While I will be the first one to tell you that lists of top players and things like power rankings are pointless, the latest preseason power rankings over at Pro Football Talk caught my attention. My biggest thing with rankings like these are not about where the Houston Texans are placed, because I think 10th overall isn’t anything to be furious about. My main gripe is with who is ranked ahead of them.
I agree with Darin Gannt, who proclaims in the article that, “The Texans had a long climb to respectability. But now that they’ve achieved it, there’s suddenly a sense of unfulfilled potential.” That definitely seems to be the pulse around Houston. Fans went from being satisfied just to receive a playoff berth to “Super Bowl or bust” in a span of only months. With fears that the window is closing rapidly, this is even more prevalent in 2013.
What I disagree with PFT on is the fact that they have the New Orleans Saints ranked ahead of them.
The Texans had their issues last season and they were glaring by the time their disastrous first meeting with the New England Patriots concluded. Add to that a repeat performance in the playoffs and fans were chirping all offseason that this team was going nowhere.
But hope springs eternal in the preseason and the glow of optimism is shining bright again. Even for someone such as myself, who thinks this team still has several weaknesses, we’ve been asking, “why not us?”
As for my comment about the Saints, I have a hard time buying that simply because Sean Payton is back that they are going to do a total 180 on their historically bad defense from a year ago. Yes, Drew Brees is amazing and a top-three quarterback in the league. But you don’t win squat without defense, as Houston showed in the postseason last year, and I don’t see him picking up iron man football.
Unlike New Orleans, Houston has the pieces for a dominant defense. They have the best defensive player in the game right now in J.J. Watt and All-Pro Brian Cushing, the heart and soul of their defense, returning from missing eleven regular season games in 2012. They’ve added a crafty veteran in Ed Reed, as well as some young blood from this draft and last.
If you want to say that the Cincinnati Bengals might make the jump past Houston this year, I can imagine that being a possibility. But New Orleans? You have to give me more of a reason than just because Payton is back.
In the end, as I said, power rankings are foolish and mean next to nothing. The only thing they succeed at is generating debate, which this has. Houston coming in at 10th probably isn’t what a fan base that expects to contend for a title likes to see, but it means very little.
If you’re one of the top 10 teams, that means you’re in the conversation. This isn’t an AP or coaches poll where 10th overall means you get to play in the Chick-fil-a Bowl when the regular season ends.
10th overall means you’re expected to be right in the thick of it when the postseason begins and that’s precisely where I think the Texans are at.
Mike Kerns is a Houston Texans writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” his page on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also subscribe to his Texans podcast on iTunes.