NEW YORK (AP) — The top of the AFC has been ruled by one team so far this season.
In fact, for most of the past two decades. The defending champion New England Patriots haven’t lost since Week 15 of the 2018 season.
But the Baltimore Ravens are starting to stake their claim as a possible contender.
Baltimore is 5-2 after an impressive 30-16 win at the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. The Ravens climbed five spots to No. 5 in the latest AP Pro32 poll as they enter their bye week. The Seahawks dropped five places to No. 9.
“Lamar Jackson just outplayed Russell Wilson on the road, taking a major step forward in the race for league MVP honors,” said Ira Kaufman of Fox 13 in Tampa, Florida.
The top three teams in the poll remained the same. The New England Patriots received all 12 first-place votes for 384 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL. The Patriots improved to 7-0 after routing the New York Jets 33-0 on Monday night.
“There are few things in life (coach) Bill Belichick likes more than beating the Jets,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said.
“And man, did he embarrass the home team in a 33-0 romp at MetLife Stadium. The next morning, Belichick trades for (Falcons) receiver Mohamed Sanu. The rich get richer.”
The New Orleans Saints are No. 2 after moving to 5-0 without Drew Brees when they handled the Chicago Bears.
“Defense, (Teddy) Bridgewater and (Sean) Payton prove they don’t need Brees,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said of the Saints’ backup quarterback and head coach who have helped the team to first place in the NFC South.
And the No. 3 San Francisco 49ers moved to 6-0 on the season after blanking Washington.
The Green Bay Packers moved up a spot to No. 4 after pounding the Oakland Raiders; Aaron Rodgers threw five touchdown passes and ran for another in a 42-24 win.
The Minnesota Vikings, who trail the Packers by a game in the NFC North, moved up two spots to No. 6. The Vikings open Week 8 when they host Washington on Thursday night.
The Kansas City Chiefs gained two spots to No. 7 but will be without Patrick Mahomes for a while after the reigning league MVP injured his right knee in last week’s rout of Denver.
“Rating will go up when Patrick Mahomes returns,” Alex Marvez of Sirius XM said.
The Buffalo Bills slipped a spot to No. 8 after needing a big fourth quarter to top the winless Miami Dolphins.
And the Indianapolis Colts moved up two spots to round out the top 10 after beating the Houston Texans 30-23.