Carolina Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess (17) celebrates his touchdown reception with quarterback Cam Newton (1) in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachm
Jonathan Bachman
December 08, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are rolling along while Tom Brady and the Patriots are surprisingly sliding with four games left in the regular season.

The Panthers moved to 12-0 after rallying past the Saints 41-38 on Sunday and remain on top of the latest AP Pro32 rankings.

The Panthers again received all 12 first-place votes in balloting by 12 media members who regularly cover the league.

The NFC South champions host the reeling Falcons on Sunday.

''The Panthers are the last of the unbeatens at 12-0 in pursuit of the NFL's only perfect team, the 1972 Miami Dolphins (17-0),'' said Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News.

''Don Shula coached those Dolphins. His son Mike is offensive coordinator at Carolina.''

The Patriots dropped three spots to fifth after a 35-28 loss to the Eagles at home. They will look to end their two-game slide when they face the Texans on Sunday night in Houston.

''Injuries continue to take a toll, as the Patriots lose back-to-back games for the first time since 2012 and take a major step back in their bid to earn the top seed in the AFC,'' Newsday's Bob Glauber said.

''Some uncharacteristic mistakes burn New England against the Eagles in a rare home loss.''

The Cardinals (No. 2), the Broncos (No. 3) and the Bengals (No. 4) each moved up one spot on Tuesday.

Arizona gets Week 14 started when it hosts Minnesota on Thursday night.

''This team looks ready for the postseason,'' ESPN's Herm Edwards said of the NFC West leaders who are 10-2 on the season.

Denver, which held San Diego to only three points last week, hosts Oakland as it closes in on another AFC West title. Von Miller led the Broncos defense with two sacks in the 17-3 win.

''Asking one player to block Von Miller is a recipe for disaster,'' said Ira Kaufman of The Tampa Tribune.

The Bengals are coming off a 37-3 rout of the Browns and can clinch the AFC North with a win over the surging Steelers on Sunday. Pittsburgh jumped two spots to No. 8.

''Can make me a believer this week vs. Pittsburgh,'' NBC Sports' Tony Dungy said of the Bengals.

Seattle also moved up a spot to No. 6 after dominating the Vikings, who dropped to No. 10. The Seahawks try to continue their push to the playoffs when they face the Ravens on Sunday.

''Seahawks look scary again,'' Fox Sports' John Czarnecki said.

The Chiefs, who have won six games in a row, are No. 7 in the poll.

The Packers, who remained at No. 9, and Vikings are tied for the top spot in the NFC North. Green Bay needed Aaron Rodgers' desperation pass to stun the Lions 27-23 on Thursday. It hosts the Cowboys, who despite being 4-8, are only a game out of first place in the mediocre NFC East.

''The Packers needed a miracle finish, but that win in Detroit could save their season,'' Edwards said.


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