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2021 NFL Power Rankings - Week Fifteen

Where do the Texans land after their loss to the Seahawks?

NFL: DEC 12 Seahawks at Texans Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s been a season about the little things.

…The uniforms the Texans would wear this time around, how many times we’d see Tyrod Taylor make a wild play out of nothing, a good run from Rex Burkhead…

These little things do not add up to victories, but they pile together to make a nice, tight little package of positive feelings we’ve been able to eek out of a rough season for the Texans.

…Finding out how Lonnie Johnson would be used each Sunday; watching a patchwork offensive line fall apart and put itself back together again over and over; Ka’imi Fairbairn nailing a 61-yard field goal to end the exciting first half against the Seattle Seahawks…

As the season has wound down, this pile of sweets grows in size as cracks of growth begin to emerge out of a very young and inexperienced core. Maybe this Texans team isn’t as hapless as we think they are? Maybe there’s some interesting pieces that could be built upon next season.

…The defense forcing another turnover every now and then; Jonathan Greenard showing echoes of starter ability, and…Davis Mills?

This is one I wasn’t expecting. Davis Mills being a positive that can be tossed with all the other little good things that happened this season was something I was fully convinced wouldn’t happen. I thought Mills had impressive arm strength, awareness, and accuracy in his rather short collegiate career, but I still believed he had at least a full year to go before he could display any sort of NFL-caliber play that had scouts abuzz when he was coming out of high school a five-star prospect.

Instead, despite all the dysfunction surrounding him, Mills has shown genuine growth and improvement during his rookie year. In a rookie quarterback class doesn’t really have a standout player (besides Mac Jones, maybe), being able to nab one in the third round that is arguably playing better than most of his draft-mates is a boon. He even has a worse surrounding cast!

Davis Mills certainly isn’t a world beater, and unless he dramatically improves in these final games of this season and into the offseason, I have no interest in legitimately considering him our starter for the 2022 season (that privilege should go to either Matt Corral or Malik Willis), but he certainly has elevated himself to backup NFL QB potential in just his first year. Not bad!

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s where everyone is rankings the Texans after their loss to the Seahawks:

ESPN:

32. Houston Texans(2-11)

Previous ranking: 32

Offense: 32

Defense: 30

Special teams: 19

The Texans changed quarterbacks — replacing Tyrod Taylor with Davis Mills — but it didn’t do much to help a struggling offense that the FPI says is last in the NFL. Houston’s defense has some playmakers, but it has been gashed all season. The Texans’ special teams unit has been a brighter spot, including kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn making a 61-yard field goal in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks. — Sarah Barshop

NFL.COM:

31. Houston Texans (2-11): Previous rank: No. 32

I’ve had a working theory that the Texans’ plan is to memory hole the entire 2021 season once this whole sordid affair wraps up on Jan. 9. That hypothetical plan hit a minor snag on Sunday, when Ka’imi Fairbairn split the uprights with a 61-yard field goal on the final play of the first half against the Seahawks — the longest field goal in the 20-year history of the Texans. Houston brass can completely reboot the machine if they wish this offseason, but the next Texans media guide will be unable to ignore the ineradicable greatness Fairbairn gave the world on Dec. 12, 2021.

PRO FOOTBALL TALK:

31. Texans (2-11, No. 31): Is there any reason to think things will be better next year?

USA TODAY:

31. Texans (31): Apparently, they’re considering rookie QB Davis Mills, who’s 0-7 this year, as their starter for 2022. Seems like a good plan.

THE RINGER:

30. Houston Texans (2-11)

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED:

31. Houston Texans (2–11)

Last week: Loss vs. Seattle, 33-13

Next week: at Jacksonville

We’re approaching a month since Houston’s stunning win over the first-place Titans. David Culley and Co. have the Jacksonville Jaguars on the schedule this week, though, and can emerge from this season with three more wins than we all believed possible. Culley may not be around to see this rebuild through, but he did a hell of a job trying to put out a wildfire with a Dixie cup full of water. Also worth noting: Davis Mills since Oct. 10 is 141-of-205 (68.8%) for 1,380 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.

CBS SPORTS:

30. Houston Texans (2-11)

Davis Mills actually did some good things against the Seahawks. Now they play the Jaguars in a game that could decide who picks first overall.

BLEACHER REPORT:

31. Houston Texans (2-11)

Last Week: 32

Week 14 Result: Lost vs. Seattle 33-13

The Houston Texans stink.

That the team occupied the bottom spot in these Power Rankings entering Week 14 rather speaks to that. And getting pasted at home by a mediocre (on a good day) Seattle Seahawks team does nothing to alter that perception.

But in the spirit of the power of positive thinking, we’ll point out something good about Houston’s 2021 season.

There’s only four games left in it.

OK, that was mean.

For real, though, Davis Mills actually wasn’t terrible at quarterback for Houston against the Seahawks. Mills has had a rocky rookie season, which tends to happen when you’re thrown to the wolves behind center for a rotten football team. But he played well Sunday, throwing for 331 yards and Houston’s only touchdown.

That performance isn’t going to stop Houston from looking at an elite quarterback prospect with the top-five pick in the 2022 draft the team is barreling toward. Nothing Mills does between now and Week 18 will change that.

But at the very least, Houston appears to have found a quality backup for years to come.

YAHOO! SPORTS:

32. Houston Texans (2-11, Last Week: 32)

Davis Mills played well. Combine his 331-yard game with his fantastic game earlier this season against Bill Belichick and the Patriots, and perhaps over the last four games he can make a case to be the Texans’ 2022 starter

A nice little showering of praise for the rookie starter, it really is the little things that keep us going. Davis Mills has captured my interest, and I will keep a close eye on him for the rest of the season and will be hungry for more once we begin the 2022 preseason. For all we know, this cute little trinket could be a diamond in the rough, waiting to be discovered. But until then, the long winter awaits.

NFL: DEC 12 Seahawks at Texans Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Here’s my personal power rankings entering week fifteen:

  1. Green Bay Packers (10-3) (Last Week: 1)
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3) (Last Week: 4)
  3. Arizona Cardinals (10-3) (Last Week: 2)
  4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4) (Last Week: 5)
  5. New England Patriots (9-4) (Last Week: 3)
  6. Los Angeles Rams (9-4) (Last Week: 7)
  7. Dallas Cowboys (9-4) (Last Week: 6)
  8. Los Angeles Chargers (8-5) (Last Week: 9)
  9. Tennessee Titans (9-4) (Last Week: 11)
  10. Buffalo Bills (7-6) (Last Week: 8)
  11. San Francisco 49ers (7-6) (Last Week: 14)
  12. Indianapolis Colts (7-6) (Last Week: 12)
  13. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) (Last Week: 10)
  14. Cleveland Browns (7-6) (Last Week: 16)
  15. Baltimore Ravens (8-5) (Last Week: 13)
  16. Miami Dolphins (6-7) (Last Week: 15)
  17. Minnesota Vikings (6-7) (Last Week: 21)
  18. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) (Last Week: 19)
  19. Washington Football Team (6-7) (Last Week: 17)
  20. Denver Broncos (7-6) (Last Week: 22)
  21. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1) (Last Week: 20)
  22. New Orleans Saints (6-7) (Last Week: 23)
  23. Las Vegas Raiders (6-7) (Last Week: 18)
  24. Atlanta Falcons (6-7) (Last Week: 24)
  25. Seattle Seahawks (5-8) (Last Week: 26)
  26. Chicago Bears (4-9) (Last Week: 28)
  27. Carolina Panthers (5-8) (Last Week: 27)
  28. New York Giants (4-9) (Last Week: 25)
  29. New York Jets (3-9) (Last Week: 29)
  30. Houston Texans (2-11) (Last Week: 32)
  31. Detroit Lions (1-11-1) (Last Week: 30)
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) (Last Week: 31)

It’s like every team is either 6-7 or 7-6. Both conferences have a wide open race for their wildcard spots, and as awful as the Seahawks have looked the majority of this season, they are still very much in the race for a spot in the postseason.

The Panthers have completely imploded since their hot start to the season. After starting 3-0, I believed in Matt Rhule and the defense to keep the Panthers in playoff position the entire season, regardless of how unstable the quarterback play was. Injury to Christian McCaffrey had a more negative impact on Sam Darnold’s play than expected, and all of the sudden the Panthers began a tailspin during the most difficult stretch of their season. Cam Newton’s flashy return ended up literally just being a flash in the pan, and now the Panthers are in danger of completely sinking with another brutal stretch of games coming up (@Buffalo, Tampa Bay, @ New Orleans, @ Tampa Bay). At this point, it might be better for Matt Rhule to throw in the towel on this season and see if he can find the true next quarterback in Panthers history in the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Chargers appear to be finding their stride again, and even though they still have plenty of kinks to work out, that might not end up mattering with how magnificent Justin Herbert has been this season. He’s now thrown multiple 60+ air-yard touchdowns, both of which being some of the most beautiful throws I’ve ever seen.

He feels impossible. Justin Herbert feels simply too good at everything to be true. He feels like everything we could possibly want in an NFL quarterback, turned up to a little bit too high of an extreme to be considered within the means of reality. He feels like the next generation of NFL quarterbacks, and he could end up being the very best of them all. He was my MVP pick back in August, and he still is as we enter the final month of the season.

Next week, the 2-11 Texans travel to Florida to face the 2-11 Jaguars. It’s a battle of the goofballs, and you know it’ll be all fireworks! We’re gonna win that game and get Urban Meyer fired.

Follow me on Twitter: @FizzyJoe