Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford returned to the top ten in recent AP Pro32 NFL player power rankings for the first time since the season opener against Tampa Bay, earning the nod at number nine after an MVP-worthy 2015 campaign.
Manning is slightly down in the rankings, Stafford soared from No 17 in the second survey a week ago and was barely challenged. While the quarterback ranks were just below the current Super Bowl favorites (32), New England (1), Kansas City (3), and Atlanta (5), new playoffs-bound Houston made the biggest jump, shooting up 18 spots to No 18 after a record-setting comeback against the Rams.
AP Pro32 NFL player power rankings: five things to know before Thursday night | Chris Burke Read more
The Carolina Panthers’ defense continues to rank strong, led by league MVP candidate Luke Kuechly. He moved into 10th in the rankings this week after a rare turnover-free performance in a win over the Patriots.
Baltimore (+4) continued to fill out the top five, with the Cowboys (No. 13) lurking not far behind. Oakland (+14) pulled up from its dismal finish to last season to finish the regular season ranked No 16, while the Cardinals (-16) spent the year sliding in and out of the rankings.
Undrafted rookie wide receiver Mike Williams and the struggling Miami Dolphins remained outside the top 10 for the second week in a row, this time tied at No. 11. New Orleans (No. 2) and Pittsburgh (No. 5) each earned a two-spot increase.
New York Jets linebacker David Harris (No. 1) saw his ranking fall one spot as the Jets (No. 11) dropped into ninth place. The Detroit Lions (No. 17) and Philadelphia Eagles (No. 28) each saw their rankings drop two spots.