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The Houston Texans and the NFL Power Rankings: Week 15

Where do the Texans land after their deflating loss to the New York Jets?

NFL: Houston Texans at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

What a complete disaster game for the Houston Texans. On Sunday, the Houston Texans faced off against the spiraling New York Jets and had their doors blown completely off, losing 30-6.

Maybe in an effort to match the gloom of the New York downpour, the Texans were completely helpless all game. Sloppy and severely hampered by the wet field conditions, quarterback C.J. Stroud was literally stuck in the mud on offense, incapable of igniting a spark.

At least the Jets were in similar dire straits, matching Houston’s big goose egg on the scoreboard until they finally broke the seal with three straight touchdown drives in the second half. This coupled with C.J. Stroud’s concussion and Nico Collins’ hamstring injury ensured that the Texans were doomed. Stroud finished just 10/23 with 91 yards and Nico Collins finished with just 1 reception for 13 yards - ironically enough to get him over the 1,000-yard mark of the season.

At least there was something good to come out of this game. But, we’re still going to have to take our lumps with the passing chart:

Eugh.

This was nothing like the Houston Texans we’ve come to know and hold dear this season. Most adjectives used to describe this season have been positive: exciting, hopeful, surprising, thrilling, etc. Now, because of this one game, our vocabulary of emotions must channel back to our feelings of the 2022 Texans season: sloppy, unprepared, humiliating. And to a 4-8 team? They had their big fall to Zach Wilson? Yeah, this is going to sting for a little while.

Every single one of the Houston Texans performances this year so far led me to believe that a game like this could not be possible. Even in the Baltimore Ravens game, the Texans played solid defense to keep the game in check, and hung in there until deep in the second half. This game, though, there was never much hope, and that is going to be reflected in the power rankings. They’ve been a bit bearish to Houston’s success up until this point, and now they’re going to whip out the flamethrower for such a loss.

Here’s where the Houston Texans are ranked following their loss to the New York Jets:

NFL.COM:

12. Houston Texans (7-6) (Last Week: 9)

The Texans started Sunday without WR Tank Dell, TE Dalton Schultz and OT Tytus Howard ... and then left a 30-6 loss to the Jets with injuries to QB C.J. Stroud and WR Nico Collins. It was an all-around awful day for a team that has managed to avoid those most of the season. Houston has lost two of its last three games, making the road to the playoffs that much harder. The fact that Jacksonville and Indy also lost was a saving grace, but the Texans’ injury situation clouds the forecast for this Sunday’s game in Nashville. This was the worst Houston looked offensively all season — or, at the very least, since Week 1. The Texans’ defense has been on its heels at times, but coming off a strong showing against the Broncos in Week 13, that unit should have played better against a Jets offense that hadn’t looked very good over the past few months. Houston has shown ample improvement this season, but the young team could miss the playoffs now.

- Eric Edholm

ESPN:

11. Houston Texans (7-6)

Week 14 ranking: 10

Biggest improvement: Passing offense

In Week 1 against the Ravens, rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud threw for only 242 yards, and the team scored only nine points. Since then, Stroud has caught fire, and entering Week 14, he was the leader in passing yards and the Texans are fourth in passing yards per game (258.2). He has elevated receivers like Nico Collins, who crossed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career, and rookie Tank Dell, who hit 709 yards with seven touchdowns before his season-ending fractured left fibula.

- DJ Bien-Aime

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED:

15. Houston Texans (7–6) (Last Week: 9)

Last week: loss at New York Jets, 30–6

Next week: at Tennessee

I think the Texans just ran into one here. No grand conclusions other than it’s disappointing to see C.J. Stroud in concussion protocol. That backward fall angle is tough to protect against. I would assume Davis Mills can get the job done this week, but we are seeing a Titans defense hanging surprisingly tough at the end of a lost season. DeMeco Ryans isn’t going to just walk into the playoffs in year one.

- Conor Orr

BLEACHER REPORT:

12. Houston Texans (7-6)

Last Week: 9

Week 14 Result: Lost at New York Jets 30-6

The Houston Texans have been one of the surprise success stories of the 2023 season. But if the Texans wind up coming up short of the playoffs, they will likely look back to this Week 14 blowout as the game where things got away from them.

The Texans didn’t just lose to a bad Jets team Sunday—they were pounded. Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud had arguably his worst game as a pro, completing fewer than half his passes for just 91 yards. Injury was added to insult as well—Stroud was placed in the league’s concussion protocol in the fourth quarter after taking a shot from defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.

While talking to reporters after the loss, tight end Brevin Jordan admitted that losing Stroud would be a major blow to Houston’s postseason aspirations.

“He’s really like the light of our team,” Jordan said. “He’s a guy who came in here and brought a lot of moxie, a lot of swag. To see him go down is tough, but it’s football. The next man got to be up and ready to go.”

Houston had just 135 yards of offense, converted just one of 12 third downs and allowed a 300-yard passing game to Zach Wilson.

It was an ugly day all around.

- Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton, Brent Sobleski

Average Ranking: 12.5 (Last Week Average: 9.25)

NFL: DEC 10 Texans at Jets Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I guess we could have seen this coming. Although, it was a bit surprising to me to see three or four publications above only punish Houston a couple positions for this ugly loss. Only Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated really punished them for such a loss, which hurt their average, but hasn’t eliminated them from those elusive playoff spots up in the top 14.

It felt like it was only a matter of time until a game like this, too. Houston’s hot streak couldn’t last forever, and at some point, DeMeco Ryans and C.J. Stroud were going to have to slip up against some opponent. Even though this comes at an poor time as the wildcard race heats up even more - Houston now joining five other AFC teams with a 7-6 record; I would have rather seen it come out now instead of later in the season. If they’re gonna stink it up, might as well get it all out in one game!

However, now begins the slow rebuilding of momentum that will define where the Texans’ season ends. Will C.J. Stroud be able to recover and return back to his MVP-caliber quarterbacking in time for next week’s matchup against the Titans? Will DeMeco Ryans be able to recuperate his defense before another loss? If need be, can Davis Mills keep Houston in the hunt? This year, despite its success, has still been a gauntlet of challenges for this very new roster and coaching staff, and here they are presented with another: survive the big loss and several critical injuries, or lose your spot in the postseason. It was just destined to get harder before the end of the season, and now DeMeco Ryans’ coaching chops will be stressed like they’ve never been before. Thank goodness he’s got Davis Mills, who has totaled 631 yards and five touchdowns against Tennessee in three starts.

What do you think will happen? Where will Houston go from here? Will they regress back towards the middle of the pack, or will DeMeco Ryans lead them on a furious playoff push? Let us know in the comments below!