NEW YORK (AP) — Despite winning 10 in a row, the Kansas City Chiefs have been just barely getting by in recent games.
The defending champs have won their past seven games by a combined 25 points going into Week 17, when they could rest several key players against the Los Angeles Chargers.
And the Chiefs’ lead has also narrowed a bit atop the latest AP Pro32 poll.
The Chiefs received 10 of 12 first-place votes for 381 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL.
“The Chiefs’ close call with the Falcons might give other teams hope that they are beatable,” said Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk. “But winning in Kansas City, with or without a full house, is going to be difficult.”
The Green Bay Packers and the Buffalo Bills flipped spots again after routs in prime time. The Packers earned a first-place vote for 368 points and returned to No. 2 in the poll after rolling past the Tennessee Titans 40-14 on Sunday night.
“With a dominant win over Tennessee in the snow, the Packers looked like the best team in the NFC, while Aaron Rodgers strengthened his case to win league MVP,” said Jenny Vrentas of The Monday Morning Quarterback.
The Titans dropped four places to No. 9 after the loss and face the Houston Texans on Sunday with a chance to clinch the AFC South.
The AFC East champion Bills got the remaining first-place vote for 364 points but slipped to No. 3 after dominating the New England Patriots 38-9 on Monday night in Foxborough.
“They won’t have the No. 1 seed, but I’m more bullish on the Bills than the team that does (Kansas City) entering the postseason based upon their December surge and lights-out play of quarterback Josh Allen,” said Alex Marvez of Sirius XM.
The New Orleans Saints remained at No. 4 after their 52-33 rout of Minnesota on Christmas, when Alvin Kamara tied an NFL record from 1929 with six TDs in the game.
The NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks gained a spot to No. 5.
And the AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers continued their up-and-down run as they gained four spots to No. 6. The Steelers, who ended a three-game losing streak on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, have gone from No. 5 to No. 10 to No. 6 in the past three weeks.
“Facing the prospect of a four-game losing streak at exactly the wrong time, Ben Roethlisberger summons a monumental second-half effort in a comeback win over the Colts to give the Steelers the AFC North and, more importantly, some momentum heading into the playoffs,” said Newsday’s Bob Glauber.
The Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both moved up and are tied at No. 7. The Ravens gained two spots after topping the New York Giants for their fourth win a row.
“Ravens suddenly look like a team nobody wants to play,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said.
The playoff-bound Buccaneers climbed four spots after cruising past Detroit on Saturday.
The Colts dropped three spots to No. 10 after blowing a 24-7 lead at Pittsburgh. The Colts (10-5) are now on the outside of the AFC playoff race. They need to beat the Jaguars, who beat Indianapolis in Week 1 for their only win of the season, on Sunday and get a loss from Tennessee, Baltimore, Cleveland or Miami to reach the postseason.
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