Vikings 10th, among biggest risers in AP poll

Leslie Frazier (Bruce Kluckhohn/US Presswire)

The Vikings made one of the biggest moves in the AP Pro32 rankings from the beginning of the year to the end.

The Broncos' rise to the top of the AP Pro32 NFL power rankings began in the last six weeks of the regular season.

That's when Peyton Manning and the Broncos were building a winning streak that turned into 11 in a row.

Denver easily held the No. 1 spot this week in the final rankings of the season. The Broncos (13-3) received 10 first-place votes and 382 points in balloting by The Associated Press panel of 12 media members who regularly cover the league.

"The Broncos have offense, defense and Peyton Manning. Now, they have home-field advantage, too. That's a combination that's difficult to overcome," said Clark Judge of

New England (12-4) moved up two places to second with one first-place vote and 361 points. It's the same spot the Patriots started the season.

The San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) were third with the other first-place vote and 352 points. The Atlanta Falcons (13-3) finished fourth.

The top four teams all have playoff byes this weekend, and the first 12 teams make up the entire playoff field. The Chicago Bears were the highest-ranked non-playoff team at 13th.

Kansas City (2-14) was 32nd and last.

The Broncos opened the season 10th, when there were still doubts about Manning's health after the quarterback missed all of last season with major neck issues. He was cut by the Colts, signed by the Broncos, started out 2-3 but then didn't lose again. During the streak, Denver made a steady climb up the top 10 and reached No. 1 three weeks ago.

"Peyton Manning makes his pitch for a fifth MVP and Denver is in the driver's seat for the Super Bowl," said Newsday's Bob Glauber. "About as perfect as John Elway could have imagined when he signed Peyton on the dotted line."

Indianapolis fared pretty well, too. The Colts made Andrew Luck the first pick in the draft. He took over for Manning and led his team to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. The Colts opened 32nd in the power rankings and finished ninth - the biggest improvement of any team.

Other playoffs teams that were not rated highly when the season began were Minnesota, Washington and Seattle. The Vikings went from 29th to 10th; the Redskins from 25th to seventh; and the Seahawks from 22nd to fifth.

On the flip side, the defending champion New York Giants, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia failed to live up to expectations. The Giants started third and finished 14th; the Steelers opened seventh and ended up 16th; and the Eagles began eighth and wound up 29th.

"Few expected Andy Reid's last season to be so bad," said Brown.


The Associated Press Pro32 NFL Power Rankings, as voted by a 12-member panel, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 2, total points based on 32 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 32nd-place vote, and previous ranking:
Pl. Team	W	L	T	Pts	Pvs

1. Denver Broncos (10) 13 3 0 382 1
2. New England Pats (1) 12 4 0 361 4
3. San Fran 49ers (1) 11 4 1 352 6
4. Atlanta Falcons 13 3 0 347 2
5. Seattle Seahawks 11 5 0 343 5
6. Green Bay Packers 11 5 0 336 3
7. Washington Redskins 10 6 0 299 9
8. Houston Texans 12 4 0 296 7
9. Indianapolis Colts 11 5 0 280 10
10. Minnesota Vikings 10 6 0 278 12
11. Baltimore Ravens 10 6 0 273 8
12. Cincinnati Bengals 10 6 0 265 11
13. Chicago Bears 10 6 0 240 13
14. New York Giants 9 7 0 230 15
15. Dallas Cowboys 8 8 0 207 14
16. Pittsburgh Steelers 8 8 0 199 17
17. New Orleans Saints 7 9 0 188 16
18. St. Louis Rams 7 8 1 180 18
19. Carolina Panthers 7 9 0 178 20
20. Miami Dolphins 7 9 0 148 19
21. San Diego Chargers 7 9 0 147 21
22. Tampa Bay Bucs 7 9 0 145 22
23. Buffalo Bills 6 10 0 108 25
24. Tennessee Titans 6 10 0 98 26
25. Cleveland Browns 5 11 0 94 23
26. New York Jets 6 10 0 88 24
27. Arizona Cardinals 5 11 0 74 27
28. Detroit Lions 4 12 0 65 28
29. Philadelphia Eagles 4 12 0 53 29
30. Oakland Raiders 4 12 0 45 30
31. Jacksonville Jags 2 14 0 23 31
32. Kansas City Chiefs 2 14 0 14 32


Chris Berman (ESPN, 10) — Congrats to Adrian Peterson on an amazing game and season. Congrats to the Vikings on going from three wins to 10.

Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 9) — The remarkable Adrian Peterson gets another crack at the Packers.

Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 11) — Can Adrian Peterson do it again on a short week against the Packers? Charles Woodson back for GB is huge because he's their best tackler.

Bob Glauber (Newsday, 8) — Adrian Peterson with one of the greatest comebacks ever, and nearly breaks Eric Dickerson's record on the way to clinching a playoff berth for the Vikes. A mind-boggling season after ACL surgery.

Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 12) — Adrian Peterson finished 9 yards short of the NFL single-season rushing record but couldn't have drawn a more favorable opponent in the playoffs than the Packers. He rushed for 210 and 199 yards in his two games against them this season.

Clark Judge (, 9) — Now starring in the Miracle Worker, Part II: Adrian Peterson and Leslie Frazier.

Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 11) — It will be challenging for Christian Ponder to keep his cool at frosty Lambeau.

Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/, 10) — Adrian Peterson ran his team into the playoffs, which many thought couldn't be done. The defense is underrated and rookie kicker Blair Walsh is a great weapon.

John Lynch (Fox Sports, 12) — AP continues to amaze! Can they go into Lambeau and repeat their magical victory from last week?

Alex Marvez (, 9) — Adrian Peterson finished 9 yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, but leading Minnesota into the playoffs is a nice consolation prize.

Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 6) — If Christian Ponder plays like he did Sunday in the playoffs, the Vikings can go all the way. Recommended Stories

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