ESPN has put out a rather interesting new take on offseason power rankings that orders teams based on their potential for the next three seasons, rather than just their projections for 2016. Here is what they had to say about their criteria for their rankings, as well as how the Texans stacked up against the rest of the league.
We asked our panel of experts -- Louis Riddick, Mike Sando and Field Yates -- to rate each team on a scale of 0-100 in five categories: roster (excluding quarterback), quarterback, draft, front office and coaching.
After averaging the results from the panelists, each of the five categories was weighted to create the overall score -- roster (30 percent), quarterback (20 percent), draft (15 percent), front office (15 percent) and coaching (20 percent). The result is a comprehensive rankings based on how well each team is positioned for the future.
14. HOUSTON TEXANS 2014
Category scores: Roster (75.0), QB (61.7), Draft (76.7), Front Office (62.7), Coaching (73.3)
Overall score: (70.4)
Record: 9-7 (lost in wild-card round)
AFC South future rank: 1st
High point: Part of the confidence for this team to draft well going forward stems from previous selections GM Rick Smith has made, led by defensive lineman J.J. Watt. Landing him at pick No. 11 in 2011 when no one thought he would become the superstar that he is today earns high marks for the front office. The 2016 class features a ton of speedsters that Smith & Co. are banking on to fill holes in the roster. -- Field Yates
Low point: The Texans enter this season with high expectations, and some big reasons why are the offseason moves the front office made. None was more important than the acquisition of QB Brock Osweiler. Opinions are mixed as to whether his $18 million average salary and his $37 million guaranteed are justified, but if he can just give Houston competent QB play and utilize the weapons the team has acquired offensively, the Texans' Super Bowl-caliber defense can take this team far. -- Louis Riddick
What could change: Houston's $37 million commitment to quarterback Osweiler over the next two seasons raises the stakes for Smith and coach Bill O'Brien. The Texans have done a good job surrounding Osweiler with talented skill-position players. They also have the foundation for a strong defense. But if Houston's bet on Osweiler fails to pay off, change could be on the way. -- Mike Sando
It is not far-fetched the place Houston just inside the top half of the league. 14th is a high enough position to suggest a respectable 2016 campaign, but not so high as to set expectations at unreasonable levels. After all, the Texans' offense was almost completely rebuilt in one offseason, and we have yet to see if Romeo Crennel’s defense can maintain their dominance for more than just a nine game stretch. Theoretically this is a roster that should be in contention for a Super Bowl appearance, but until the pads go on in September, this is still all just a theory.
For now, though, I will just relish the fact that the Colts are ranked dead last in the AFC South (25th) behind both the Jaguars (22nd) and Titans (23rd) while the Texans hold pole position in the division by a huge margin. As "uncertain" as Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith’s quarterback situation is compared to the rest of their division, nobody can deny that their overall composition of the roster and the quality of their coaching is among the best in the entire NFL.
The future is set up to be very, very bright in Houston this fall. As long as Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller do exactly what they were brought in to do (i.e., not screw this up), the Texans have the raw potential to dominate their AFC South rivals for years to come. Super Bowl or no Super Bowl, 2016 is going to be a fun season to watch, if only to see this squad get back in the habit of using Andrew Luck and Blake Bortles as their own personal punching bags.