Unbeaten Steelers still on top of AP Pro32 poll

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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud (14) returns a punt during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

NEW YORK (AP) — After some recent close games, the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t need nine lives to get to 9-0.

The Steelers dominated the Cincinnati Bengals 36-10 on Sunday to remain the league’s only unbeaten team and maintain control of the top spot of the latest AP Pro32 poll.

Pittsburgh received 10 of the 12 first-place votes for 382 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL.

The 9-0 start is the best in franchise history and the Steelers are a strong favorite to stay perfect as they face the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

“Ben Roethlisberger is in the MVP conversation. And were it not for (Washington’s) Alex Smith, he’d be in contention for Comeback Player of the Year honors,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said.

“And the Steelers are in the conversation for teams that have a chance to dethrone the Chiefs in the AFC. Roethlisberger has the Steelers at 9-0 and in firm command of the AFC North with 22 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.”

The Kansas City Chiefs, who are coming off their bye, stayed at No. 2 in the poll. The Chiefs earned the remaining two first-place votes for 374 points. The defending champs will head to Las Vegas to face the Raiders on Sunday night. The Raiders handed the Chiefs their only loss of the season with a 40-32 win in Week 5 at Arrowhead Stadium. The Raiders moved up a spot to round out the top 10 of the poll.

The New Orleans Saints remained at No. 3, but will now have to continue their season without quarterback Drew Brees, who will miss several games after leaving Sunday’s win over San Francisco with multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung.

“It’s the Steelers and Chiefs … and everybody else,” said Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk.

“Every other team has proved to be a pretender. The Saints would be in the conversation if not for the injury to Drew Brees. Who knows what they are now?”

The Green Bay Packers gained two spots to No. 4 after holding off one-win Jacksonville 24-20.

“(Aaron) Rodgers and (wide receiver Davante) Adams are some duo, but the defense looms as Achilles’ heel,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said.

The Packers will stay in the AFC South as they head to Indy to take on the Colts, who are tied with Tennessee for first in the division.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers jumped four places to No. 5 after routing Carolina. The Buccaneers will close out Week 11 as they host the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night. The Rams moved up two spots to No. 8.

“The best team not nearly getting the love it should as a possible Super Bowl contender,” Sirius XM’s Alex Marvez said of the Rams.

The “ Hail Murray ” in Sunday’s 32-30 win by the Arizona Cardinals over the Buffalo Bills made an impact in the top 10 of the Pro32.

The Bills slipped a spot to No. 6 as they enter their bye week and the Cardinals, who are in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC West, climbed four spots to No. 9. The Cardinals will open Week 11 as they head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks.

“The Cardinals conjured up some late-game magic, with Kyler Murray’s ‘Hail Murray’ pass to DeAndre Hopkins pushing his team past the Bills and into first place in the NFC West,” said Jenny Vrentas of The Monday Morning Quarterback.

“Murray’s sophomore surge, with the help of his new top target, Hopkins, has made the Cardinals a contender and added even more excitement to what is arguably the NFL’s most exciting division race.”

The Baltimore Ravens dropped three spots to No. 7 after losing to the New England Patriots 23-17 in a driving rain on Sunday night in Foxborough.

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