Welcome back to another thrilling season of power rankings!
I’ll be your guide through the rankings jungle. As Houston Texans fans, our skins have toughened up to the dense criticisms and scathing remarks sent towards NRG Staidum the past couple of years. See, we’ve gotten used to 30th, 31st, and 32nd place. We’ve heard all of the harsh words fans across the globe hold strictly for Houstonian ears. We’ve adjusted to scrolling to the very bottom of the webpage to see the deflating blurb every football writer has served up for us. We eat trash, we are molded by trash, and now, in 2023, we are ready to climb back up the heap.
Already - before a regular season snap has even been taken - there are already some sports writers ranking Houston above the 30s! We have a few 28s and even a 27 on deck waiting for you today, a hot start to the power rankings season and a sign to the Texans that this offseason makeover has at least a few pundits hyped for the season.
Here’s where everyone has the Houston Texans ranked entering Week 1 of the 2023 NFL Season:
30. Houston Texans
ESPN FPI’s chances to win AFC South: 11%
Chances to make the playoffs: 15%
Projected wins: 6.8
Strength of schedule: Fifth easiest
What do the Texans do the best?
Limit passing offenses. On paper, their secondary could be remarkable if the starting group of cornerbacks, Derek Stingley Jr., Steven Nelson and Tavierre Thomas, pair well with the safety duo of Jalen Pitre and Jimmie Ward in head coach DeMeco Ryans’ scheme. Ryans’ system fits their play style better than under former coach Lovie Smith, and even in that system last season, they had more interceptions (16) than allowed passing touchdowns (15, the league low). — DJ Bien-Aime
What is the Texans’ biggest weakness?
Wide receiver. The receiver room must prove it can elevate rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. Rookie Tank Dell has shown potential with his quickness, Nico Collins flashes dynamic vertical ability and Robert Woods could be a veteran safety blanket for Stroud. However, consistency was an issue across the group during camp. The talent is there, but the group struggled to consistently get open down the field to create explosive plays. — Bien-Aime
Stat to know: When not under pressure last season at Ohio State, Stroud had the second-highest QBR and the sixth-highest TD-INT ratio. His QBR when not pressured was significantly higher (91.7) than when pressured (37.1). And although Houston did add guard Shaq Mason, this offensive line ranked 17th in pass block win rate and 28th in run block win rate last season.
Fantasy sleeper candidate: WR Nico Collins. A late-round option in 10-12 team leagues, Collins should see a boost in target volume and receiving production with rookie quarterback Stroud now the Texans’ starting quarterback. He’s a long (6-foot-4) receiver with matchup ability. — Bowen
Bold prediction for 2023: Will Anderson Jr. will rank in the top 10 in pass rush win rate at edge. He was an elite prospect who blew away my draft projections for prospects, and the Texans gave up a ton to get him. Expect him to produce right away. — Walder
31. Houston Texans
What would represent a successful season for rookie QB C.J. Stroud? Expectations will always be high for the second overall pick in any draft, but perspective is important. Twenty-two rookie QBs have started 12-plus games over the previous decade, and their collective averages are pretty middling: 3,161 passing yards, 60.7 percent completion rate, 17 TDs and 13 INTs in roughly 14 starts. Those numbers feel reasonable for Stroud. The run game will help, some of the young targets have promise and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik is viewed as an up-and-comer. But the offensive line hasn’t lived up to expectations, and Stroud threw cautiously in the preseason (4.5 yards/attempt). He’ll have Dalton Schultz and Robert Woods as security blankets, but this offense has limited firepower.
31. Houston Texans
Model rank: 30 (5.8 wins)
Best-case scenario: DeMeco Ryans, Coach of the Year. In this organization, that still might not be enough for him to keep the job, but it’s something. Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre combine to give Ryans a difference-making secondary, while Will Anderson Jr. looks more than worth the high price the team paid for him. With a top-10 defense, Stroud isn’t asked to do too much, and Dameon Pierce leads the league in rushing. The weakness of the division sends the Texans to the playoffs as 8-9 division champs.
Worst-case scenario: Stroud looks overwhelmed and the Texans finish with the worst record in the league, only to watch as the Cardinals use their pick to draft the next Patrick Mahomes.
Up next: at Baltimore, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
- Bo Wulf
PRO FOOTBALL TALK:
30. Texans: They’re gradually digging their way out of what seemed to be incurable dysfunction.
30. Houston Texans
It’s been a rough few years for the Houston Texans. Over the past three seasons, they have played 50 games—and won 11.
The Texans have again hit the reset button in 2023. There’s a new head coach in DeMeco Ryans. A new starting quarterback in 2023 second overall pick C.J. Stroud.
Ryans is an excellent defensive mind and Stroud is a talented young signal-caller, but Matt Verderame of Sports Illustrated has his doubts about what the team will accomplish this season:
“Some Texans fans may feel this is unfair, but how do you judge a first-time coach and a rookie quarterback? Houston could surprise or be irrelevant by Halloween as Stroud and Ryans attempt to carve out a bright future. Ryans will have to do the work early, though, as Stroud is without any legitimate weapons on the outside.”
Frankly, irrelevance is probably the far more likely outcome. The Texans have a talented young running back in Dameon Pierce, but as Verderame noted, Stroud doesn’t have a lot to work with in terms of passing-game weaponry.
Rookie edge-rusher Will Anderson has star potential, but the Houston defense was 30th in yards allowed and 27th in points allowed last season.
The Texans might be better in 2023, but they have a long way to go before they are good. Or even competitive.
30. Houston Texans
Nick Caserio helps the Texans jump from one spot below this on our list by refusing to say the name “Ben Roethlisberger” publicly. What a badass move. No one talks about your offensive lineman-converted-to-fullback that way. If the Texans put half as much defensiveness and care into C.J. Stroud, we will be talking about this year’s No. 2 draft pick the way we used to talk about some guy who played quarterback for the Steelers. Caserio should start a podcast.
29. Houston Texans
The Texans and the Colts find themselves in nearly the same spot. Both bring in first year head coaches who squared off in the NFC title game (Shane Steichen for the Colts, Demeco Ryans for the Texans), have rookie QBs starting (CJ Stroud for Houston, Anthony Richardson for the Colts) and have the bones to be competitive in a few years. Houston already has a good tackle duo in Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard, and adding Shaq Mason on the interior should help insulate Stroud early. Dameon Pierce is a fun RB who will keep that offense humming, and the team loves Nico Collins, John Metchie and rookie WR Tank Dell. Robert Woods being the OG in the room should be a benefit.
Defensively, they’re very talented. Safety Jalen Pitre is a budding star who should thrive in Ryans’ defense, and pairing him with Jimmie Ward gives them a fun safety duo. Derek Stingley Jr. was lost amongst all the Sauce Gardner hype, but if he stays healthy he should be good. Oh yeah, and the Texans traded up to draft Will Anderson, the best player in the 2023 NFL Draft class. He’s a building block for the Texans’ defense, and has already made plays this preseason. They’re not going to make the playoffs year one, but they should be competitive, with 2024 being the beginning of the run.
PRO FOOTBALL NETWORK:
28) Houston Texans
Only the Jaguars have a win total greater than 7.5 games in the AFC South. The Texans are starting a rookie quarterback behind an offensive line that’s already going through injury turmoil. The offensive weaponry is underwhelming among most units around the league.
Their young defense, with a few veterans sprinkled in, should be fun to keep an eye on, but we shouldn’t expect any significant improvements to their win-loss record in 2023. The Ravens will provide a good barometer for how competitive this roster can be after Week 1.
Last updated August 10:
31. Houston Texans (31)
The Texans eschewed QB last season by just taking another shot with Davis Mills. Now C.J. Stroud brings a stable presence in a 49ers-like spread passing game and the aggressive rebuild carries over from offense to defense under DeMeco Ryans. It just will take time for all the changes to take positive effect.
Not a bad start! The Texans are still occupying the bottom-three spots on most power rankings, but rising up into the twenties before the season has even started is good enough to get me hyped! Hey, these guys write up blurbs for every single team every single week - they gotta know something, right? Right?
Several free agent signings along the defensive line and linebacking corps will go a long way in encouraging outsdiers your run-defense will be improved. Spending money always attracts attention, but Houston also did a good job in loading up on offense during the 2023 NFL Draft. Getting a new starting quarterback, center, and reciever all in the top 100 will tell the country that you mean business about improving the offense, and Tank Dell’s preseason mania probably put Houston further into the good graces of more writers.
This weekend, on Sunday at 12:00 p.m., the Houston Texans will travel up north to face the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in their first matchup of the 2023 season. At long last, the Texans will return to regular season action, revealing to all how new this team really is. Welcome back to the Power Rankings, and welcome back to NFL Football!
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