If you are keeping track at home, Monday night’s victory makes 8 straight for the Houston Texans. This is directly on the heels of a season-opening 3-game losing streak that led many to count the Texans out before the calendar turned to October.
It is not often a team improves from 0-3 to 8-3. In fact, the Texans are the first team to ever do it.
Here is what their game-by-game breakdown looks like this season.
|Week||Opponent||HOU Line||Result, Score||ATS Result|
|1||@ NE||+6.5||L, 27-20||L|
|2||@ TEN||-2.5||L, 20-17||L|
|3||vs NYG||-6||L, 27-22||L|
|4||@ IND||+1||W, 37-34||W|
|5||vs DAL||-3.5||W, 19-16||L|
|6||vs BUF||-9.5||W, 20-13||L|
|7||@ JAX||+3.5||W, 20-7||W|
|8||vs MIA||-7.5||W, 42-23||W|
|9||@ DEN||+1||W, 19-17||W|
|11||@ WAS||-2.5||W, 23-21||L|
|12||vs TEN||-6||W, 34-17||W|
That Week 1 loss to the Pats is forgivable. New England is a stout opponent. Losses to Tennessee and then the lowly Giants are what had fans pessimistic.
It took OT, but Houston finally pulled one out in Week 4 against division opponent Indy and then repeated the performance against in-state rival Dallas in Week 5. It was not until Week 6 that Houston began to roll and win convincingly.
So who has been the key to this change of fortune?
Is Deshaun the Key?
With the amount of praise Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson gets, you would think he is a proven veteran in the NFL. It is easy to forget the 23-year-old kid has only played 18 NFL games over 2 seasons.
When you break down his 2018 numbers, there is a noticeable shift after Week 5, which is right when the Texans really picked up their play.
|Week||Opp||Pass Attempts||Comp %||Pass Yds||TD/INT||Pass Rating|
|1||@ NE||34||50%||176||1 / 1||62.9|
|2||@ TEN||32||68.8%||310||2 / 1||107.6|
|3||vs NYG||40||60%||385||2 / 1||98.4|
|4||@ IND||42||69.0%||375||2 / 1||102.8|
|5||vs DAL||44||75%||375||1 / 1||98.2|
|6||vs BUF||25||60%||177||1 / 2||61.6|
|7||@ JAX||24||50%||139||1 / 0||81.8|
|8||vs MIA||20||80%||239||5 / 0||156.0|
|9||@ DEN||24||70.8%||213||2 / 0||125.9|
|11||@ WAS||24||66.7%||208||1 / 2||72.9|
|12||vs TEN||24||79.2%||210||2 / 0||130.9|
|Average||30.3||66.1%||255.2||1.8 / 0.82||101.0|
|Wks 1-5||38.4||65.1%||324.2||1.6 / 1||94.0|
|Wks 6+||23.5||67.4%||197.7||2 / 0.67||104.9|
This shift is the opposite of what I expected. The Texans really began to click when they cut back on Deshaun’s workload. He went from 40+ pass attempts in 3 straight games to never passing more than 25 times from the Buffalo game onward.
One major detriment to Watson throwing the ball so many times was interceptions. Notice how he threw a pick in each of the first 5 games. After his workload was reduced, he has only thrown picks in 2 of the team’s 6 games.
While you can overcome turnovers and still win games, it is much easier to win when you take care of the ball for 60 minutes.
Lamar Miller Since Week 6
No one has benefited more from Watson’s reduced workload than running back Lamar Miller. While Watson was chucking it 40 times per game, Miller was unable to reach the 100-yard mark. Since Week 6, Miller has rushed for 100 yards on 3 separate occasions.
|Week||Opp.||Rush Attempts||Yds/Att||Rush Yds||TD|
* DNP vs Cowboys due to injury
The Texans’ offense now has balance. Miller has received a few more touches per game and has put up a couple of monster performances after Week 5.
Notice how before the change he did not score a single touchdown, rush for 100 yards, or ever average over 5 yards per carry. This Texans’ offense is now multidimensional and very difficult to stop.
Is Houston Legit?
Before we hand the Texans the Lombardi Trophy we need to remember that the combined record of the teams Houston has beaten this year is 34-43 and only 2 of those teams currently have winning records.
Houston’s balanced offensive attack could present problems in the postseason. If nothing else, their depth of options will make them a difficult team to blowout, meaning they could stick around and have a chance to win a game late.
Unfortunately, Houston’s remaining schedule is rather weak and we will not have an opportunity to see them perform against playoff-caliber competition.
Up next for the Texans is a fiesty Browns squad on a small 2-game winning streak of their own.