The Houston Texans may not have played a game this past week, but they certainly improved their standing during the bye week. The roster continues to get healthier, with rookie wide receiver Tank Dell, rookie center Juice Scruggs, tackle Charlie Heck, and defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway expected to return to the active roster this week:
Scruggs and Heck will be making their regular season debuts, giving the offensive line plenty of new lineup options and depth. Even with the line playing far, far better than I would have expected, getting Scruggs and Heck back should stand to ease the load on players like Tytus Howard and Shaq Mason. Former third overall pick Derek Stingley Jr. is also close to returning to the field, but is not expected to be healthy until Week 9.
On top of that, Week 7 cranked out a hefty pile of upsets! The Buffalo Bills somehow lost to the New England Patriots, the Detroit Lions got blown out by the Baltimore Ravens, the Miami Dolphins laid witness the power of Jalen Hurts, and the mighty San Francisco 49ers were handed their first losing streak in literally a year (Week 6 and 7, 2022) by the Minnesota Vikings, who are slowly eking their way back into playoff contention as midseason approaches.
All four teams that lost were in the top ten of the vast majority of professional football writers. So, movements there will mean Houston will have a chance to climb up the ranks again, surging ever higher into the hype stratosphere. Here’s where the Houston Texans are ranked in Week 8 of the 2023 NFL Season:
15. Houston Texans (3-3) (Last Week: 16)
C.J. Stroud is fourth in passing yards per game, and I really don’t care that much about it. What has made Stroud so impressive are not his fairly gaudy statistics, even if we should mention he’s on pace for 4,700 yards, 25 TDs and three picks. To me, Stroud’s poise and smarts have taken center stage. He’s kept the ball out of harm’s way (one INT, three fumbles). He’s cut down on sacks dramatically (11 in Weeks 1-2, two in four games since). And Stroud has been really good in fourth quarters (a 114.7 QB rating). And with Stroud, Will Anderson Jr., Tank Dell, Henry To’oTo’o and others giving Houston its best rookie class in recent memory, there’s a lot for Texans fans to be excited about.
- Eric Edholm
17. Houston Texans (3-3)
Week 7 ranking: 17
Young riser: WR Nico Collins
Collins, 24, is having a breakout season in Year 3. He ranks 10th in the NFL in receiving yards (547) and is one of the biggest reasons rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud is having a standout rookie season. Collins has been a reliable go-to option for the Texans through the air so far. — DJ Bien-Aime
- DJ Bien-Aime
16. Houston Texans (3–3) (Last Week: 17)
Last week: BYE
Next week: at Carolina
Three of the next four opponents for Houston: Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, up next, the Carolina Panthers. The Texans are coming out of the bye at .500, CJ Stroud is one of the most turnover-averse quarterbacks in the NFL and, I would argue, he still hasn’t hit that rookie in-season boost where the game starts to make more sense. He’s definitely better than a 59.6% passer. The ceiling for this offense in 2023 alone is quite high.
- Conor Orr
13. Houston Texans (3-3)
Last Week: 16
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
Last year, it took the Houston Texans 18 weeks to win three games. This season, they have done so in six—and while there are multiple reasons for that success, the biggest has been the play of quarterback C.J. Stroud.
The rookie has been everything the Texans hoped they were getting when they drafted him second overall.
The Ohio State product has completed just under 60 percent of his passes for 1,660 yards and nine scores. He set an NFL record for the most pass attempts to start a career without an interception.
And as veteran defensive end Jerry Hughes told ESPN’s DJ Bien-Aime, Stroud has also already won over the Houston locker room.
“It’s a quarterback-driven league,” Hughes said. “Once you got that guy behind the center like we have in [No. 7]—someone who can command the offense, calm under pressure and knows how to execute and not turn the ball over—when it’s time to score, he’s dropping dimes to [wide receiver] Nico [Collins] to close the door—like against Pittsburgh. Once you got a quarterback, that makes everything a lot easier. And I think with [No. 7] spinning that ball, we’re gonna be good.”
The Texans may not be a playoff team, at least not yet. But there’s no denying they are substantially better than just about anyone expected in 2023.
- Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton, Brent Sobleski
The Texans just continue to go up! Bleacher Report has them knocking on the door of the top ten, and the average placement of Texans within these four rankings is 15.25! More than halfway up the ladder! C.J. Stroud and this 2023 rookie class have launched the Texans into the upper tier of the league, and they’re only scratching the surface of their potential. Can you imagine this offense with Ohio State receiver Emeka Egbuka or Florida State receiver Keon Coleman added to it? Or Georgia tight end Brock Bowers? Can you imagine this defense with another big pass rusher, like Florida State end Jared Verse? Or another interior lineman like Illinois defensive tackle Johnny Newton? Much like the 2020 Cincinnati Bengals, this Houston Texans team is only a few players away from genuine Super Bowl contention, a testament to the ability of C.J. Stroud and just how exceptional this 2023 rookie class has been thus far. If Houston can go from one of the worst teams in football to one of the very best in just two years, it would be one of the best Cinderella stories ever told west of the Mississippi.
Next up, the Houston Texans will travel to Charlotte to face the 0-6 Carolina Panthers. Even though they’re 0-6, Carolina has been a harder out for opposing teams as they sink further into desperation, and their new head coach, Frank Reich, has plenty of experience beating Houston from his time with the Indianapolis Colts. Even though this looks like a layup, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be one of the major traps this young Texans roster may fall into in their first year together. But, with Tank Dell potentially back, even a great performance from first overall pick Bryce Young might not be enough to keep up with Houston. We’ll see on Sunday at 12:00PM CST!