The important team building aspects of the 2020 NFL offseason have been completed. Sure, there are a few free agent stragglers, more players will be cut, injuries will occur, and camp battles will be fought. Teams may not be built in March, but they are primarily built from January to April.
With this information, and with Vegas’ win totals and individual lines published out in the world, the nerds have what they need to run their computers and simulate the 2020 NFL season. ESPN has done exactly this with their Football Power Index. This is a brief explanation of it.
FPI is our prediction model for the NFL. Preseason ratings are based on each team’s Las Vegas win total; last season’s performance on offense, defense and special teams; the number of returning starters; coaching staff changes; and starting and backup quarterbacks.
FPI has the Texans ranked 24th, with a 38% chance of making the NFL Playoffs, taking into account the creation of the 7th seed in each conference. In the AFC South, the Colts are 14th in the NFL with 8.6 projected wins and a 58% chance of making the playoffs; the Titans are 16th with 8.4 projected wins and a 55% chance of making the playoffs; and the Jaguars are 32nd with 4.9 projected wins and a 4% chance of making the playoffs. Additionally, the Colts and Titans play five of the easiest schedules of the 2020 NFL Season.
The Texans’ play-by-play performance level was mediocre last season. Their defense is nearly identical to last year, except D.J. Reader and Tashaun Gipson are gone and improvement is based on a hopes and prayers approach. The talent level on offense has gotten worse without DeAndre Hopkins. And Houston went 9-3 in one score games and overperformed their expected win total based on point differential by 2.2 wins.
Nearly every preview you are going to read this summer is going to sound like this. Nearly every computer model is going to be down on the 2020 Texans. But the team still has Deshaun Watson, and because of that, all the rest of this stuff may not even matter. The Texans still have the best quarterback in the division, and often enough, that’s the only thing that truly matters.
What do you think? Do you find the projections interesting? Are you prepared for Houston to fall somewhere around this all summer? Do you want to kill your computer?