CARDINALS CORNER

Texans heat index: Cardinals’ 2nd 1st-rounder trending up as Houston limps into Week 15

Dec 15, 2023, 4:16 PM

TEMPE — The Arizona Cardinals are riding high coming off a bye week while holding two first-round picks inside the top 15 of the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft.

In addition to their own first-rounder — currently sitting No. 3 overall — the Cardinals also possess the Houston Texans’ first pick following a 2023 draft-day trade orchestrated by general manager Monti Ossenfort.

Houston’s season, however, has gone off much better than many expected behind first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. And with every win, the Cardinals’ other first-rounder drops that much lower in the draft order.

To help keep track of the Cardinals’ extra first-round pick in the draft on a weekly basis, here’s a closer look at where the Texans are currently and where they are headed:

2024 NFL Draft order snapshot

10. Las Vegas Raiders (6-8)
11. Atlanta Falcons (6-7)
12. New Orleans Saints (6-7)
13. Seattle Seahawks (6-7)
14. Los Angeles Rams (6-7)
15. Houston Texans *owned by Arizona Cardinals* (7-6)
16. Denver Broncos (7-6)
17. Buffalo Bills (7-6)
18. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6)

It was a strong week in the draft-implications department for the Cardinals.

Not only did they watched their original pick cement even further inside the top 3 while also seeing Houston get blown out by Zach Wilson and the New York Jets.

With the loss — and the help of some other teams — the Texans’ pick went up three spots from No. 18 to No. 15. It’s the highest Houston has been projected to pick in weeks.

Sunday’s tilt was ugly in every way for the Texans in the 30-6 defeat. Stroud turned in the first sub-100-yard game of his NFL career behind a 43.5% completion percentage.

That’s not even the worst part for Stroud and Co.

Texans losing streak inbound?

In addition to his rough outing, Stroud suffered a concussion in the final minutes of the loss and is officially listed as doubtful while still in protocol, a telltale sign that he’ll miss Sunday’s matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

Expected to start in place of Stroud is backup Davis Mills, who is 5-19-1 as Houston’s QB1 the previous two seasons.

Stroud’s not the only notable Texan dealing with injury, either, with linebackers Will Anderson Jr. (ankle) and Blake Cashman (hamstring) already ruled out by the team. No. 1 wide receiver Nico Collins (calf) is also not expected to play, per KPRC 2’s Aaron Wilson.

Already down Tank Dell for the rest of the season with a fractured fibula, the injury bug is running rampant in Houston as it prepares for a Tennessee team that is coming off an improbably comeback over the Miami Dolphins. If not for an overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 13, the Titans would be on a three-game winning streak.

All sixs and sevens!

Welcome back in for another round of “how strong is your schedule!”

Despite a four-way tie between Houston, Denver, Buffalo and Cincinnati at 7-6, the Texans get the higher draft spot thanks to their weaker strength of schedule (SOS).

That’s good news when it comes to the Cardinals’ second first-rounder’s stock.

As for the four teams at 6-7 wedged above the Texans, the Seahawks (.516) and the Rams (.534) sport stronger schedules than Houston (.480). A win by either this week in addition to a Texans loss would improve the first-rounder.

More promising news for Arizona.

Games to watch in Week 15

In addition to Texans-Titans, here’s a handful of games with draft implications to keep tabs on this week:

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Minnesota Vikings

The Bengals may have found a way to win with their backup quarterback.

The same can’t be said for the Vikings.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Colts are right there in the playoff hunt at 7-6.

Denver Broncos @ Detroit Lions

The Broncos have figured things out, but the Lions are in another tier and should be champing at the bit to rid the bad taste of a Bears loss from their mouths.

New Orleans Saints vs. New York Giants

A win by the Saints would move them to .500 and keep the logjam afloat in the middle of the draft order.

Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers

Falcons should walk out of Carolina with a win against a Panthers squad that is looking to next season, even without its first-round pick that is currently projected to be No. 1 overall.

Brutal look for Carolina.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Washington Commanders

A win by the Rams and a loss by the Texans means the draft stock rises.

Buffalo Bills vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Bills are very hit and miss right now. The Cowboys meanwhile have found another gear.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Nothing better than routing against the Seahawks’ demise, especially when draft picks are involved.

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