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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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NFL notes: No. 3 Patriots host No. 1 Broncos on Sunday


Going into Sunday’s highly anticipated matchup against the New England Patriots, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are the unanimous choice as the NFL’s top team.

Denver received all 12 first-place votes Tuesday for the AP Pro32 power rankings, which are decided by a media panel that regularly covers the league.

The Broncos are 6-1 and coming off a 35-21 win over the San Diego Chargers on Thursday.

“The most complete team in the game right now,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said. “Everything’s working on Peyton’s offense, but now the Broncos have the defense to match. Barring a string of key injuries, looks like another run to the Super Bowl.”

Tom Brady threw five touchdown passes and the Patriots (6-2) overwhelmed the Chicago Bears 51-23 on Sunday, helping New England move from No. 8 to No. 3 in the poll.

“The Patriots have won four in a row to seize control of the AFC East,” Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News said.

Sunday’s game will be the 16th time that Manning and Brady will play against each other.

Brady is 10-5 against Manning, but Manning won the most recent matchup in the AFC title game last season.

The Arizona Cardinals, coming off a 24-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, moved from No. 5 to No. 2 in the poll.

The Cardinals (6-1) have a two-game lead in the NFC West entering Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys (6-2), who dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 after Monday’s 20-17 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins.

The Eagles, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks rounded out the top 10.

Bailey retires

Champ Bailey has decided to retire after a 15-year NFL career that included 12 Pro Bowl selections, a record for a cornerback.

Bailey, 36, spent five years with the Washington Redskins and 10 with the Denver Broncos.

Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones delivered the message that Tony Romo could return to the game, but he did not demand the quarterback play after suffering what has been called a bruised back in Monday’s loss to the Redskins.

“I think the ideal situation is to get it communicated as quickly as possible and he felt like he could do it,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “It wasn’t a big deal to me at all.”

The team is waiting on further testing to see if the quarterback will be available Sunday against Arizona.

Bucs make deals

The Buccaneers traded safety Mark Barron to the Rams and reserve linebacker Jonathan Casillas to the Patriots in exchange for draft picks.

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