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NFL Power Rankings Index: Week 15

Where do the Texans land after their crushing loss to the Cowboys?

NFL: DEC 11 Texans at Cowboys Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In one of the strangest, most exciting games of the regular season, the Houston Texans showed up and nearly upset the juggernaut Dallas Cowboys. In Davis Mills’ return to the starting job, he was surprisingly complemented by a finally effective Jeff Driskel.

What kind of game was this? Against one of the best teams on both sides the ball, the famously hapless Texans transformed into something else entirely for nearly 60 minutes, keeping pace with the Cowboys…until the very end:

After all the quarterbacking, impressive blocking, drive stuffing, Jalen Pitre-ing, the Texans decide to try and salt the game away on a fourth and goal try that immediately falls apart. Instead of taking the points after a great interception by Tremon Smith - his second of the game - Houston wanted to go up by 10 with just 3:25 left…for some reason.

At least we got some good Dameon Pierce runs, before he injured his ankle:

Here’s where everyone is ranking the Houston Texans after that strange, almost beautiful, loss to the Dallas Cowboys:


32. Houston Texans (1-11-1)

Week 14 ranking: 32

Offense: 32

Defense: 23

Special teams: 4

The main reason for the Texans’ poor offensive output is their quarterback play, which is one of the worst in the league. Houston quarterbacks have a passer rating of 75.7, the lowest in the NFL, and have thrown 16 interceptions, the most in the NFL. It’s so bad that the team used a two-quarterback system against the Cowboys to generate a spark. The Texans’ defense is respectable due to its ability to limit passers, having held opposing QBs to under an 80.0 passer rating seven times this year, which is tied for second best in the league. — DJ Bien-Aime


32. Houston Texans (1-11-1)

Previous rank: No. 32

The Texans are still sitting on one win, but they haven’t quit on their coach. Lovie Smith deployed a two-quarterback rotation against the Cowboys and nearly pulled off a huge upset before Houston let the game slip away in the final minutes. Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel each saw extensive action — with Mills in a passing role and Driskel primarily serving as a runner — while the Houston defense forced three turnovers, including two Dak Prescott interceptions. “I liked what happened today,” Smith said. “We used the best options we had. We have to figure out how to finish.”

- Dan Hanzus


32. Texans (1-11-1; No. 32): When you have two quarterbacks, you have the first overall pick in the draft

- Mike Florio


32. Texans (32): An inspired effort at Dallas was significantly fueled by backup WRs Chris Moore and Amari Rodgers, who combined for 14 receptions, 181 yards and a TD for the AFC’s worst offense.

- Nate Davis


32. Houston Texans (1-11-1 | last week: 32)

The Texans played Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel as part of a two-quarterback strategy against the Cowboys on Sunday and were a successful Hail Mary away from winning the game. There’s no bigger evidence for how absurd the 2022 NFL season has been than that.

- Austin Gayle


32. Houston Texans (1-11-1)

Last week: loss at Dallas, 27–23

Next week: vs. Kansas City

The Texans were one Damien Pierce injury away from beating one of the best teams in football. If nothing else, it’s a credit to the players who, amid a lost season, put together more pride than the rest of their franchise can muster.

- Connor Orr


32. Texans (1-11-1)

They made it interesting against Dallas, which shows they haven’t quit. They are headed for the top pick, which is a good thing.

- Pete Prisco


32. Houston Texans (1-11-1)

Last Week: 32

Week 14 Result: Lost at Dallas 27-23

There are no moral victories in the NFL. For the Houston Texans, almost beating the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday counts the same as getting blasted by 40 points.

But while head Lovie Smith expressed frustration with how things turned out while addressing reporters after the game, he also expressed pride with how his team has continued to fight despite loss after loss after loss.

“We just didn’t execute,” Smith said. “We just didn’t execute the way we needed to. Games like that, sometimes you feel like, did we deserve to win? Yeah, I thought we played throughout, all three phases. Where we are in our season, the guys just keep showing up to play that way.”

Things aren’t likely to get any better next week against the Kansas City Chiefs. But as Davenport pointed out, for these Texans that might not be a bad thing.

“Davis Mills isn’t the future under center for the Texans,” he said. “Neither is Kyle Allen. Or Jeff Driskel. The Texans don’t need meaningless wins. They need a legitimate starting quarterback. And if the team wants their pick of attractive litter at the position in the 2022 draft, they need to stay under three wins—you know, just to stay safe.”

- Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton, Brent Sobleski


32. Houston Texans (1-11-1, Last Week: 32)

A win over the Cowboys would have made the Texans’ season a lot brighter. It would have given that team’s fans something to feel good about. Blowing it by screwing up a goal-to-go situation and then giving up a 98-yard touchdown drive to lose in the final minute just makes a miserable season worse. Oh well, at least the Texans are closer to the first overall draft pick.

- Frank Schwab

Houston Texans v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

On Sunday, the Houston Texans get to try and conquer Goliath again when the host the Kansas City Chiefs in Justin Reid’s return to NRG stadium. Normally, I would’ve used this opportunity to state my expectations of Mahomes making the Houston safeties look terrible, but after Jalen Pitre’s play at Dallas, I can’t be so sure! Last year, Davis Mills dramatically improved in the final handful of games played by the 2021 Texans, maybe he can repeat that late-season exceptional play again.