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NFL power rankings countdown to training camp: Houston Texans, No. 32

The 2021 NFL training camp is just around the corner. We break down the top 32 teams starting with the Houston Texans.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) during the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.  John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

There are 32 days until the bulk of NFL training camps get going on July 27th and that means today we start our countdown of the worst to best NFL teams going into the 2021 season. Unfortunately one team has to be No. 32, and that unique distinction goes to the Houston Texans.

The Texans head into training camp in dire straits, as their franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson isn’t planning on reporting to the team and is also in legal trouble. That comes after a 4-12 season with Watson playing at an MVP level in 2020. Besides Watson, they lost wide receiver Will Fuller, which means their best offensive player is wide receiver Brandin Cooks with nobody to take coverage away and nobody special at quarterback, running back or tight end to help him out.

Tyrod Taylor looks like he’ll be the starter in Week 1. He’s not a bad quarterback, but he doesn’t elevate his team and serves more as a role-playing backup. I wish the best for his success, but he’d need much more talent around him to help lead a team to consistent wins.

2020 record

4-12, last in AFC South

2020 defense

Points: 29 points per game, rank 27th
Yards: 6.2 yards per play, rank 29th
Football Outsiders Ranking: 30th

2020 offense

Points: 24 points per game, rank 18th
Yards: 6.4 yards per play, rank 1st
Football Outsiders Ranking: 13th

2021 DraftKings Sportsbook odds

Super Bowl: +17500
AFC Champion: +8000
AFC South: +2800
Win Total: 4.5 (Over +130, Under -159)

Offseason moves

The Texans finally got rid of Bill O’Brien and brought in former Baltimore Ravens Assistant Head Coach David Culley. Culley was a surprise hire, but he’s the man and he’s brought in defensive coordinator and ex-Bears head coach Lovie Smith while keeping offensive coordinator Tim Kelly. The move to keep Kelly was likely made to entice Watson to stick around, but it also gives some continuity for the offensive players still on the team

They brought in Taylor and drafted Davis Mills in an attempt to offset Watson’s probable absence and brought in running backs Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay and Rex Burkhead and let running back Duke Johnson go. They let Fuller walk in free agency and drafted Nico Collins while bringing in Chris Conley, Alex Erickson, Chris Moore and Andre Roberts to add to starters Cooks and Randall Cobb.

J.J. Watt is the biggest name to move on, as he has been the face of the Texans franchise for a long while. Injuries have caught up to him, but he was still better than most when healthy.

Biggest question entering training camp

To be competitive they’ll need for Watson to somehow come back into the fold. But other than Watson, they have question marks at wide receiver, tight end, running back and all over the defense. Who will come out on top in those training camp battles? The running back position has the biggest names with David Johnson, Mark Ingram, Rex Burkhead and Phillip Lindsay all vying for playing time. All four have dealt with injuries while the Tp 2, Johnson and Ingram, are on the decline. There really isn’t a player in the group you can see taking the job and truly excelling, but Johnson has tenure.

What needs to happen for the Texans to win the Super Bowl?

We’re asking this question for each team, so the 32nd ranked team is likely the most jarring to contemplate when trying to answer. Their odds are +17500 for them to take home the Lombardi trophy over at DraftKings Sportsbook, which are the worst in the league. To overcome those odds they would need Watson to suit up and play all 17 games at an MVP level once again, while the rest of their team will need to stay healthy with young players and relative unknowns playing high above their heads.

2021 Outlook

Winning four games again, even in a 17 game season, without Watson seems like a stretch. The Detroit Lions are the only other team that looks able to compete for the title of worst team in the league, but they at least have some young talent that might step up on occasion.