Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson dances into the end zone for a touchdown after an interception during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, in Houston. The Texans won 38-14. (AP Photo/Dave Einsel)
NEW YORK — The Houston Texans are on top of the AP Pro32 NFL power rankings again, and getting ready for the Monday night spotlight when they visit the New York Jets.
The Texans became the first team to retain the No. 1 spot after a resounding 38-14 rout of the Tennessee Titans to remain unbeaten in four games.
The other two unbeatens, Atlanta and Arizona, needed game-deciding field goals to stay perfect.
A week after becoming the fourth team in as many weeks to ascend to No. 1, Houston received 11 first-place votes and 382 points Tuesday from the 12-person panel of media members who regularly cover the NFL.
Atlanta remained second with 369 points, and Arizona was fifth with one first-place vote and 342 points.
All eyes will be on the Texans come Monday night, when quarterback Matt Schaub and defensive end J.J. Watt lead them against the Jets in New Jersey. The Jets dropped five places to 23rd after a 34-0 loss at home to San Francisco, which moved up a spot to fourth, just behind Baltimore.
“The Texans are making it look easy right now and have shown themselves to be the most well-rounded team in the NFL,” said John Lynch of Fox Sports, and “J.J. Watt is having an MVP type season.”
ESPN’s Chris Berman chimed in that the Texans have “answered every test with authority.”
The Falcons beat Carolina 30-28 on Matt Bryant’s 40-yard field goal with 5 seconds left.
“Something special happening with the Falcons,” said Rich Gannon of CBS Sports/Sirius XM, “and the players believe it as well.”
The Cardinals rallied against Miami to force overtime on Kevin Kolb’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts with 22 seconds left, then won 24-21 on Jay Feely’s 46-yard field goal 6:31 into OT.
“They have won eight in a row at home,” said the Chicago Tribune’s Dan Pompei, who voted Arizona No. 1 for the second week in a row. “Even if a lot of the wins have been ugly, they still count.”
“If the NFL conducted its coach of the year balloting at the end of September, Ken Whisenhunt would be the slam-dunk choice,” said the Dallas Morning News’ Rick Gosselin of the Cardinals coach.
New England was sixth, followed by Green Bay with Philadelphia up four places to eighth after its 19-17 win over the New York Giants, who tumbled seven spots to 11th.
“The Eagles are the NFL’s shakiest 3-1 team with all three victories coming by a combined total of four points. No matter. They’re still 3-1,” said Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com.
Winless New Orleans was 26th, up a spot after its 28-27 loss to the Packers.
“Not even an impassioned speech from Drew Brees at a midweek team meeting was enough to get the Saints in the win column,” said Bob Glauber of Newsday. “Stunningly, the season’s just about over after a month.”
Winless Cleveland was 32nd and last for the second straight week.
“That’s 13 losses in their last 14 games, and, no, that’s never a good sign for a head coach about to gain a new boss,” said Clark Judge of CBSSports.com.
Follow Richard Rosenblatt on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rosenblattap
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