Bucs, Chiefs start season in top 2 spots in AP Pro32 poll

National Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ryan Succop kicks what proved to be the game-winning field goal against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

NEW YORK (AP) — When it comes to winning, Tom Brady is accustomed to leading the NFL.

After one week of the regular season, Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a familiar spot: on top of the first AP Pro32 poll of 2021.

The defending Super Bowl champs received nine of the 12 first-place votes for 381 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, who were routed by the Bucs in the Super Bowl, earned the remaining three first-place votes for 374 points.

Both the Bucs and Chiefs started defense of their respective conference titles with hard-fought victories. The Buccaneers opened the season with a 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys and the Chiefs rallied in the second half to beat the Cleveland Browns 33-29.

“The Bucs and the Chiefs still look like they are the class of their conferences after one week,” said Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk.

“There were some surprises in Week 1, though, which makes this first poll tough. Are the Packers really that bad? Are the Cardinals that good? Are the Raiders contenders to the Chiefs?”

The Browns start at No. 8 in the poll, the highest spot for any team that opened with a loss.

The Seattle Seahawks are at No. 3 after an impressive win at Indianapolis and will host another AFC South foe as they face Tennessee in their home opener.

The New Orleans Saints, who pulled off one of the bigger surprises in Week 1 with a 38-3 win over the Green Bay Packers, are at No. 4.

“The surprise of the week,” said Sirius XM’s Alex Marvez. “(Quarterback) Jameis Winston and (coach) Sean Payton deserve the credit but don’t forget about assistant GM and college scouting director Jeff Ireland, who helped unearth college free-agent standouts that have become key contributors like tight end Juwan Johnson (two touchdown catches).”

The Los Angeles Rams, another possible Super Bowl contender in the NFC, begin tied at No. 5 after routing the Chicago Bears 34-14.

“(Rams quarterback) Matthew Stafford is living the dream,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said.

“After spending years in NFL purgatory with the Lions, he looked every bit as good as the Rams expected in an opening-night win over the Bears.”

The Pittsburgh Steelers surged past the Buffalo Bills and are tied with the Rams at No. 5. The Bills, the defending AFC East champs, start off at No. 9.

The Arizona Cardinals, who earned a dominating victory over the Titans, are at No. 7.

“Chandler Jones and Kyler Murray were super, but can they maintain it over a 17-game season?” asked Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki.

Jones had five sacks and Murray had four touchdown passes and one rushing TD in a 38-13 rout.

The San Francisco 49ers were the fourth team from the NFC West in the top 10 in the poll.

___

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.