The San Francisco 49ers gave up ground to the Denver Broncos while holding down the top spot in the AP Pro32 power rankings after the first week of the regular season.
The 49ers earned seven first-place votes and 347 points in Tuesday’s poll after rallying to beat the Green Bay Packers over the weekend. The Broncos earned the other four first-place votes and 344 points after Peyton Manning’s virtuoso seven-touchdown performance sent them past the Baltimore Ravens in a rematch of last year’s dramatic AFC playoff game.
San Francisco had nine first place votes in last week’s balloting of media that regularly cover the league, while the Broncos had two and Seattle had one. One voter was absent this week.
Colin Kaepernick dazzled in the 49ers’ season opener, but it was the play of wide receiver Anquan Boldin that stood out to voters. He had 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown for coach Jim Harbaugh, and surely made Ravens coach John Harbaugh rue the trade that sent him away.
“I hope Jim Harbaugh sends his brother a nice Christmas gift for encouraging him to make the Anquan Boldin trade in the offseason,” wrote Alex Marvez of SiriusXM and FoxSports1.
Kaepernick threw for a career-high 412 yards and three touchdowns.
“Kaepernick to Boldin is something we’ll be hearing about plenty this season. Already 13 times in just the first game,” said Newsday’s Bob Glauber, who also had San Francisco at No. 1.
Voters didn’t forget about Manning’s record-tying seven TD tosses in the regular-season opener against Baltimore on Thursday night, though, even after a full slate of games on Sunday and a doubleheader on Monday night.
“Peyton appears better than ever, and the revamped defense is better than expected,” said Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, who had the Broncos ranked No. 1.
Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News pointed out that “Peyton Manning is on a pace to pass for 112 touchdowns,” while Pat Kirwan of SiriusXM and CBS Sports decided to overlook the Broncos’ suspect running game after Week 1.
“So they didn’t run the ball very well last week,” Kirwin wrote. “Who cares when Manning throws seven touchdown passes?”
Seattle dropped from a tie for second into third place after struggling to a 12-7 win over Carolina. Houston jumped to fourth after erasing a 21-point deficit to beat San Diego 31-28 on Monday night, while New England remained fifth after squeaking past Buffalo.
The Saints were among the biggest movers, jumping from 12th into a tie for sixth with the Packers. The Falcons, Colts and Bears round out the top 10.
“Big jump for win over Falcons in Sean Payton’s return,” ESPN’s Jeff Legwold said of the Saints, “but will have to show a little more on defense moving forward.”
Another big mover was Philadelphia, which piled up points in a hurry in coach Chip Kelly’s debut Monday night. The Eagles took a 26-point lead in the third quarter against Washington on Monday night, and then held on for a 33-27 win over the defending NFC East champs. The Eagles climbed from 26th into a tie with Detroit for 12th, one spot behind Chicago.
The Raiders climbed from the cellar to No. 30 after a 21-17 loss to Indianapolis. They jumped over the Browns and Jaguars, who were last on every ballot after a 28-2 loss to Kansas City.
“How many total points will this team score?” Williams asked. “Not many.”
The next AP Pro32 power rankings will be released Sept. 17.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org