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Football Outsiders: Texans 11th In DVOA Despite 0-2 Start

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Here’s some sunshine.

Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Starting out 0-2 is a bummer. We waited a year to see this team perform at full strength, and now it’s here, and now the Texans are 0-2. They lost the game they always lose to the Patriots, and they lost a game they should have won to Mike Vrabel, Blaine Gabbert, and the missing-their-two-starting-offensive-tackles Titans, because of this play of course.

Yes, yes, yes, that’s the stuff.

Things are bleak. For Houston to fulfill their postseason aspirations, Sunday is a must-win game.

This is where things are, but there’s some good news. If you like football stats that ooze outside of the boundaries of yards and points scored, you know what Football Outsiders is, and if you know what Football Outsiders is, then you know what DVOA is. In this week’s release of their DVOA rankings, the Texans are 11th despite the finality of their 0-2 record. This is what FO has to say:

The other team where the record and the DVOA look very different is Houston. Despite starting the season 0-2, the Texans are 11th in DVOA. That’s without opponent adjustments, so there’s no consideration for the fact that their first loss came to the New England Patriots. Instead, what’s going on here is that the Texans absolutely whooped the Tennessee Titans in DVOA this week despite actually losing the game. Houston’s DVOA for this game is 39.2%, with the Titans at -44.4%. The Texans gained 7.0 net yards per play, and held the Titans to only 5.0. Their turnover margin of -1 doesn’t come close to making up for that yardage difference. The Texans just had a number of drives with a lot of yards that didn’t end in points. They had drives of 58 and 38 yards end in punts, and another 38-yard drive ended in an interception. They also got 31 yards on the meaningless last play from midfield but ran out of time to get up, spike the ball, and get the field goal team on. (That one play matters more in the yardage average than in DVOA.) The Texans were also more efficient than the Titans on third downs (5-fo-11 vs. 5-of-15). They lost the game because of one big play (the fake punt touchdown), two Tennessee fourth-down conversions, and some very bad game and clock management. They got stuck twice with fourth-and-long in no man’s land, and punted both times: fourth-and-14 on the Tennessee 38 and fourth-and-8 on the Tennessee 37. But overall when it came to getting yardage, the Texans were better than you think they were. Those yardage gains aren’t usually going to end up with fourth-and-long in no man’s land in future games. Thus, the higher DVOA rating.

Things are bad, but they aren’t done. The points aren’t there, but Houston has moved the ball well. The defense played great against Tennessee, and if it wasn’t for that pesky fake punt touchdown, Bill O’Brien playing for the field goal with some screen passes, and the defense bending to allow two field goals to end the game, Houston probably would have beaten the Titans. If the Texans takes care of the Giants at home and the Colts next week, everything is normal again.