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AP Power Rankings: Pats stay No. 1 going into season finale


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NEW YORK (AP) — Going into the last week of the regular season, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are trying to wrap up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

The Patriots (13-2) have won six games in a row going into the regular-season finale at Miami and will be a strong favorite to reach the Super Bowl.

The Patriots are also the overwhelming choice for the top spot in the AP Pro32 poll released on Tuesday.

New England received 11 first-place votes for 383 points from balloting by media members who regularly cover the NFL.

"Malcolm Butler and LeGarrette Blount were overlooked for the Pro Bowl, but they'll be content with the more important bowl: the Super Bowl," Newsday's Bob Glauber said.

"Butler's two interceptions and a fumble recovery and Blount's two rushing TDs key the Patriots' embarrassment of the Jets in moving New England one step closer to Houston in February."

The Cowboys (13-2) received the other first-place vote to remain No. 2 with 373 points.

"But who is MVP? Dak (Prescott) or Zeke (Ezekiel Elliott)?" asked John Fox Sports' Czarnecki about Dallas' star rookies.

Despite being in second place in the AFC West, the Chiefs (11-4) switched spots with the Raiders and moved up to No. 3.

The Raiders (12-3) slipped to No. 4 and will enter the playoffs without quarterback Derek Carr, who broke his right leg in Saturday's win over Indianapolis.

NFC South champion Atlanta (10-5) jumped three spots to No. 5. The Falcons can clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Saints.

AFC North champion Pittsburgh (10-5) inched up to No. 6 in the poll. The surging Steelers, who have won six in a row, are the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs.

"Terry Bradshaw's disrespect toward (coach) Mike Tomlin could be a rallying cry for a proud franchise that looks dangerous entering the postseason," said Ira Kaufman of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Giants slipped two spots to No. 7 after their loss to the Eagles. The clinched a wild-card spot and will be the No. 5 seed in the playoffs.

Green Bay (9-6) moved up two spots to No. 8. The Packers face the Lions on Sunday night for the NFC North title.

Seattle dropped three spots to No. 9 after its 34-31 loss to Arizona.

Miami rounded out the top 10 after its 34-31 overtime win over Buffalo, which fired Rex Ryan as coach on Tuesday.

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For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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