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The Houston Texans and the NFL Power Rankings: Week 11

Where do the Houston Texans land after their defining victory against the Cincinnati Bengals?

Houston Texans v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

You know, I keep writing this bite-sized recaps of the previous Houston Texans game in these power rankings, fawning over what has clearly become the hottest team in the NFL, and I have to keeping upping the ante because they just keep winning! And on Sunday, they didn’t just beat any team…

They beat the Cincinnati Bengals!

The Houston Texans just beat the Cincinnati Bengals. The Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd Bengals. The Germain Pratt, Logan Wilson, Trey Hendrickson Bengals. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud even had three turnovers - the most he’s had in a game thus far - and they still beat the Bengals!

This is pandemonium. I mean, this is crazy. How do you describe a win like this? This brand new, practically fresh out of the box Texans team has hit the ground running at a frankly alarming pace, and with the Arizona Cardinals coming up next week, I don’t see the pace slowing down anytime soon.

This game had a few of the calling cards we’ve gotten used to in Texans victories, such as interceptions, good tackling, and another banner game for C.J. Stroud. But, besides that, there was nothing normal about this win. This was a weird game, in the best way possible. For example, who would’ve seen defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins having a career game? He tallied three of the team’s four total sacks, got seven total pressures, and forced a fumble!

You know what else was weird? Devin Singletary. Devin Singletary is really weird, because he somehow ran for 150 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.0 yards per attempt. This team was 29th in rushing yards before Sunday and have been relying on right tackle Tytus Howard to be a guard and fourth-string center Michael Deiter to complete their offensive line. Apparently this is exactly what Devin Singletary needed, as he controlled the pace of the entire game and earned his entire one-year, $3.75 million contract in just one performance. Houston already had a great passing game, but if they can get this run game going consistently, they could be unstoppable!

Oh, and how could I forget wide receiver Noah Brown! You know Noah Brown! He was a backup receiver for the Dallas Cowboys the past few years…didn’t do too much during his six-year tenure there…until last year where he was an decent receiver that quickly became infamous because of his drops. You know, that guy? Well, that guy just had SEVEN CATCHES FOR 172 YARDS!!!

Where do you even start with this? I guess Noah Brown can just turn into Davante Adams at the drop of a hat when C.J. Stroud is throwing him the ball, because that makes sense. Yeah, it wasn’t Nico Collins or Tank Dell tearing up the Bengals defense - a good defense, mind you - it was Noah Brown. He’s now joined DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson as the only Texans receivers to have 150+ receiving yards in consecutive games, an absolutely unreal string of words I just typed out exactly eight months after Brown signed a one-year, $2.6 million contract with the Texans.

I didn’t even talk about C.J. Stroud yet, and it’s because I don’t have to. You know exactly what he did, because it’s exactly what he’s been doing all season long. C.J. Stroud, the Houston Texans’ rookie quarterback, is in the MVP conversation. That’s all that needs to be said.

Here’s where the Houston Texans are ranked after their victory against the Cincinnati Bengals:


10. Houston Texans (5-4) (Last Week: 15)

That was nothing short of an incredible showing from the Texans’ offense and QB C.J. Stroud, who not only is the massive Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite but perhaps has thrown his hat into the MVP ring. Stroud once again showed rare rookie poise and tremendous ball placement. Fellow rookie Tank Dell has become a real weapon. And veteran Noah Brown suddenly has back-to-back 150-yard receiving games. But we need to talk about the run game, which produced in a way we’ve not otherwise seen this season. New feature back Devin Singletary isn’t a game breaker, but he kept churning away in a 30-carry, 150-yard performance that allowed Houston to control the ball for 17 of the 30 second-half minutes. Credit, too, to the Texans’ offensive line for keeping Stroud clean and consistently opening holes against a dangerous Bengals front.

- Eric Edholm


13. Houston Texans (5-4)

Week 10 ranking: 17

Biggest remaining game: Week 12 vs. Jacksonville

This game is pivotal for many reasons. The Texans already convincingly beat the Jaguars in Week 3, and trail the Jaguars by one game in the AFC South. If the Texans sweep the Jaguars, they’ll own the tiebreaker if the teams finish with the same record at the end of the season. And historically, the Texans have had the Jaguars’ number since 2014, as they’ve won 16 out of the past 19 games against their division foe.

- DJ Bien-Aime


15. Houston Texans (5-4) (Last Week:18)

Last week: win at Cincinnati, 30–27

Next week: vs. Arizona

My full thoughts on C.J. Stroud are here. I think we need to be better at arguing for nontraditional MVPs. Situationally, the Texans as an organization have been completely transformed and buoyed by the play of Stroud. If he is terrible, there is little hope. If there is little hope, it’s difficult for DeMeco Ryans to coach. If it’s difficult for DeMeco Ryans to coach, the team continues to spiral into what had been their reality, which is that they have fired back-to back coaches after one season and, before the start of the 2023 campaign, appeared much further away from the ’19 team that nearly made the Super Bowl than closer to a fix. That’s a lot of good done by one person!

- Conor Orr


13. Houston Texans (5-4)

Last Week: 15

Week 10 Result: Won at Cincinnati 30-27

The Offensive Rookie of the Year race is over. Finished. You might as well just start engraving C.J. Stroud’s name on the trophy.

For the second week in a row, Stroud led the Texans on a game-winning drive with less than two minutes to go in the game—this time on the road against a Cincinnati Bengals team regarded by some as a Super Bowl contender.

In the game, Stroud threw for more yards (356) than Joe Burrow (347). After the win, Stroud sounded more like a multiple-time Pro Bowler than a first-year player making his ninth start.

“[The Bengals] knew it would come down to the wire. We knew that, too,” Stroud told reporters. “I just went to DeMeco (Ryans) and let him know, ‘Man, I got you. We’re going to win this game.’ He looked me right in the eye and said, ‘I’ll trust you.’ I took a lot of big hits this game, but my O-line, they fought their tails off. I think that’s where we won the game, our O-line.”

“If winning a division is all about quarterback play, the Texans are well on their way to claiming the AFC South,” Sobleski said. “While the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence hasn’t taken the step into elite status that many expected, Jacksonville still sits atop the division. But four turnovers by Lawrence in the team’s last two games won’t cut it. Furthermore, the Jaguars face a brutal stretch of games over the next five weeks. Meanwhile, C.J. Stroud is getting better every week, elevating his team and entering the MVP conversation with every big-time performance he provides.”

- Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton, Brent Sobleski

Houston Texans v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

They’re in the top 10!!! They’re in the top 10!!! They’re in the top 10!!! I don’t care that’s it’s only Eric Edholm that put the Texans there, because they deserve to be in the top 10!

Can you believe it? Entering the second half of the season, the Texans have climbed up from the bottom of the barrel the whole way to the elite tier of NFL teams! With nearly every starter on offense and defense in either their first or second year in Houston, including the coaching staff, the Texans have assembled into one of the fiercest teams in the entire league. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, wants to play the Houston Texans right now.

Next week, these miraculous, incomparable Texans will host Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals at a rocking NRG Stadium. C.J. Stroud and Co. will seek to make it three wins in a row, further separating themselves from the AFC wildcard competition. After last Sunday’s game, it’s C.J. Stroud mania, and he’ll have another tough QB matchup to get through before he proves the doubters wrong yet again. But, at this point, I know better than to ever bet against C.J. Stroud.