NEW YORK (AP) — Going into Sunday’s highly anticipated matchup against the New England Patriots, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are the unanimous choice as the NFL’s top team.
Denver received all 12 first-place votes Tuesday for the AP Pro32 power rankings, which are decided by a media panel that regularly covers the league.
The Broncos are 6-1 and coming off a 35-21 win over the San Diego Chargers on Thursday.
“The most complete team in the game right now,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said. “Everything’s working on Peyton’s offense, but now the Broncos have the defense to match. Barring a string of key injuries, looks like another run to the Super Bowl.”
Tom Brady threw five touchdown passes and the Patriots (6-2) overwhelmed the Chicago Bears 51-23 on Sunday, helping New England move from No. 8 to No. 3 in the poll.
“The Patriots have won four in a row to seize control of the AFC East,” Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News said.
Sunday’s game will be the 16th time that Manning and Brady will play against each other.
“Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady never gets old,” Foxsports.com’s Alex Marvez said. “Round 16 comes Sunday in Foxborough.”
Brady is 10-5 against Manning, but Manning won the most recent matchup in the AFC title game last season.
Sunday’s game is the first in NFL history where two starting quarterbacks with at least 150 career regular-season wins each will face off. And Brady will be making his 200th career start.
The Arizona Cardinals, coming a 24-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, moved from No. 5 to No. 2 in the poll.
“That’s no desert mirage Bruce Arians has artfully crafted in Glendale,” Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune said.
The Cardinals (6-1) have a two-game lead in the NFC West entering Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys (6-2), who dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 after Monday’s 20-17 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins’ aggressive defense was effective in slowing down the Cowboys, who had their six-game winning streak snapped.
“Cards D will be blitzing after watching Washington,” said Tony Dungy of NBC Sports.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo left the game with a back injury before returning late in the loss.
“The Cowboys were due for a rough game, but this one could have big implications with Tony Romo’s injury,” ESPN’s Herm Edwards said.
The Eagles dropped from No. 3 to No. 5 after the loss to the Cardinals.
The Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks rounded out the top 10.
The Lions (6-2) overcame a 21-0 halftime deficit before rallying for a 22-21 win over the Falcons at Wembley Stadium in London. They lead the Packers by a game in the NFC North.
“(Matthew) Stafford continues to shine minus Calvin Johnson, (Reggie) Bush,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said.