Could the Texans Be Favored in Every Game the Rest of the Season?
Reasons to smile?
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"Its not that big of a stretch to think the Texans will be favored in every remaining game." -- @clintshane on Twitter last night
It's funny, I mentioned in yesterday's post how drastically people's outlooks can swing based on a relatively small body of work, such as a single 41-7 win over the Tennessee Titans. A week ago we were all wondering exactly how the Texans would find their way to 8-8 again, and come Monday? Well, see above tweet.
That said, because he is my friend, I didn't want to completely dismiss @clintshane's tweet as hogwash (despite about a 98 percent chance that it was generated amidst the haze of an empty bottle of whiskey).
So let's see if he was correct, shall we?
Did the bottle let @clintshane down?
If you had a chance to read my Texans preview in the print edition of the Houston Press, then you are familiar with my method of generating a season prediction, a method affectionately known as the "Pendergast Bucket Method" (PBM, for short), in which I place each game into one of the following three buckets:
Must wins: These are games that, to have any chance of making the playoffs, the Texans have to cash in on. Worst case, you can have one mulligan. But lose two of these games, and you're probably not a double-digit win team.
Coin flippers: Games that could go either way and will likely be played within one score. To make the playoffs, the Texans need to win more of these games than they lose.
Steals: Road games in which the Texans will likely be an underdog of five points or more against teams that they've historically struggled with (Indianapolis), match up poorly with (Baltimore) or that they have to play in a hostile environment in potentially adverse conditions (New Orleans). If you're going to be a playoff team, as a rule, none of your home games can qualify for this category, and you probably need to win at least one of these along the way.
For what it's worth, here is where I had all of the Texans' 2011 games slotted before the season:
Must wins, 7: vs Oakland, vs Jacksonville, vs Cleveland, @ Jacksonville, @ Cincinnati, vs Carolina, vs Tennessee
Coin flippers, 6: vs Indianapolis, @ Miami, vs Pittsburgh, @ Tennessee, @ Tampa Bay, vs Atlanta
Steals, 3: @ New Orleans, @ Baltimore, @ Indianapolis
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So thus far, the Texans are 0-1 in "Must wins," 4-0 in "Coin flippers" and 0-2 in "Steals." So before we assess the rest of the schedule and recalibrate our expectations, let's point out a few mitigating factors:
-- To hit my 10-6 prediction via normal PBM distribution, the Texans need to beat the Colts in Indy (highly likely), can afford to lose one "Must Win" (possibly Cincy) and can actually lose both remaining coin flippers. In short, further evidence the schedule is not all that tough this year, especially given that...
-- ...the above categorizations were formulated about three days before the severity of Peyton Manning's injury was fully known. So if it looks crazy to have an 0-7 Colts team in "Steals," that's why.
-- Teams that seven weeks in, I miscategorized: Colts (for obvious reasons), Raiders (at least the Week 5 version with a healthy QB), Miami (going for 0-16) and Cincinnati (feisty, but we'll see; could be correct on them by the time Week 14 rolls around).
Now, to be clear, this post is not a revision of my preseason prediction of 10-6. If you make a prediction, you stand by it, even if circumstances change due to injury, ineptitude or the football gods flipping you the middle finger just because. Players can't make excuses, so dammit, I won't either.
So I am standing by 10-6, I'm really just making a near midseason assessment of the team, and above all else, trying to see just how shitfaced @clintshane was when he tweeted about the Texans' being favored in every remaining game this season.
So let's take a look, and maybe even revise the odds on each game based on a date of October 25 (as opposed to early September):
Sunday, October 30 -- vs Jacksonville BUCKET RATING, Sept 7: MUST WIN SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Sept 7: Texans -6 SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Oct 25: Texans -9 1/2 COMMENT: The spread on this game just came out this morning, so this was the easiest shred of evidence that @clintshane might be right. That, and the fact that the Jaguars used up their monthly quota on wins (one) last night against the Ravens.
The Colts ain't what they used to be
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Sunday, November 6 -- vs Cleveland BUCKET RATING, Sept 7: MUST WIN SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Sept 7: Texans -7 SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Oct 25: Texans -9 1/2 COMMENT: So far, so good. Go look at Cleveland's schedule, they haven't really played anybody good all that well. It's a "bottom third of the league" team. The Texans' trouble has been more a middle- and upper-third thing over the years.
Sunday, November 13 -- at Tampa Bay BUCKET RATING, Sept 7: COIN FLIPPER SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Sept 7: Bucs -3 SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Oct 25: Pick 'em COMMENT: This is a nerve-racking game, although the Texans defense has been pretty good at forcing turnovers so far this season and Josh Freeman can be flustered into mistakes.
Sunday, November 20 -- BYE
Sunday, November 27 -- at Jacksonville BUCKET RATING, Sept 7: MUST WIN SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Sept 7: Texans -1 SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Oct 25: Texans - 3 1/2 COMMENT: A little scary in that the Texans haven't played well in Jacksonville the last few years, and the Jags can play a little defense at home, we saw that last night.
Sunday, December 4 -- vs Atlanta BUCKET RATING, Sept 7: COIN FLIPPER SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Sept 7: Falcons - 2 1/2 SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Oct 25: Texans - 4 COMMENT: This is not your "younger brother born a year before you"'s Falcons. In other words, they overachieved last season at 13-3. Big time. Very winnable game for the Texans.
Sunday, December 11 -- at Cincinnati BUCKET RATING, Sept 7: MUST WIN SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Sept 7: Texans -6 SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Oct 25: Texans -1 COMMENT: I'd hate to play this game this weekend, but by December 11 the Bengals should have realized they're the Bengals. Still a little scary if they're playing well.
Sunday, December 18 -- vs Carolina BUCKET RATING, Sept 7: MUST WIN SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Sept 7: Texans - 8 1/2 SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Oct 25: Texans - 8 1/2 COMMENT: Texans should win this, and because of Cam Newton possibly the game I'm most excited about the rest of the way on the schedule.
Thursday, December 22 -- at Indianapolis BUCKET RATING, Sept 7: STEAL SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Sept 7: Colts -3 SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Oct 25: Texans -7 COMMENT: Thankfully, this isn't the BCS, where style points matter. Go in, throttle Curtis Painter, get the hell out.
Sunday, January 1 -- vs Tennessee BUCKET RATING, Sept 7: MUST WIN SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Sept 7: Texans -6 1/2 SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED, Oct 25: Texans - 7 COMMENT: Biggest lock of the Kubiak Era? Texans in the final home game of the year. 5-0 under Gary Kubiak. Typically, this game means nothing. Hopefully, this season it means nothing but for different reasons, i.e., resting guys because they've clinched their playoff spot.
CONCLUSION: First, assuming the quarterback stays healthy, this is an 11-5 schedule easily, so I'm feeling pretty good about 10-6 right now. As for the original premise, @clintshane's assertion that the Texans could be favored in every game -- wow, go back through those games. I have the Texans favored in all but one, and that one is a pick 'em against an average Tampa Bucs team. In short, I now need to go call @clintshane and find out which of the twelve steps he is on and when he decided to stop drinking.
I'm happy for him.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio and 1560 The Game weekdays noon to 3 p.m., and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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