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The Houston Texans and the NFL Power Rankings: Week 10

Where are the Houston Texans ranked after their massive win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Houston Texans Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on cloud nine since Sunday. Why? Why, you ask? Oh, it’s just this guy. Just this guy named C.J. Stroud. Coleridge Bernard Stroud IV, that is. On Sunday, he did this little thing where he OBLITERATED THE MINDS OF FOOTBALL VIEWERS ALL OVER THE WORLD:

C.J. Stroud threw five touchdowns on Sunday. Five touchdowns! This has only been done by five other rookie quarterbacks in all of NFL history, and he hit this mark when he threw a game-winner for the ages to fellow rookie Tank Dell with ten seconds left in the football game. Like, are you kidding me?!

This guy is something else. He’s a rookie, and he passed for a record-breaking 470 yards in a single game. The Houston Texans ran for a paltry 53 yards the entire game, 10 of which coming from Stroud himself, making him basically the entire offense in Houston’s highest scoring game since week 16 of the 2021 season. He made quick decisions, threw beautifully arced passes, evaded pressure to extend plays, made exceedingly few mistakes, didn’t turn the ball over…I mean I could go on and on.

He’s all but locked up offensive rookie of the year, and with a game like Sunday’s, he’s pushed himself straight into MVP conversation. He had the best game of any quarterback in week 9, and it wasn’t particularly close. Do you wanna see the passing chart? You know it’s gonna be good. You know I had to bring out the chart, there’s no way I couldn’t bring out the chart. Just take a look at this:

There are no words. There is nothing that can be uttered or scribed that can do justice to the magnificent performance by C.J. Stroud against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You simply cannot ask more of your top draft pick with sky-high expectations; He has, miraculously, lived up to them just eight games into his career. He’s changed everything about the Houston Texans overnight, and he is the franchise quarterback we’ve been waiting for.

Here’s where everyone has the Houston Texans ranked after their franchise-altering victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:


15. Houston Texans (4-4) (Last Week: 16)

I regret not having the foresight to have claimed Bucs-Texans for our ”What We Learned” assignments, so I missed it live. Watching the TV replay put me all in my feelings. Sunday had to be surreal for Texans fans, seeing C.J. Stroud shatter rookie passing marks, while the beloved Dare Ogunbowale earned his own unique place in history as a kicker. Sure, the Texans tripped over the garden hose at Carolina in Week 8, but this season already has been a massive, revitalizing success. Houston can make a legitimate stab at the postseason, with most remaining games looking like true toss-ups. Whether they get in or not, the Texans are big winners, because they have Stroud, Will Anderson Jr., Tank Dell and other members of a young, emerging nucleus of talent. To think, many thought losing the No. 1 pick in Week 18 last season was disastrous. The Texans are doing just fine for themselves, thank you very much.

- Eric Edholm


17. Houston Texans (4-4)

Week 9 ranking: 23

Non-QB MVP: LT Laremy Tunsil

Tunsil continues to show the world he deserves to be in the conversation for the best left tackle in the NFL. He’s third among tackles in PBWR (94.1%) and is one of the biggest reasons rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has performed so well. Tunsil has anchored the protection around Stroud, who has been sacked only seven times in the past six games.

- DJ Bien-Aime


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

Last week: win vs. Tampa Bay, 39–37
Next week: at Cincinnati (5-3)

Complete thoughts on C.J. Stroud here, but in short, my goodness. I loved that Stroud wasn’t just putting up hollow stats, which we can sometimes see when these rookie passing records are broken. This was a big game, a tight game, a formidable defensive opponent. And, at every opportunity, Stroud totally rose to the occasion. His game was so incredible that it’s easy to forget the Texans were missing a kicker for most of that game. Stroud was called in on hard-to-convert two-point situations to use his body as a runner, all while taking a ton of dropbacks.

- Conor Orr


15. Houston Texans (4-4)

Last Week: 16

Week 9 Result: Won vs. Tampa Bay 39-37

C.J. Stroud had already played the best of any first-year quarterback in 2023. But Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Stroud took things next-level.

In leading the Texans to a last-second win over the reeling Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Stroud threw for a jaw-dropping 470 yards and five touchdowns without an interception. He set a record for passing yards by a rookie, became the sixth player in NFL history to record 450 passing yards and five passing touchdowns with no interceptions and became the first rookie with 400 passing yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Per ESPN’s DJ Bien-Aime, teammate Jalen Pitre was in a joking mood after Stroud’s late-game heroics.

“That’s not even coachable. They said something about he did a veggie meter to check how much veggies are in your bloodstream, and they found all ice,” Pitre said. “He’s like that for real. No vegetables, straight cold-blooded. [He’s] ready for the moment, bro. I was about to put my head down, and I said, ‘No. We still got time.’ And they then start driving. [Stroud threw to] Dalton [Schultz], Noah [Brown], Tank and Tank. And I’m on the sidelines, smiling again.”

The win went a long way toward washing off the stink of last week’s loss to the then-winless Panthers. It got the Texans back to .500.

And it had to make the franchise feel pretty danged good about who it selected second overall in April.

- Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton, Brent Sobleski

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Houston Texans Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Yeah, after a game like that, things have changed for the Houston Texans. C.J. Stroud left the pundits of the power rankings no choice but to send Houston flying up the charts, now squarely in the middle of everyone’s lists. And really, after a quarterback performance like last week, with a stat line that is more reminiscent of a collegiate game, I think these Texans have earned the right to be even higher, on the doorstep of the top ten. C.J. Stroud is not just a great rookie passer, he is already in the elite tier of professional quarterbacks in the country. There are very, very few teams in as fortunate a position as the Houston Texans, and there are very, very many teams wishing they had someone like C.J. Stroud on their roster.

Next week, the red-hot Houston Texans fly up north for the granddaddy of all gut-check games: vs. Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are coming off two defining back-to-back victories against the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers, with their defense perfectly complementing a revitalized Burrow. They are deadly on both sides of the ball, and with linebackers like Germaine Pratt and Logan Wilson, turnovers are likely. C.J. Stroud, coming off one of the best quarterback performances in NFL history, will have to prove it all again as he takes on a Super Bowl caliber defense this Sunday at 12:00PM CST. Normally, this kind of game would be filling me with dread, but after Houston’s performance last weekend, I yearn for any opportunity for Stroud to show off his skills again. He can do anything.