Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry (29) greets fans after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Atlanta. The Chiefs won 29-28. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton
December 07, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) The final month of the NFL's regular season is when the playoff contenders begin to separate themselves from the also-rans.

That was reflected in the AP Pro32 poll released on Tuesday.

The top six spots (Dallas, New England, Oakland, Kansas City, Seattle and Denver) all remained the same from the previous week after each team won.

The Cowboys are No. 1 after receiving 11 first-place votes for 383 points from balloting by media members who regularly cover the NFL.

The Cowboys have won 11 in a row heading into Sunday night's matchup at the NFC East-rival Giants. The Giants handed the Cowboys their only loss of the season in Week 1.

''They have tests the next three weeks, but a victory over the Giants ends all drama for the regular season,'' said Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The Patriots received the other first-place vote and are No. 2 with 369 points.

The Raiders and Chiefs follow at Nos. 3 and 4 respectively. The AFC West rivals will open Week 14 in Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night.

''Thursday night's highly anticipated clash between the Raiders and Chiefs sports an AFL feel,'' said Ira Kaufman of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

''Len Dawson will be in the KC broadcast booth. Where's Daryle Lamonica?''

The first-place Seahawks are No. 5 after routing Carolina 40-7 on Sunday night.

And the Broncos remained at No. 6 after holding off the Jaguars. Denver stays in the mediocre AFC South this week when its faces the Titans.

The first change in the poll was the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions, who moved two spots to No. 7.

The surging Pittsburgh Steelers, who have won three in a row, jumped four places to No. 8.

Atlanta slipped a spot to No. 9 after its 29-28 loss to Kansas City on Eric Berry's 99-yard return of a 2-point conversion.

Baltimore, tied with Pittsburgh for first place in the AFC North, moved up three spots to round out the top 10.

''The AFC North has been having a down year, but suddenly, both the Steelers and the Ravens look like teams who could go on a run if they get into the postseason,'' said Jenny Vrentas of The Monday Morning Quarterback.

The Ravens will wrap up Week 14 by traveling to Foxborough, Massachusetts, to face Tom Brady and Patriots on Monday night.

''The loss of Rob Gronkowski to a season-ending back injury isn't a factor in what turned out to be an easy win over the Rams, but the Patriots have to be concerned once the degree of difficulty goes way up in the playoffs,'' Newsday's Bob Glauber said.

''For now, the main task is trying to secure home-field advantage, no small feat with the Raiders and Chiefs also in play for the No. 1 seed.''


For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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