Texans advance past Browns in wild card round, Cardinals’ draft pick drops further

Jan 13, 2024, 5:24 PM | Updated: 5:46 pm

C.J. Stroud...

C.J. Stroud #7 of the Houston Texans celebrates with Laremy Tunsil #78 and Michael Deiter #63 after a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs at NRG Stadium on January 13, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals’ season ended a week ago, but their draft capital remains dependent on how far the AFC South champion Houston Texans advance in the playoffs.

Houston took care of business at home during the wild card round on Saturday, taking down the Cleveland Browns, 45-14.

Arizona owns Houston’s first-, third- and fifth-round picks in the 2024 draft via two trades. The Texans’ initial first-rounder will now be no better than No. 25 overall and can continue to drop depending on the rest of the weekend’s outcomes and if Houston keeps winning. The Texans-Browns game was the first of wild card weekend.

The Cardinals acquired the Texans’ 2024 first-rounder in a draft-day trade in 2023. Arizona handed the No. 3 pick to Houston to take edge rusher Will Anderson Jr., while the Cardinals added the Nos. 12 and 33 picks along with a third-rounder. The Cardinals traded back up to No. 6 for offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr.

The Texans benefitted from a spectacular first half from rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud on Saturday, who threw for 236 yards and three touchdowns before the break. Houston’s defense returned two interceptions off Browns quarterback Joe Flacco for touchdowns in the second half to break the game wide open. Former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans earned his first playoff win as a head coach.

Stroud became the youngest quarterback to win a playoff game. At 22 years and 102 days old, he passed Michael Vick, who was 22 years, 192 days old in 2002 when his Falcons beat the Packers.

Houston made the playoffs after defeating the Indianapolis Colts in a do-or-die matchup in Week 18.

What a difference a year makes for the Texans, who won three games last season to earn the No. 2 overall pick.

The Cardinals’ own pick is No. 4 overall after a 4-13 season, and preseason projections expected the Texans to finish similarly.

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