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Patriots climb to top of power rankings

Wed., Sept. 12, 2012, midnight

While Tom Brady cares for his damaged nose, New England Patriots fans can gain comfort from having their team lead the AP Pro32 power rankings.

Thanks to Brady’s impressive work at Tennessee, even with a possible broken nose, the Patriots moved into the top spot of the first regular-season poll released Tuesday. New England’s convincing win and Green Bay’s home loss to San Francisco jumbled the rankings at the top. Further down, Washington, Tampa Bay, Dallas and Denver surged thanks to opening victories.

In voting by 12 media members who regularly cover the NFL, the Patriots received eight top selections to earn 378 points, 10 in front of San Francisco. The 49ers moved from fourth to second and earned one first-place vote.

“Business as usual,” is how ESPN’s Chris Berman explained placing the Patriots on top.

“The Patriots looked just OK in the preseason. Not so fast!” said former All-Pro safety John Lynch, now with Fox Sports. “They whooped up on a good Titans team. Brady and the youth-infused defense looked like a team deserving of the No. 1 ranking.

Only Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune selected the 49ers as the best team, reasoning that their showing at Lambeau Field warranted a jump from No. 4.

“People don’t want to believe this team can be this good with Alex Smith at quarterback,” Pompei said. “Believe it.”

Also getting strong support was Baltimore, third with 357 points and two first-place votes, and Houston with 336 and one.

“Ravens show in no uncertain terms how ready they are to get back to the AFC championship game – and perhaps beyond,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said.

The NFL confirmed that Commissioner Roger Goodell has agreed to meet with four players whose suspensions in connection with the bounty investigation were recently lifted by an appeals panel. Goodell is considering whether to hand down revised suspensions to Saints linebacker Jon Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove. … Former Pro Bowl center Dan Koppen, who spent nine seasons snapping the ball to Tom Brady in New England, will now have the chance to work with Peyton Manning. Koppen signed with the Broncos two weeks after his release from the Patriots, where he played from 2003-11. … Injured Steelers linebacker James Harrison worked out this week and coach Mike Tomlin said there’s a chance the four-time Pro Bowler could play in Sunday’s home opener against the Jets. … The Raiders have finalized a multiyear contract extension with fullback Marcel Reece.

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