The most important thing is what’s happening right now, whatever that means, so I haven’t given much thought to 2018 season previews and predictions. We are still a new layer of bronzed skin, a couple hundred beers, a dozen cookouts, a broken heart, and a hundred baseball games away from August. I’ll really sit down and scrub the crust off the crystal ball and do some soothsaying then.
That doesn’t mean others don’t and haven’t already predicted the future. Earlier this week, CG technology posted spreads for every game of the 2018 NFL season. At first glance this sounds like a silly thing to do, but after doing some reading, these lines actually do a pretty good job of indicating preseason expectations. There are plenty of models out there that use official spreads as a jumping off point to predict the future.
One of the tools derived from these game spreads was created by Chase Stewart at Football Perspective. Using game spreads, he created an implied team rating system and figured out a way to calculate every team’s strength of schedule. Here’s the methodology.
What we do is take the point spread in each game, adjust for home field (except for the four international games), and then determine how by many points Vegas thinks Team A is better than Team B. When the Patriots are favored by 8.5 points in a road game against the Jets, we can take this to mean that Vegas thinks New England is 11.5 points better than New York. When Vegas says New England is a 7-point home favorite against the Texans, that tells us that Vegas thinks the Patriots are 4 points better than Houston. That’s just two games, of course: Using the iterative SRS process, we can generate season ratings based on the 240 point spreads involved.
Simple enough. The Houston Texans come out pretty well in this system. Adjusting for home field advantage, the Texans are expected to beat their opponent by 2.33 points, which is tied for eighth with the New Orleans Saints. The Texans also have the easiest expected schedule with a rating of -0.79. After combining the two, the Texans are 11th in implied team rating with a value of 1.33, ranking slightly behind Jacksonville at 2.42 (8th), and ahead of Tennessee at .27 (16th) and Indianapolis -36.5 (29th).
With Deshaun Watson back, the defense healthier, and the moves Brian Gaine made this offseason, from a subjective standpoint, this is about where I would place the Texans as well.