Power rankings are silly. We all know this. Nevertheless, we read them because (1) it’s the offseason and (2) to paraphrase the great Satchel Paige, we like to angry up the blood. To that second point, Peter King is here to help. He released the first half of his offseason NFL power rankings today, and he doesn’t think much of your 2017 Houston Texans.
20. Houston Texans
Additions: First-round quarterback Deshaun Watson enters choppy waters (more about that in a minute), but there’s no doubt he’s the favorite to be the Texans’ quarterback by Thanksgiving, replacing Tom Savage … Third-rounder D’Onta Foreman will be a good changeup back for Lamar Miller.
Subtractions: QB Brock Osweiler, one of the worst free-agent signings ever, was dispatched to Cleveland. Siberia may be next … CB A.J. Bouye, the former undrafted college find, defected to Jacksonville for huge money … NT Vince Wilfork wasn’t retained and is mulling retirement.
Key coaching/front-office moves: Two of them: Bill O’Brien takes over for offensive coordinator George Godsey, who paid with his job for the struggles of Osweiler … And in the front office, vice president of player personnel Brian Gaine left for a parallel job in Buffalo. That’s an odd and disquieting move for the Texans.
Decisive schedule span: Three measuring-stick games, in Weeks 3 through 5: at New England (second straight year, oddly, with Houston at New England in Week 3), Tennessee, Kansas City. The Texans have lost three to New England in the past two years, by 21, 27 and 18. Texans now may be looking up at rising Tennessee in the AFC South; they split seven-point wins last year. And they’re 1-2 against perennial contender K.C. since 2015.
Why I have the Texans 20th: I don’t trust them to have good quarterback play, and I’m skeptical of Bill O’Brien’s long-term future. I trust the defense, obviously. But with a shaky passing game (Tom Savage has huge pressure on him entering the season, obviously), that will exacerbate the worries about the future. Amazing that we’re not even that concerned about the return of J.J. Watt. That’s because the defense proved it could win without Watt. The offense, though, didn’t score 28 points in any of 18 games last year, and how exactly are they significantly improved unless Watson comes on fast? One final thing: When Gaine left for Buffalo last week, I took that as a bad sign for O’Brien’s future. O’Brien liked and respected Gaine. For Gaine to makes a sideways move to the Buffalo Bills may not be a great sign for the long-term prospects of the O’Brien administration.
Most important factor to this team this season: Quarterback, quarterback, quarterback.
Texans prediction of 10 words or less: Though green, Watson starts 10 games. Inaccurate, but dynamic.
King is not the first to interpret Gaine’s departure to Buffalo as an ominous sign about O’Brien staying in Houston. And as much as I’d like to get my back up about King’s pessimism in Houston’s QB play, it’s a fair criticism until further notice. If it puts things in greater perspective, note that King has the Colts and Jaguars behind the Texans. Additionally, the Titans aren’t listed in this first part of King’s power rankings, which means he has Tennessee among the top half of the league and the presumptive favorite in the AFC South.
What thoughts, if any, do you have in response to King slotting the Texans 20th in the NFL at this point of the offseason?
UPDATE: King also has the Titans ranked as the fourth best team in the entire league, so make of his analysis what you will.