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2021 NFL Power Rankings - Week Fourteen

Where do the Texans land after getting shut out by the Colts?

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Under the smooth blanket of darkness accented by the glistening stars, casually spectating the faraway world below them slowly drift to sleep, winter returned. Behind closed eyes and through the screen doors, winter breathed its long sigh as a greeting to those that had forgotten. Awakening with a flash of surprise to how the outside world has changed so much, we fashion ourselves for the cooler season a warm coat not only for our bodies, but for our minds as well.

The winter is sharp, biting, and grating to every soul unprepared for its cloaked entrance. Swirling winds scraping against the windows over stunned trees that at once had sung in summer’s frolic, now just barren tendrils grasping at nothing but the resistance to winter’s punishing motions. Under their hands once laid a beautiful dress of warm, vibrant colors shed as the days got shorter, now invisible under the pale white of new snow.

Bitter, isolating, and prolonged, winter can be a harsh experience for your inner self. It can yank and pull, filling each day with a myriad of annoyances to the point of legitimately affecting your mood and overall happiness. Under the sinking sun the eyes grow wearier and the world appears graver, and all the stars can do is stare into the souls they now see with less frequency.

Under these conditions, the Texans losing in exhausting fashion felt appropriate. This season can be defined as the winter that came too early and lasted too long, some days the sun only peaking over the lid of the horizon with playful indifference to our plight and the stars’ pleading eyes.

But, to many, the winter is not a time to hibernate our emotions and brace for cutting winds, but a time of hardy reflection and inner battles fought and won. Winter challenges us to see the world, and thus ourselves, out of its window, not our own. From this notched angle, some spot the opportunity for growth, creation, and fulfillment. From this new world that winter has thrust upon us, the Colts have reimagined themselves as a punishing, run heavy team that has learned from its mistakes and emerged as a genuine playoff team. Their return to contention is not complete, but they certainly are hitting their stride. The Texans have attempted to use Tyrod Taylor’s return from injury as a mid-season spark in the enveloping darkness, but have instead only found themselves more lost in a cold season that seems to only grow longer.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Here’s where everyone is ranking the Texans after their loss to the Colts:

ESPN:

32. Houston Texans (2-10)

Previous ranking: 31

Player who must step up: QB Tyrod Taylor

Although it’s a small sample size, Taylor got off to a good start before he injured his left hamstring in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns. He has struggled in his return from injured reserve, and he was benched for rookie quarterback Davis Mills in Houston’s Week 13 loss to the Colts. Taylor, who signed a one-year deal with the Texans, is playing for a chance to be on an NFL roster next season, but it remains to be seen if he’ll get the opportunity to prove himself the rest of the way. After a blowout loss to the Colts, Texans coach David Culley wouldn’t commit to Taylor keeping his starting job, saying, “When you don’t score any points in the game, you evaluate everything.” — Sarah Barshop

NFL.COM

32. Houston Texans (2-10)

Previous rank: No. 30

The Texans were shut out for the second time this season, the latest indignity in a season full of them. Tyrod Taylor was sent to the bench during the blowout to Colts, and Ian Rapoport reported Monday the veteran is considered week-to-week with a wrist injury on his non-throwing arm. That opens the door for rookie Davis Mills to return to the lineup in Week 14, and most likely, for the balance of the regular season. Something tells us that the Texans’ Week 1 starter at QB in 2022 isn’t currently on the roster. In fact, we’d be willing to bet that a lot of players who will be starting for the Texans in Week 1 of 2022 aren’t currently under contract with the team.

PRO FOOTBALL TALK:

31. Texans (2-10, No. 30): Even at 2-10, they’re doing better than many thought they would.

USA TODAY:

31. Texans (30): The last time a team suffered two shutouts by 30+ points in the same season was 2002 (Panthers). Until now. In fact, Houston has failed to crack double-digit points in half of its games this season.

THE RINGER:

32. Houston Texans (2-10)

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED:

30. Houston Texans (2–10)

Last week: Loss vs. Indianapolis, 31–0

Next week: vs. Seattle

Shut out this week, fortunate to have not been shut out of the win column this season. That’s the Texans, more or less. They are what we thought they were, which is to say really bad.

CBS SPORTS:

30. Houston Texans (2-10): They are a bad team right now and there doesn’t seem to be anything that can fix it. Tyrod Taylor has been awful.

BLEACHER REPORT:

32. Houston Texans (2-10)

Last Week: 31

Week 13 Result: Lost vs. Indianapolis 31-0

It seems redundant to say about a two-win football team, but the Houston Texans hit rock-bottom in Week 13.

Sunday’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts was about as ugly as defeats get. For the second time in three weeks, the Texans failed to amass even 200 yards of offense. After a miserable 5-of-13 passing effort, Tyrod Taylor was benched in favor of rookie David Mills. He didn’t do any better, completing six of 14 passes for 49 yards.

Overall, the quarterbacks completed 11 of 27 passes for just 57 yards.

Taylor was pulled in part because of a wrist injury, but after his team was embarrassed at home by an AFC South rival, head coach David Culley admitted that Taylor wouldn’t necessarily get his job back next week against the Seattle Seahawks.

“When you don’t score any points during a game, you evaluate everything,” Culley said.

Of course, given how pitiful the team looked in every facet Sunday, who is under center may not make much of a difference.

YAHOO! SPORTS:

32. Houston Texans (2-10, Last Week: 31)

If the Lions and Texans played this week, the Lions would probably win by a touchdown. I don’t know how the Texans got two wins.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Under these stars, the Texans succumbed to the darkness. Exhausted and confused, the sting of decay only burns more as it hardens into an ice sculpture. Through the ice, the winter expresses itself in the distorted translucence it paints onto every perspective. Harsh angles intermingling with swirls of odd colors and biting images you can almost decipher, the ice beckons to any soul a reflection of themselves from eyes cloaked in winter’s shadow. It can be transformative, it can be ruinous, but it will always melt away with the end of the season. The Texans are having a hard winter, just like many of us, but they need not worry, because the stars stare down with their consoling gaze and offer peace in the face of sadness.

Through and around the ice, a tired sun and sleepy streetlights cast a fishing line of light into the soft sea of snow. Gazing at the glistening white as the wind picks up, the sparkles that dot the snow are launched from their pale carpet into the swinging air, accompanying the glistening stars as they descend from the heavens above. In this silent waltz of crystals, the Texans can find peace in nature’s often challenging finale to the year. Within the quiet spinning of those stars that seek rest on the white carpet lies a sacred beauty that speaks in soft tones. Even if our time has not yet come, the winter reminds us that it will always ensure time keeps moving until the flowers may blossom once more.

Here’s my personal power rankings entering week fourteen:

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

We have finally reached the very bottom of my power rankings. After Detroit’s shocking, heart-stopping win against Minnesota and Houston’s complete no show against Indianapolis, I could not justify putting them anywhere else. They are the worst team in football, and there is nowhere to go but up from here. The worst of it is now over.

But, with another week, another Sunday full of upsets came to spark us joy. Miami and Washington just keep on winning, with Washington finally completing their journey back to .500. Miami will have the opportunity to do the same next week when they face the Jets.

Speaking of the Jets, Gardner Minshew got his first win in over a year against them on Sunday, showing that the Eagles are still very much in the race for a wildcard berth even when their dynamic starter is out. The Jaguars dumping Minshew for just a sixth-round pick is still one of the most head scratching moves in recent history, and it looks like Minshew is all the happier because of it.

Minnesota continues to get in their own way, climbing up the summit of peculiarity with an absolutely magnificent loss to the no longer winless Detroit Lions. With that loss and the 49ers loss to the Seahawks, the door remains wide open for nearly any team in the NFC to get a wildcard spot.

The big game this week, however, was in the Queen City. Two exciting and unpredictable playoff teams, the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Chargers, met on Sunday in the first matchup between Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. The Bengals, riding high off of two massive wins against the Steelers and Raiders, sought to establish themselves as the class of the conference on Sunday, while the Chargers aimed to bounce back to their Super Bowl contending ways after an embarrassing loss to the Broncos last week. There was a lot riding on both sides in this game, and, miraculously, the Chargers rose to the challenge. The Chargers kept the deadly Bengals offense at bay for the entire game, and Justin Herbert carved up the Bengals backfield with some of the most beautiful throws I have ever seen on a football field. Both of these teams have plenty of kinks to work out before we can be confident in any sort of Super Bowl run, but both have shown that when they’re firing on all cylinders, they’re nearly unbeatable.

Next week, the Texans will host the Seattle Seahawks, a team that reminds us how easy it is to let a season go completely off the rails. While they are coming off a win and are still technically in the playoff hunt, the Seahawks are another team that will use the winter as an opportunity to enjoy the magic outside their bedroom window, and prepare for the work of rebuilding once the green of the earth has returned.

Follow me on Twitter: @FizzyJoe

NFL: DEC 05 Colts at Texans Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images