NFL Power Ratings Week 5 - Biggest Riser: Houston Texans
By winning a meaningless game in Week 18 last season, the Houston Texasn missed out on Alabama QB Bryce Young who was touted by the majority as the best quarterback in the class despite of his diminutive stature.
The Texans had to settle for CJ Stroud, a quarterback who performed well in college, but there were serious questions about his pocket presence and ability to handle the blitz particularly from the blind side.
When the Texans regular season began, their rash of injuries was one of the most significant in the league. Worse yet, the offensive line seemed to be the most impacted.
It didn’t take Nostradamus to figure out what would happen next.
Head Coach Demeco Ryan was certainly a respected hire, but expectations were limited coming into the year. This was a rebuild in Houston which was only magnified by their injury report. After an 0-2 start, no one, not even Houston faithful, was surprised. There was a glimmer of hope in their demise.
CJ Stroud, the quarterback that fell to them at 2 was posting absurd numbers in their defeat, but plenty of below average quarterbacks have posted impressive counting stats in blowouts. There was no reason to be optimistic on the Texans and I certainly didn’t move them up in my power ratings because of it.
But then something peculiar happened.
The Texans with their porous offensive line and the ever-growing list of injury concerns flew to Jacksonville where they dominated the Jaguars by 20.
Simply an aberration.
Any given Sunday.
Then came last week against the Steelers at home a 30-6 win. Now, CJ Stroud is getting love from the analytics community, scouts, and anyone with eyes.
The Texans themselves rated 11th overall in DVOA.
They haven’t played the most difficult schedule, but then again, they have a relatively easy schedule moving forward. I’m not sure Houston is an average team, but I’m convinced they aren’t among the leagues worst. I moved them up a full point and a half in my power ratings this week, which is a very large move, but according to the early line move may not be enough.
Biggest Downgrade: New York Giants
The Giants entered Week 4 at 1-2, which most sane handicappers would have posited. Losing to Dallas and the 49ers would come as no surprise and they should have beat the Cardinals who many thought, including myself, would be one of the worst teams in the league.
On paper, it went exactly as expected, but how they found themselves as 1-2 was most concerning: crushed by Dallas by 40, down by 21 points before mounting a comeback versus the Cardinals, and then a non-competitive contest in San Francisco.
Even with all the disappointment, a win at home against Seattle on Monday Night would ease all concerns. Being .500 through 4 would be enough to reset the ship and provide traction to a slippery start.
Three hours of unwatchable football later, the Giants walk off the field defeated by an embarrassing 21 points. The offensive line, perhaps the biggest culprit of their many struggles has crushed Daniel Jones spirit and any thoughts of a run game.
Receivers can’t even finish their route before their signal caller is under duress. The most consistent offensive success, perhaps their only, is Daniel Jones desperately trying to elude his persuers like an escaped dog, not knowing which way to turn to find sanctuary.
Worse yet, within this bout of improvisation and amidst the constant pressure, Jones has fumbled the ball more than any player in the NFL since 2019. Through the first four weeks of the season, the Giants have played 8 quarters in the first half, the equivalent of 2 full games.
They have manufactured 9 total points during that time.
To make matters worse, the Giants troubles are more than just on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, they have forgotten how to tackle. Wink Martindale’s blitzkrieg defense seems to be past its prime as they have yet to cover anyone, including the spread, this season.
Thomas McGaughey, the Giants Special Teams coach who has miraculously survived three NYG head coaching changes, has his own cross to bear. On Monday Night, the punt return team had two separate holding penalties, a muffed punt, and several curious decisions not to fair catch the ball, which resulted in surrendering significant yardage throughout the game.
The cumulative result of this Giants nightmare is a downgrade of a full point and a half.
There is the possibility that both Andrew Thomas and Saquon Barkley, their two best offensive players come back this week. If so, I will certainly bump them up in my power ratings. Until then, it is time to consider the Giants a bottom 4 team in the NFL.
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