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2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week Eleven

We now have the same record as the Dallas Cowboys.

NFL: Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was a weird game.

Neither Cleveland nor Houston could get much of anything going on offense during the rain and rushing winds of Sunday’s game. Cleveland scored a long field goal halfway through the first quarter, and that was the only offensive play worth note until the Browns practically put the game away with a touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Deshaun Watson’s magical ability to pull his underperforming surrounding cast towards high-scoring games week after week was practically non existent this week, the high winds making passing offenses rather difficult. Cleveland made a healthy amount of mistakes and confusing plays, electing the pass the ball time and time again when just feeding Nick Chubb was clearly the path to victory. Regardless, they figured out how to do that in the fourth quarter, and Houston hadn’t done enough before then to survive Chubb’s reckoning.

Time to turn the clock back! Where were we back in 2019? What were we doing just a year ago?

Well, not much, actually. This time last year was our bye week, as Houston was preparing for the big showdown the following Sunday against the 7-2 Baltimore Ravens. The mentality was that we may not be much worse than the Ravens since our record had only a one-game difference, and the extra week to prepare might be fortunate...yeah, we’ll get to that game next week. For now, that’s just enjoy the memories of 6-3 and being in the driver’s seat of another AFC South title. Here’s what Dan Hanzus had to say about us last year:

9. Houston Texans (6-3)

Previous rank:*No. 9*

For the second consecutive year, and for the third time in the last four seasons, the Texans have started the season at 6-3. It’s a nice spot to be in, and a big part of Houston’s success can be found in the trenches. The Texans’ offensive line, led by key late-summer acquisition Laremy Tunsil, has done a much better job of protecting Deshaun Watson. And the unit’s opening up holes for a running game that’s been one of the most productive in football. The Carlos Hyde- Duke Johnson tandem has piled up nearly 1,000 yards, averaging 4.9 per carry. The absence of J.J. Watt will likely become more pronounced as the season progresses, but Houston’s front seven did fine work in shutting down Leonard Fournette and Gardner Minshew*in Week 9*. Houston entered Week 10 having allowed the third-fewest rushing yards per game (84.1) in football.

I do miss that rushing attack. Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson proved a deadly combination week after week. The Texans’ defense wasn’t exceptional that year, either, but I couldn’t have imagined the precipitous decline we would suffer in just a single season. It’s like letting D.J. Reader walk in free agency opened up some curse in the middle of our defense that prevented it from ever playing the run well again. It didn’t look completely terrible this week against the Browns, but that likely has more to do with the Browns’ drunken playcalling trying to prove Baker Mayfield can pass the ball while the weather prevented anything of the sort.

Here’s what everyone has to say about the Houston Texans this week:

ESPN:

28. Houston Texans (2-7)

Week 10 ranking: 27

What would they take back: Trading DeAndre Hopkins

This is a no-brainer. Hopkins showed exactly why Houston never should have traded him when he caught a Hail Mary to win the game for the Cardinals on Sunday. Midway through the season, it’s clear the Texans don’t have a playmaker like that on offense for Deshaun Watson to throw to. Not only did Houston lose Hopkins, but it traded for running back David Johnson and his $11 million 2020 salary. In the eight games he has played, Johnson has not been effective, running for 408 yards and three touchdowns on 103 carries. Yes, the Texans had salary-cap concerns and Hopkins wanted a new deal, but there was no immediate need to shed his salary. — Sarah Barshop

NFL.COM:

28. Houston Texans (2-7)

Previous rank: No. 26

At least Texans fans still get to watch Deshaun Watson do magical things every Sunday. Well, except this past Sunday, when driving rain and fierce winds in Cleveland grounded the passing games of both the Texans and Browns in a 10-7 Houston loss. Watson’s streak of six straight games with a 100-plus passer rating came to an end, while Will Fuller’s six-game run with a receiving touchdown also wrapped. At 2-7, the Texans are on pace for their worst finish since they went 4-12 in 2017. So at least Watson will get some top-pedigree help in the draft, right? Wrong. The Dolphins own the Texans’ top two picks next spring. This has been a depressing blurb.

CBS SPORTS:

25. Houston Texans (2-7)

They have two victories, both over Jacksonville. That’s the definition of a bad season. They are done.

PRO FOOTBALL TALK:

28. Texans (No. 28; 2-7): Be careful what you wish for, Jack Easterby.

THE RINGER:

28. Houston Texans (2-7)

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED:

30. Houston Texans (2–7)

Last week: Loss at Browns 10–7

Next week: vs. New England

Even in an impossible situation, Deshaun Watson’s a blast to watch.

BLEACHER REPORT:

26. Houston Texans (2-7)

High: 24

Low: 28

Last Week: 24

Week 10 Result: Lost 10-7 at Cleveland

The Houston Texans are a mess.

The swirling winds in Cleveland didn’t do the Texans any favors Sunday, but the weather isn’t the reason Houston has only two wins on the season, both of which came against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The weather wasn’t the sole reason the Texans managed only seven points against one of the worst scoring defenses in the league. The Texans entered Week 10 with the worst run game in the AFC, averaging just 87.6 yards per game. Houston was able to better that average against the Browns...by about 2.5 yards.

The weather also wasn’t the reason that Houston’s papier-mache run defense got gashed again. The Browns peeled off 231 yards on the ground Sunday, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt topped 100 rushing yards in the game.

“The 2020 season has been a disaster for the Texans, and the only light at the end of the tunnel is a freight train headed their way,” Davenport said. “The final reminder of just how terrible an idea it was to make Bill O’Brien the general manager will be watching their high draft pick in 2021 get used by the Miami Dolphins.”

“At this point, everyone should feel bad for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson,” Sobleski added. “The following may be the most telling stat of this past weekend’s play: No Texans pass-catcher managed more than 41 receiving yards, albeit in inclement weather, against Cleveland. DeAndre Hopkins’ miraculous game-winning touchdown reception against the Buffalo Bills went for 43 yards.”

YAHOO! SPORTS:

29. Houston Texans (2-7, LW: 25)

Jack Easterby is the Texans’ interim general manager. He spent many years as the Patriots as a character coach. Bill Belichick said Easterby did a great job in that role. Should be leading a front office? “Jack’s not a personnel person, no,” Belichick said. The Texans don’t get a lot of mention when we talk about the worst-run teams in the NFL, but that should probably change.

It seems like that loss to the Browns and the Giants victory over the Eagles was enough for the analysts to finally bury the Texans in the dark cellar of the power rankings. We had been hanging around the mid-twenties for a long time; now, we’re the whole way down to 30 on some lists. There was actually a moment in that Cleveland game where the most engaging thing going on was a pigeon on the field. In the game’s Hair Of The Dog (HOTD), there is a significant stretch of time where all of the Battle Red Blog writers participating (including me) theorized the pigeon was some biblical omen that could twist the flow of the game with one flap of its wings. The hope was the pigeon would either fly in the face of Baker Mayfield and force him into an interception or it would use its arcane magic to pull the Texans into the lead.

Yeah, it was one of those games. Here’s where the league stands in my own power rankings. Read it and weep!

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

Last week, I stated my plan not to move teams around very much from week to week since most teams’ fates had been decided. I had a fair amount of confidence in my rankings at that point. The only section of the rankings I believed to be open to much change was the middle, where fringe playoff teams would be clawing for a wild card spot. This week threw a massive wrench in all of that. We had statement wins (Seahawks vs. Rams, Broncos vs. Raiders, Buccaneers vs. Panthers), upsets (Ravens vs. Patriots, Colts vs. Titans), and nail-biters (Jaguars vs. Packers, Vikings vs. Bears), all of which had an impact on the rankings and playoff picture.

The Raiders and Buccaneers had massive divisional wins that proved they were a class above their competition. The Seahawks are in a definitive funk that has now cost them their lead in the NFC West. The Ravens and Titans both showed they have a lot of work to do if they want to make it to the Super Bowl. Then there was the Bills-Cardinals game, an absolutely ridiculous ending that give us Texans fans exactly what we needed: another brutal reminder that DeAndre Hopkins used to be on our team.

It was chaos in the NFL this past week. Pretty much any team that could end up 6-3 after Sunday, regardless if it meant a win or loss, was going to be 6-3. The Dolphins continue to be the story of the season, and the Vikings added another vital win to their comeback story by beating the Bears last night. I was also absolutely prepared to sink the Patriots this week, expecting a dominating Baltimore win. But nope, we all get to suffer a little bit longer. Let me know what you all think of the rankings. There’s certainly a lot of changes from last week!

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