New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks to pass during Sunday’s win over the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y.  AP PHOTOSentinel and
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks to pass during Sunday's win over the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y. AP PHOTO

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NEW YORK - Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are back in a familiar spot at this point of the NFL season - playing their best football and preparing for another run at the Super Bowl.

The surging Patriots gained the top spot in the AP Pro32 poll on Tuesday, receiving nine of 12 first-place votes for 381 points in balloting by media members who regularly cover the NFL.

The Patriots (10-2) have won eight in a row and are closing in on yet another AFC East title.

"The Patriots have come a long way since losing two of their first four games," said Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk. "They look a lot like the 2014 version."

The Minnesota Vikings, who also are 10-2 and on an eight-game winning streak, received two first-place votes and moved up a spot to No. 2.

"It's time to acknowledge that the Vikings are a serious Super Bowl threat behind a fierce defense and a thirdstring quarterback playing at a Pro Bowl level," said Ira Kaufman of SB Nation Radio.

The Philadelphia Eagles (10-2), who saw their ninegame winning streak snapped in a loss in Seattle, received the other first-place vote and dropped two spots to No. 3.

"Showdown with Rams looms," Fox Sports' John Czarnecki said of Sunday's game in Los Angeles between the first-place teams.

The Eagles are staying on the West Coast this week and are setting up camp in Orange County.

The Associated Press Pro32 NFL Power Rankings, as voted by a 12-member panel, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec.


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4, total points based on 32 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 32nd-place vote, and previous ranking:

W L T Pts Pvs

1. New England Patriots (9)10 2 0 381 2

2. Minnesota Vikings (2) 10 2 0 369 3

3. Philadelphia Eagles (1)10 2 0 359 1

4. Pittsburgh Steelers 10 2 0 350 3

5. Los Angeles Rams 9 3 0 334 5

6. New Orleans Saints 9 3 0 328 6

7. Seattle Seahawks 8 4 0 313 9

8. Carolina Panthers 8 4 0 293 7

9. Jacksonville Jaguars 8 4 0 284 10

10. Tennessee Titans 8 4 0 272 11

11. Atlanta Falcons 7 5 0 266 8

12. Baltimore Ravens 7 5 0 255 14

13. Los Angeles Chargers 6 6 0 250 13

14. Kansas City Chiefs 6 6 0 206 15

15. Oakland Raiders 6 6 0 201 19

16. Dallas Cowboys 6 6 0 195 18

16. Detroit Lions 6 6 0 195 12

18. Green Bay Packers 6 6 0 194 21

19. Buffalo Bills 6 6 0 184 16

20. New York Jets 5 7 0 148 24

21. Washington Redskins 5 7 0 143 17

22. Cincinnati Bengals 5 7 0 142 20

23. Arizona Cardinals 5 7 0 123 21

24. Miami Dolphins 5 7 0 114 26

25. Houston Texans 4 8 0 96 23

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4 8 0 86 25

27. San Francisco 49ers 2 10 0 59 31

28. Indianapolis Colts 3 9 0 55 28

29. Chicago Bears 3 9 0 52 29

30. Denver Broncos 3 9 0 49 27

31. New York Giants 2 10 0 28 30

32. Cleveland Browns 0 12 0 12 32

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VOTING PANEL

John Clayton,

John Czarnecki, Fox Sports

Tony Dungy, NBC Sports

Bob Glauber, Newsday

Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News

Ira Kaufman, SB Nation Radio

Pat Kirwan, CBS Sports

Jeff Legwold, ESPN.com

Alex Marvez, The Sporting News

Jim Miller, SiriusXM

Jenny Vrentas, Monday Morning Quarterback

Charean Williams, Pro Football Talk