By SIMMI BUTTAR, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The “Killer B’s” have the Pittsburgh Steelers on top.
The surging Steelers moved up three spots to No. 1 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.
Pittsburgh (11-2) won eight in a row and clinched the AFC North title for the third time in four seasons with a 39-38 win over Baltimore on Sunday night.
Ben Roethlisberger became the only quarterback in NFL history with the third 500-yard game of his career.
Running back Le’Veon Bell had 125 combined yards and a touchdown. And wide receiver Antonio Brown had 11 catches for 213 yards.
“There hasn’t been much talk about Ben Roethlisberger in the MVP race, but there should be,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said. “He’s coming off another monster game with 506 passing yards and two touchdowns in a thrilling win over the Ravens, helping the Steelers to another AFC North title and positioning them for what could be a deep playoff run.”
The Steelers host the New England Patriots (10-3) in a highly anticipated matchup, with the winner likely getting home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
Despite losing quarterback Carson Wentz for the season with a torn ACL, the Philadelphia Eagles inched up a spot to No. 2. The Eagles picked up two first-place votes.
“How far can Nick Foles take the Eagles?” asked Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk. “Not as far as Carson Wentz might have.”
The Patriots dropped two places from the top spot after Monday night’s 27-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins. They received the remaining first-place vote and trail the Eagles by only one point, 363-362.
“Tom Brady was a little off Monday night against Miami, but don’t count him out Sunday against Pittsburgh,” said John Clayton of ESPN 710 Seattle.
The Minnesota Vikings also fell two spots to No. 4 after losing Sunday to the Carolina Panthers. The Vikings will attempt to clinch the NFC North when they host the reeling Cincinnati Bengals.
The Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints remained at Nos. 5 and 6 despite close losses.
And the Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars each moved up a spot, to Nos. 7 and 8, after close wins.
“With a relentless pass rush and Blake Bortles gaining confidence, the Jags have the look of a playoff upstart capable of doing some serious damage,” said Ira Kaufman of SB Nation Radio.
The Panthers (9-4) beat the Vikings 31-24 and are tied with the Saints for first place in the NFC South.
The Atlanta Falcons (8-5) moved up two spots to No. 9 after beating the Saints last Thursday night.
And the Seattle Seahawks dropped three places to No. 10 after losing to the Jaguars. The Seahawks host the Rams in a key NFC West matchup on Sunday.
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