Houston Texans Are Now a Dark-Horse Power in AFC: Ultimate NFL Power Rankings Week 9

Winners of five straight, Houston added WR Demaryius Thomas to their offense.

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 25: Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) gets the crowd going during the football game between the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans on October 25, 2018 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 25: Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) gets the crowd going during the football game between the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans on October 25, 2018 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL season did not start well for the Houston Texans.

The team dropped their first three games of the season to the Patriots, Titans, and Giants, struggling to move the ball and failing to score more than 22 points in any of those contests.

Star quarterback Deshaun Watson looked out of sorts coming off a torn ACL that ended his season a year ago and Houston’s defense, while solid, failed to get the stops it needed.

But then their season really began. Watson and the offense kicked into gear in Week 4 during a 37-34 win over the Colts. Then it was the defense’s turn to roar back to life in Weeks 5, 6, and 7 as the Texans held the Cowboys, Bills, and Jaguars to 36 points combined with none of the three scoring more than 16.

Which brings us to Week 8 when the Texans thumped the Dolphins 42-23 on Thursday Night Football behind five touchdowns passes from Watson to take complete control of the AFC South and sit atop the division at 5-3.

With eight games remaining on their schedule, the Texans are in prime position to stay in first place as only two of their remaining opponents, the Eagles and Redskins, have a .500 record or better.

Adding to the Texans’ odds of making some noise in the rest of the season and beyond is the fact that they added wide receiver Demaryius Thomas from the Broncos at the trade deadline in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

A 30-year-old wideout with a big contract, Thomas gives the Texans an elite receiving option next to DeAndre Hopkins and lessens the pressure on emerging pass-catcher Keke Coutee. The acquisition also dramatically reduces the impact of losing wide receiver Will Fuller for the season to a knee injury in Week 8.

Now armed with a clear No. 1 target in Hopkins and a well-above-average second option in Thomas, Watson should be ready to roll and sustain the momentum he generated with his quintet of TD passes against the Dolphins.

While they likely won’t run the table, the Texans do have a legit chance go going 6-2 or 5-3, marks which would both likely put them in the mix for the third or fourth, and possibly even second, seed in the AFC.

But how do the power rankers from ESPNNFL.com, and USA Today see it?

Find out in the latest edition of RealClearLife‘s Ultimate NFL Power Rankings, which combine ratings from those three outlets to get a single rank for all 32 teams in NFL and use segmented tiers to arrange them.

Also, for an even greater perspective on how the season has been progressing, check out how each team’s season average ranking compares with where they finished this week and last.

The Best of the Best (1.00-5.33)

No. 1.00, last 1.00, two weeks ago 1.00, season average 1.29: Los Angeles Rams (ESPN, 1), (NFL.com, 1), (USA Today, 1)

No. 3.00, last 3.00, two weeks ago 3.33, season average 3.45: Kansas City Chiefs (ESPN, 2), (NFL.com, 3), (USA Today, 4)

No. 3.00, last 2.66, two weeks ago 2.00, season average 4.94: New England Patriots (ESPN, 4), (NFL.com, 2), (USA Today, 3)

No. 3.00, last 3.33, two weeks ago 3.66, season average 5.33: New Orleans Saints (ESPN, 3), (NFL.com, 4), (USA Today, 2)

No. 5.00, last 5.33, two weeks ago 6.33, season average 9.33: Los Angeles Chargers (ESPN, 5), (NFL.com, 5), (USA Today, 5)

The Best of the Rest (5.34-10.66)

No. 6.66, last 8.66, two weeks ago 11.66, season average 8.95: Carolina Panthers (ESPN, 6), (NFL.com, 6), (USA Today, 8)

No. 6.66, last 8.33, two weeks ago 8.00, season average 10.28: Pittsburgh Steelers (ESPN, 7), (NFL.com, 7), (USA Today, 6)

No. 8.33, last 5.66, two weeks ago 8.00, season average 8.41: Minnesota Vikings (ESPN, 8), (NFL.com, 8), (USA Today, 9)

No. 9.66, last 11.00, two weeks ago 14.33, season average 14.95: Washington Redskins (ESPN, 13), (NFL.com, 9), (USA Today, 7)

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance (10.67-15.99)

No. 11.00, last 12.33, two weeks ago 9.33, season average 8.53: Philadelphia Eagles (ESPN, 10), (NFL.com, 14), (USA Today, 13)

No. 11.33, last 7.33, two weeks ago 6.00, season average 10.91: Baltimore Ravens (ESPN, 10), (NFL.com, 11), (USA Today, 13)

No. 11.66, last 12.00, two weeks ago 13.00, season average 10.62: Green Bay Packers (ESPN, 11), (NFL.com, 13), (USA Today, 11)

No. 13.00, last 13.00, two weeks ago 12.66, season average 13.83: Chicago Bears (ESPN, 14), (NFL.com, 10), (USA Today, 15)

No. 13.33, last 13.00, two weeks ago 8.33, season average 11.87: Cincinnati Bengals (ESPN, 12), (NFL.com, 16), (USA Today, 12)

No. 15.00, last 16.33, two weeks ago 20.00, season average 20.54: Houston Texans (ESPN, 16), (NFL.com, 12), (USA Today, 17)

No. 15.33, last 16.33, two weeks ago 17.33, season average 20.78: Seattle Seahawks (ESPN, 15), (NFL.com, 15), (USA Today, 16)

Stuck in the Middle with You (16.00-21.32)

No. 17.00, last 17.66, two weeks ago 19.33, season average 14.87: Atlanta Falcons (ESPN, 17), (NFL.com, 20), (USA Today, 14)

No. 18.66, last 19.33, two weeks ago 17.66, season average 21.28: Dallas Cowboys (ESPN, 21), (NFL.com, 17), (USA Today, 18)

No. 19.00, last 17.00, two weeks ago 21.00, season average 22.83: Detroit Lions (ESPN, 20), (NFL.com, 18), (USA Today, 19)

No. 20.66, last 19.66, two weeks ago 16.00, season average 17.41: Miami Dolphins (ESPN, 19), (NFL.com, 23), (USA Today, 20)

No. 21.33, last 15.66, two weeks ago 6.33, season average 9.91: Jacksonville Jaguars (ESPN, 18), (NFL.com, 24), (USA Today, 22)

It’s Probably Not Your Year  (21.33-26.65)

No. 21.66, last 22.00, two weeks ago 20.00, season average 19.33: Tennessee Titans (ESPN, 22), (NFL.com, 22), (USA Today, 21)

No. 23.00, last 22.66, two weeks ago 25.00, season average 20.78: Denver Broncos (ESPN, 23), (NFL.com, 19), (USA Today, 27)

No. 23.66, last 26.66, two weeks ago 27.66, season average 25.66: Indianapolis Colts (ESPN, 24), (NFL.com, 21), (USA Today, 26)

No. 24.33, last 23.00, two weeks ago 25.33, season average 18.45: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ESPN, 25), (NFL.com, 25), (USA Today, 23)

No. 25.33, last 24.00, two weeks ago 20.66, season average 22.66: Cleveland Browns (ESPN, 26), (NFL.com, 26), (USA Today, 24)

No. 26.33, last 26.00, two weeks ago 23.00, season average 25.33: New York Jets (ESPN, 27), (NFL.com, 27), (USA Today, 25)

See You in 2019  (26.66-32.00)

No. 28.66, last 28.00, two weeks ago 29.00, season average 26.78: New York Giants (ESPN, 29), (NFL.com, 29), (USA Today, 28)

No. 29.00, last 30.66, two weeks ago 30.00, season average 30.70: Arizona Cardinals (ESPN, 30), (NFL.com, 28), (USA Today, 29)

No. 29.33, last 29.00, two weeks ago 28.00, season average 29.66: Buffalo Bills (ESPN, 28), (NFL.com, 30), (USA Today, 30)

No. 31.00, last 30.66, two weeks ago 30.33, season average 27.83: San Francisco 49ers (ESPN, 31), (NFL.com, 31), (USA Today, 31)

No. 32.00, last 31.66, two weeks ago 32.00, season average 29.99: Oakland Raiders (ESPN, 32), (NFL.com, 32), (USA Today, 32)

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