Since we’re nearing the frenzied peak of offseason prognostication, we’re starting to see more and more, “Well, my predictions are based on factual, scientific evidence” pieces from a variety of sources.
ESPN.com’s Bill Barnwell is no exception. His latest piece employs stats, theories, and apparently, Pythagorean theory to determine that your Houston Texans are going down the drain in 2017. While I’m not sure what three sides of a triangle have to do with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney blowing up an opposing offense, it’s still an interesting piece, if for no other reason than we’re all starving for seemingly relevant NFL content this time of year.
For the stat junkies, here’s a link to the explanation of the logic base upon which Barnwell builds his house.
From there, Barnwell had some - on the surface - depressing things to say about H-Town football.
The Texans joined the privileged ranks of those teams that posted a winning record while being outscored over the season. Houston posted the fourth-worst point differential for a team with a winning record since 1989, and things don't often go well for teams in that bracket. The 10 winning teams with the worst point differentials declined by an average of 1.8 wins the following season. Squads that exceeded their Pythagorean expectation by two to three wins -- a group the Texans squeeze right into at 2.5 wins -- declined by an average of three wins the following season.
On the Con to his Pro, Barnwell did address the elephant (giraffe?) in the room, Brock Osweiler and the utterly black-hole-ish effect he had on the team last year.
It's more plausible that Houston would get better quarterback play from (Deshaun) Watson. Osweiler averaged 4.3 adjusted net yards per attempt last season. There have been 10 other passers since 1990 taken between picks 11 and 20 of the first round who have thrown passes as a rookie. Those passers have combined to average 4.9 ANY/A. Watson is certainly a higher-upside option than Osweiler or any of the replacement-level quarterbacks the Texans would have brought in on a backup's salary to compete.
Here's a link to Barnwell’s full article if you’d like to read it. It’s a fairly depressing reminder of just how awful the 2016 season really was, despite what BOB said to Brian.
Then again, this is the off-season, where every team is a champion, where there are no losers (except maybe in the Browns’ quarterback room), and where hope springs eternal.
What do you think? Fascinated with the attempt to apply mathematical equations to predict future NFL trends? Tired of all the excessive efforts to predict the unpredictable? Or are you just sick of it all and ready for (preseason) kickoff next week?