Why the Houston Texans Are the Best Team in the NFL

In examining the stats that play the biggest role in determining a team’s winning percentage, the Houston Texans currently represent the only team in the NFL ranked in the top 10 in all of them. They are one of the best teams at throwing the ball efficiently, protecting Schaub, keeping the ball, and controlling tempo on offense. On defense, they have become hard to throw against, they get after the QB, take the ball away, and force the other team to throw. In all of these areas, they have improved markedly over last year.

Offense 2011 Rank 2010 Rank
Yards/Pass Attempt 7.747 #6 7.220 #5
Turnovers/Play 0.015 #4 0.017 #4
Sacks Allowed/Play 0.025 #4 0.031 #12
% Plays Running 51.7% #2 41.1% #23
Yards/Pass Attempt 5.705 #3 7.824 #31
Turnovers/Play 0.031 #8 0.018 #31
Sacks/Play 0.047 #5 0.030 #22
% Plays Running 39.2% #9 42.9% #17

Compared to last year, Schaub is playing about as well as he did in 2010 when the Texans finished at 6-10. He is passing at the same rate, and along with the running backs, have held on to the ball. They have improved their protection of him and have run the ball more and controlled the clock. This has been aided by their dramatic improvement on defense. Last year, they were the second worst pass defense. This year, they are the third best. They didn’t get turnovers last year. This year, they are. And they have become one of the best at sacking the opposing QB after a below average performance last year.

As a result of their overall improvement on both sides of the ball, teams are falling behind and are forced to throw the ball. Opponents can no longer control tempo on offense. The Texans have benefited from an easy schedule (opponents have a projected .461 winning percentage) but have an overall projected winning percentage of .871.

Sitting atop the AFC South with a 5-3 record, the Texans are one of the most underachieving teams given their underlying stats, but they will likely cruise into the playoffs and be a difficult out for any team given both their strengths and lack of weaknesses.

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