who opened the season with a big win at Green Bay before dominating the Lions at home.
"Almost everyone has holes, but you have to look hard to find any with this team," commented Clark Judge of CBSSports.com "... and, please, could we stop the Alex Smith as 'game manager' talk? It's not only old; it's inaccurate."
New England, meanwhile, fell from the top spot to seventh following a surprising 20-18 loss at home to Arizona.
"Week 2 mulligan," ESPN's Chris Berman called it.
San Diego made the biggest jump, up eight spots to ninth.
"Norv has this team believing," said Rich Gannon of CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio. "More team speed on D doesn't hurt either."
A pair of winless teams took the biggest tumbles — Kansas City dropped 10 spots to No. 31 and New Orleans eight places to 22nd after entering the season ninth.
"Think the Saints don't miss suspended head coach Sean Payton?" asked Newsday's Bob Glauber. "Perhaps an 0-2 start, something they'd avoided since 2007, will convince."
Added Pompei: "We knew they would miss Sean Payton, but they may be the most disappointing team in the NFL."
Denver, which reached sixth last week after Peyton Manning's successful debut in a win over the Steelers, fell back earth with a loss in Atlanta on Monday night. Manning had three interceptions in the first quarter in the 27-21 loss, and his Broncos dropped five spots to 11th.
"Manning will correct the interceptions and the defense has pass rushers," said Pat Kirwan of SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com in ranking Denver fourth this week. "They will be close to impossible to beat at home. Look for more teams to use the 'radar' defense against Manning that the Falcons employed."
Jacksonville is 32nd and last.
"Nine punts, nine first downs — welcome to the NFL's version of the Mendoza Line," quipped Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune.