Grantland's Bill Barnwell has an article up today that predicts various outcomes of the 2014 NFL season. To put it more precisely, Barnwell has analyzed four (4) different statistical categories--point differential, record in one-touchdown games, turnover margin, and defensive touchdowns allowed--that he believes are solid indicators of how a team's fortunes can change from one season to the next.
Not surprisingly for those of us who watched the snakebit 2-14 Houston Texans in 2013, there's nowhere to go but up. How far up? Based on his review of the numbers, Barnwell is rather bullish on the Texans' chances in 2014:
First, the Texans are primed for an immediate comeback toward the middle of the NFL pack, even if the combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage they’ll run out at quarterback might preclude them from being a playoff contender. Virtually every metric I can find suggests they were an underrated and unlucky team last year, and that’s without considering how they repeatedly juggled quarterbacks and quit on their coach. With even average luck next year, Houston should be a 7-9 or 8-8 team. And if it has a few bounces break its way — picture Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt wishboning Andrew Luck — the Texans could very well be next year’s surprise playoff team.
Personally (and I will explain why in a separate post later), I believe 8-8 is the Texans' realistic ceiling in 2014. That's not to say something can't happen that would make me adjust that prediction, but that's how things look to me in late May. What are your thoughts on Barnwell's analysis?