Game Control: Just How Overwhelmed Have The 2015 Houston Texans Been?
Photo by Marco Torres
Like 10 other NFL teams, the Houston Texans sit at 1-3 at the season's quarter pole. They've lost to one of those fellow 1-3 outfits (Kansas City in the opener) and they've beaten one (Tampa Bay). Both of those games took place at home. Their two losses are at the hands of two of the remaining undefeated teams (Carolina and Atlanta), both on the road.
When it comes to point differential, even after the 48-21 pummeling in Atlanta on Sunday, the Texans -31 difference is better than five of the 1-3 teams (Miami, Jacksonville, Chicago, Tampa Bay, San Francisco) and worse than five (Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Philadelphia, New Orleans). So by one very valued metric, the Texans are smack dab in the middle of the mediocre 1-3 teams in the NFL. But are they really?
Their three losses are by seven points apiece to the Chiefs and Panthers and 27 points to the Falcons. Their one win over Tampa Bay was a single digit margin either way until the final field goal was tacked on with a couple minutes to go to provide a ten point Texans win. The final score, though, is not always an indicator of how the ebb and flow of a game went. Game control, the amount of time a team spends battling back from big deficits or protecting big leads, is truly a better indicator of the better team. Or put differently, game control is probably a better support mechanism for our subjective thoughts on just how good or bad a team is.
Along those lines, the Texans have played 240 minutes of football so far this season. So I went and calculated the amount of time they've spent at various margins of leads (very few of those) and deficits (LOTS AND LOTS of those!). Here are the numbers — the lead (+) or deficit (-) amount, the amount of minutes and seconds spent at that margin, and the percentage of the 240 minutes that amount of time represents, after which I will have some eyebrow raising facts to pull from this data:
MARGIN TIME %
0-0 28:11 11.7
+10 1:12 0.5
+7 16:45 7.0
+4 7:24 3.1
+3 11:35 4.8
+1 18:23 7.7
EVEN 7:25 3.1
-2 6:14 2.6
-4 5:56 2.5
-7 41:39 17.4
-8 5:20 2.2
-10 2:44 1.1
-11 4:06 1.7
-14 9:44 4.1
-18 26:02 10.8
-21 17:00 7.1
-28 13:39 5.7
-35 13:07 5.5
-42 3:34 1.5
Fun Texan "Game Control" facts, broken down in plain English:
1. The Texans have trailed in their four games for 62.2 percent of the season, and that includes the chunks of the game where it's still 0-0 early in games.
2. For betting purposes, a game with a spread of a touchdown (7 points) or more is considered a pretty lopsided game. In their three losses, the Texans have trailed by seven points or more for 76.1 percent of the 180 minutes of football played.
3. If you back out the period of time that the three losses are tied at 0-0, in the portion of the games after the first score by either team has been tallied, the Texans have trailed by seven points or more for 84.6 percent of the time.
4. If you back out the period of time that the three losses are tied at 0-0, in the portion of the games after the first score by either team has been tallied, the Texans have trailed by DOUBLE DIGIT POINTS for 62.7 percent of the time. Yes, the Texans have spent a majority of the Chiefs, Panthers, and Falcons games playing from multiple scores behind.
5. In some way, the Texans' double digit deficits they've faced in their three losses are the only thing that is keeping their offense from being complete NFL roadkill, as they've been allowed to pile up meaningless yards against prevent defenses, particularly in the Chiefs and Falcons games. Just ask DeAndre Hopkins, who statistically is one of the bets receivers in football, 31 catches for 409 yards. However, look closer — 15 catches for 215 yards have come with the Texans trailing by double digits in the second halves of losses. DeAndre Hopkins is basically the Jerry Rice of garbage time.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.