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2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week Seven

Where do the Texans land after their heartbreaking loss to the Titans?

Syndication: The Tennessean George Walker IV/ Tennessean.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Being on the losing end of one of the most exciting games in recent Texans history isn’t exactly what we were looking for, but if the season has to end this early, might as well go down in flames. Into the crypt we go, forever condemned to the dark corners more commonly occupied by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

However, either or a mild drop or possibly even a rise in the rankings is forecasted since it was none other than the undefeated Titans that Houston challenged and nearly upset on Sunday. It’ll be difficult for those that rank our suffering to be so harsh after nearly defeating one of the best teams in the league. One play away from victory, once again. A wise man once said, most football games boil down to six vital plays that will decide the victor. Six inflection points that will determine where the slope of victory curls. It felt like this game had more like fifteen of those moments, with Tennessee narrowly getting the eight-seven edge.

This game felt like it was ripped right out of a Big 12 showdown. This time around, Kansas State couldn’t hold on and beat Oklahoma. As Terry A. Lambert of Music City Miracles described at the end of his recap:

So the Titans moved to 5-0 in an absolutely insane game of football. The Titans racked up over 600 yards of total offense today, somehow finding a way to win.

What a rogue meteor of a football game. Houston hung on and launched into the lead through such beautiful offensive tapestry weaved by Deshaun Watson that the defense completely forgot how to play football as they watched in awe. This game was going to go to whoever had the ball last, and it was Derrick Henry.

Anyways, that’s enough recap. It’s time to reminisce. Where were was this wild Texans team one year ago? What were the analysts saying back then?

Here’s what Dan Hanzus of NFL.com had to say about us in his week seven of his 2019 NFL Power Rankings:

6. Houston Texans (4-2)

Previous rank:*No. 12*

Nice little Sunday for Deshaun Watson, who went on the road to Arrowhead and outplayed the reigning MVP in a huge AFC win. The 31-24 final doesn’t quite tell the story of the ease with which the Texans pushed around the Chiefs’ struggling defense. Houston, which never punted, would have flirted with a 50-burger if not for some brutal drops (hi, Will Fuller) and multiple missed kicks (one field-goal try, one extra-point attempt) by Ka’imi Fairbairn, who could have a lot of free time on his hands in the very near future. Carlos Hyde (116 yards, one TD on the ground) and Duke Johnson (54 scrimmage yards, one touchdown catch on seven touches) have become a rock-solid 1-2 punch in the backfield, while Houston’s offensive line put its early-season struggles deeper in the rearview after another excellent performance. The Texans are the clear class of the AFC South and should have the inside track alongside the Patriots for a first-round bye. Looks like Bill O’Brien knew what he was doing after all.

Oh, how the times have changed! In only one year, the Texans have gone from an MVP-beating class of the AFC under the lead of Bill O’Brien to 1-5 and deep within the grody AFC South cellar. How coincidental it is that this same week we went toe-to-toe with an AFC powerhouse in an offensive fire show, just to end up (literally) on the wrong side of the coin.

Unfortunately, the nostalgia laden road seen in the rear view mirror has become the best part of these weekly rankings. But, now that the season is certainly over, our positioning on these rankings are mostly meaningless. Like the season itself, they might as well just go up in flames. Here they are:

ESPN:

26. Houston Texans (1-5)

Week 6 ranking: 24

Most impactful injury: CB Gareon Conley

The Texans have been relatively healthy, but they did start the year without Conley, who had ankle surgery during the offseason. Who knows if Conley would have made a huge difference for a secondary allowing an average of 245.5 passing yards per game, but he would have given defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver another option behind Bradley Roby and Vernon Hargreaves. — Sarah Barshop

NFL.COM:

24. Houston Texans (1-5)

Previous rank: No. 24

A painful near-miss for the Texans, who had a chance to get themselves back into the AFC South race but couldn’t close in an overtime loss to the Titans. The defense gave up 601 yards, 264 of those coming from Derrick Henry alone. Interim coach Romeo Crennel caught heat for his decision to go for a 2-point conversion up seven in the final minutes, but Crennel saw the bigger picture. His defense wasn’t going to get a stop on that final drive; going up two scores was the only way to ensure a win. At least Deshaun Watson is looking like a superstar again as he develops chemistry with his new supporting cast. Brandin Cooks stood out, finishing with nine catches and a score on nine targets. Find a way to beat the Packers at home this week, or start planning for 2021.

CBS SPORTS:

28. Texans (1-5)

Previous Rank: 27

The defense is putrid. They can’t stop anybody, which is why it’s going to be a long season. At least Deshaun Watson has come alive in the past two weeks.

PRO FOOTBALL TALK:

29. Texans (No. 26; 1-5): I like the Romeo Crennel decision to go for two up seven, even though it didn’t work.

THE RINGER:

28. Houston Texans (1-5)

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED:

22. Houston Texans (1–5)

Last week: Loss at Tennessee 42–36 OT

Next week: vs. Green Bay

Sunday could have been a statement win for the Texans, and I am very much fine with Romeo Crennel’s decision to go for two to win the game. His team employs noted two-point conversion converter Deshaun Watson, and a decent percentage of the people who are ripping him for the decision would be praising him if the move had worked out. It would have been a great win for a team that could have then waved away the bad start as a result of a brutal opening schedule and an unpopular coach. But crawling out of a 1–5 hole is likely too tall a task. Alas.

BLEACHER REPORT:

27. Houston Texans (1-5)

High: 25

Low: 26

Last Week: 25

Week 6 Result: Lost at Tennessee 42-36 (OT)

Had the Houston Texans been able to hold on to a late lead against the undefeated Tennessee Titans on Sunday, it might have turned their 2020 season around.

Instead, the Texans came up short yet again. Now mired at 1-5, their 2020 season keeps circling the drain.

Largely thanks to 335 passing yards and four scores from quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Texans held a seven-point lead with less than two minutes left. But Houston couldn’t stop the Titans from driving the length of the field, tying the game and then taking the opening kick in overtime and doing so again for the game-winning touchdown.

The game was this year’s Texans in a nutshell: On a day when the offense played well, the defense was a nightmare, allowing 601 total yards and a 200-plus-yard rushing day to Derrick Henry.

The Texans entered this 2020 season with high hopes. But at this point, they likely can’t wait for it to be over.

YAHOO! SPORTS:

24. Houston Texans (1-5, LW: 24)

Will Fuller is having a nice season. He had a strange game with no catches after it seemed he hurt hamstring in Week 2, but 455 yards and four touchdowns in the other five games. Hopefully, he can stay healthy, which has been a recurring problem.

Unfortunately, these rankings are dampened by the harsh reality that the Texans can’t even tank for a high draft pick. As part of the Laremy Tunsil/Kenny Stills trade, Houston gave up both it’s 2020 and 2021 first round picks. Ouch. This year, the Texans have accomplished the extraordinary and found another way to make losing even worse. Burning these power rankings as fodder for the draft now has no use, and we are without a sail in the tumultuous AFC South waters. Either way, here’s my rankings:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: 5)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: 2)
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: 3)
  4. Tennessee Titans (Last Week: 4)
  5. Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: 6)
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 13)
  7. Chicago Bears (Last Week: 10)
  8. Buffalo Bills (Last Week: 7)
  9. Green Bay Packers (Last Week: 1)
  10. Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: 8)
  11. Las Vegas Raiders (Last Week: 12)
  12. New Orleans Saints (Last Week: 14)
  13. Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: 17)
  14. New England Patriots (Last Week: 11)
  15. Cleveland Browns (Last Week: 9)
  16. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: 15)
  17. Carolina Panthers (Last Week: 16)
  18. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 18)
  19. Los Angeles Chargers (Last Week: 20)
  20. San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: 24)
  21. Denver Broncos (Last Week: 27)
  22. Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: 22)
  23. Houston Texans (Last Week: 23)
  24. Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: 25)
  25. Detroit Lions (Last Week: 26)
  26. Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: 21)
  27. Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: 29)
  28. Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: 19)
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: 28)
  30. New York Giants (Last Week: 30)
  31. Washington Football Team (Last Week: 31)
  32. New York Jets (Last Week: 32)

As I stated last week when comparing him to Justin Herbert’s recent success, Deshaun Watson will always give us a chance at victory. Even against a loaded AFC South rival, Deshaun Watson came within a coin flip of pulling victory out of the jaws of defeat. Because of that, I can’t demote the Texans, yet I can’t raise the Titans. I don’t like moving teams that are on their bye week either, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles. The Chargers and Raiders are certain to be much better after a bye week for them to get healthy, but the same could have been said for Green Bay. I continue to be bearish on Seattle, even though I have them ranked in the #2 spot for the second consecutive week. I expect them to drop once they face some real competition because that defense is atrocious. If it weren’t for a few amazing plays, they’d be 3-2. Until then, I can’t deny their success.

Where do you rank all the teams? Do you agree with what the analysts say about the Texans? Write down below in the comments!

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