It is the first time ESPN’s power panel has ranked Houston inside the top 10 since they were ranked No. 4 in Week 3 of the 2013 season.
Their win over the Chicago Bears had to be an impressive one for the power panel to move them up in the rankings so quickly. The Texans sacked Jay Cutler five times, allowed 4.8 yards per play, ran for 129 yards and saw what their season might look like with strong quarterback play and more than one dynamic wide receiver.
Let’s examine Houston’s case as a top-10 team in the NFL after seeing its new-look offense.
Osweiler’s clutch downfield throws
Brock Osweiler had an impressive debut for the Texans. He posted a 78.5 Total QBR against Chicago, the 11th-best QBR in the league in Week 1.
Much of the high QBR comes from Osweiler completing key passes deep downfield. His average throw Sunday traveled 11.7 yards past the line of scrimmage, highest in the league. Osweiler was the only quarterback who threw 20 or more yards downfield on over 20 percent of his pass attempts in Week 1.
One of Osweiler’s highlights of the day was a pass thrown 23 yards into the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins.
Osweiler had another highlight-reel throw on third down in the middle of the fourth quarter. This one was perfectly placed down the left sideline to rookie Will Fuller and it extended the drive that eventually gave the Texans a two-score lead.
Hopkins-Fuller a dynamic duo
The duo of Hopkins and Fuller at wide receiver could be one the best combinations that the Texans have ever had at the position. The Texans have never had multiple 1,000-yard receivers in a single season, but Fuller, who was the No. 21 overall pick in this year’s draft, got off to a great start.
Fuller became the first Texans rookie to post at least 100 receiving yards in a season opener. He showed impressive ball skills on the deep pass from Osweiler and great after-the-catch ability on his touchdown reception earlier in the quarter.
Osweiler’s screen pass to Fuller early in the fourth quarter was a low one, but the rookie was able to scoop up the pass and run straight through the Bears’ defense for the 18-yard score.
Houston’s wide receivers had one receiving touchdown on screen passes in the previous three seasons combined.
Miller finally featured
Lamar Miller never touched the ball 25 times in a game in 61 career games with the Miami Dolphins. In his debut in a Texans uniform, Miller set career highs in rushes (28) and total touches (32).
Miller was one of only two players who rushed for at least 100 yards in Week 1, with DeAngelo Williams being the other.
The Texans play the Kansas City Chiefs in what should be one of the best matchups in the NFL in Week 2. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Texans a 55 percent chance to win at home, the second-closest projected matchup of the weekend.
Houston has lost the past three meetings between the teams, including a 30-0 loss in last year’s wild-card round. The Texans’ new-look offense will be a much tougher test for Kansas City this time around. In the 30-point loss, Brian Hoyer threw four interceptions and posted a QBR of 1.7.