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Are the Texans The Worst 6-3 Team Ever?

Regular readers are familiar with Pythagenpat Records, and using them to see how much of an outlier teams are in a given season.

You can read the link for background information, but here is the quick summary.

The Texans have scored 161 points and allowed 188 in 9 games this year. We use this formula to determine the appropriate exponent for Texans games:

(Points Scored + Points Allowed)/(Games Played)^0.251

This helps to control for things like pace of games, and scoring frequency. For Houston, that exponent is 2.50. Then, we use that to calculate the team’s Pythagenpat Record using this formula:

(Points Scored ^ 2.50) / (Points Scored ^ 2.50 + Points Allowed ^ 2.50)

For the Texans, that translates to a 0.404 winning percentage. In reality, at 6-3, Houston has a 0.667 winning percentage, so the Texans have exceeded expectations by 0.263. That’s the most in the NFL this year, with Oakland (0.563 Pythagenpat, 0.778 actual, 0.215 difference), the Giants (0.493, 0.667, 0.174), Kansas City (0.624, 0.778, 0.154) and Dallas (0.750, 0.889, 0.139) rounding out the top five.1

So is Houston the worst 6-3 team ever? The beauty of using Pythagnepat records is we need not limit ourselves to just 6-3 teams; we can ask whether Houston has overachieved by the most of any team through nine games. Let’s look at all teams from 1950 to 2015.2 Here are the biggest overachievers through nine games:

RkTeamYearPointsPoints AllowedPythagActDiff
1OAK19761951840.5370.8890.352
2IND20062491890.6751.0000.325
3NOR19731002170.1310.4440.314
4CAR20152551750.7301.0000.270
5IND1992991860.1820.4440.262
6SDG19871921550.6310.8890.258
7CIN19862092390.4120.6670.255
8PIT19891232200.1900.4440.254
9DEN19921481700.4160.6670.251
10SFO19902221440.7501.0000.250
11PHI19521711950.4180.6670.249
12NYJ20131692310.3080.5560.248
13ATL20041941840.5340.7780.244
14CHI19911471380.5380.7780.240
15MIN20002172040.5400.7780.237
16WAS19511322240.2090.4440.235
17CHI19681672220.3250.5560.231
18TAM20101882060.4410.6670.225
19CAR20031781630.5550.7780.223
20ARI20142231700.6680.8890.221
21RAI19822602000.6690.8890.220
22PHI19602421850.6700.8890.219
23GNB19701532000.3380.5560.218
24IND20121862010.4500.6670.216
25SFO19581612560.2290.4440.216
26PIT19622032590.3420.5560.214
27JAX20041511630.4540.6670.213
28JAX20101962500.3430.5560.212
29TEN19991901710.5660.7780.212
30NWE19841952090.4550.6670.212
31SFO20012272040.5700.7780.208
32NYG19651462300.2390.4440.206
33ARI19981541970.3500.5560.205
34WAS19622012130.4620.6670.204
35DEN19791371460.4620.6670.204
36SFO20061622510.2420.4440.203
37WAS20011282030.2420.4440.202
38DEN20071532380.2430.4440.202
39NYG19771111780.2450.4440.200
40SEA20061891990.4670.6670.200
41.5KAN19931641440.5780.7780.200
41.5RAM19861641440.5780.7780.200
43BUF19831731820.4680.6670.199
44DET19911751840.4680.6670.198
45DAL19701461850.3580.5560.198
46MIN19832152250.4700.6670.197
47RAM19692521460.8041.0000.196
48KAN20111412180.2500.4440.195
49PHI20031591660.4740.6670.193
50STL19821351700.3640.5560.192
51NOR20093311970.8091.0000.191
52DEN19681472240.2550.4440.189
53NWE19711502280.2550.4440.189
54CHI19621732140.3670.5560.189
55STL19752161880.5890.7780.189
56MIA19991921660.5910.7780.187
57IND20092521420.8151.0000.185
58DAL19611412140.2590.4440.185
59CLE19761752150.3700.5560.185
60NYT19611942370.3710.5560.185
61PHI19951762160.3710.5560.185
62MIA20011801850.4830.6670.184
63WAS19862121830.5940.7780.184
64GNB20113201860.8161.0000.184
65PHO19911151770.2630.4440.182
66TAM20111562330.2630.4440.182
67ATL19951931970.4870.6670.180
68BUF19881991390.7090.8890.180
69MIN19972091790.5980.7780.179
70JAX20091812200.3760.5560.179
71TEN20001811250.7100.8890.179
72NYJ19862441730.7110.8890.178
73CLE19652392050.6010.7780.177
74MIN20051542280.2680.4440.177
75HOU19792032060.4900.6670.176
76DEN19983001690.8251.0000.175
77CIN19752021400.7140.8890.175
78DET19531971670.6030.7780.175
79OAK19981561580.4920.6670.174
80BUF19971601940.3810.5560.174
81ATL20122471740.7150.8890.174
82PHI19962111790.6040.7780.173
83NWE20031841550.6050.7780.173
84TEN20082201170.8271.0000.173
85DAL19812141810.6070.7780.171
86NWE20153031690.8291.0000.171
87BAL19781202300.1640.3330.170
88BUF19741911600.6090.7780.169
89NYG19591671390.6090.7780.168
90SEA20101661990.3870.5560.168
91BUF19912671870.7220.8890.167
92WAS19821901280.7240.8890.164
93KAN20132151110.8361.0000.164
94PHI1971882070.1140.2780.164
95DET19771101640.2810.4440.164
96BAL19831661970.3930.5560.162
97SFO19671922260.3950.5560.161
98HOU19882152130.5060.6670.161
99NYJ1976762330.0620.2220.161
100MIN1973189940.8401.0000.160

At 0.263 above expectation, Houston would be the 5th biggest overachiever since 1950. And at 0.404, the Texans have the worst Pythagenpat winning percentage of any team to win at least 2/3 of their games through 9 games:

RkTeamYearpointspoints_oppPythagActDiff
1CIN19862092390.4120.6670.255
2DEN19921481700.4160.6670.251
3PHI19521711950.4180.6670.249
4TAM20101882060.4410.6670.225
5IND20121862010.4500.6670.216
6JAX20041511630.4540.6670.213
7NWE19841952090.4550.6670.212
8WAS19622012130.4620.6670.204
9DEN19791371460.4620.6670.204
10SEA20061891990.4670.6670.200
11BUF19831731820.4680.6670.199
12DET19911751840.4680.6670.198
13MIN19832152250.4700.6670.197
14PHI20031591660.4740.6670.193
15MIA20011801850.4830.6670.184
16ATL19951931970.4870.6670.180
17HOU19792032060.4900.6670.176
18OAK19981561580.4920.6670.174

So to answer today’s question…. it sure seems like it. Or, at least the worst 6-3 team since the 1936 Steelers.

  1. The Browns, Bills, Eagles, Panthers, and Cardinals are in the bottom five. []
  2. Note that the 1936 Steelers were 6-3 through 9 games, with a 89/115 points scored/allowed differential; that was even worse than Houston! []
  • Is there a reason why 2016 HOU isn’t in either of the tables?

  • Richie

    2 Super Bowl winners at the top of the first chart. 2 more Super Bowl losers in it as well.

    Just shows how important wins are (duh!).

    • Adam

      Yep, regression to the mean doesn’t erase the lucky wins you’ve already banked!

    • This and it also goes to show that really good teams can still overachieve. The Panthers might have been “lucky” to be 9-0 last season, but they were most likely still the best team in the NFC.

  • Adam

    I’m picking the Titans to win the division. Heavy regression to the mean feels imminent for the Texans.

    • Assuming 10 wins will take the division, that means TEN needs to win 5 of their last 6 games. HOU only has to win 4 of their last 7.

      If 9 games win the division, that means TEN needs to go 4-2, HOU needs to go 3-4, and IND needs to go 5-2.

      TEN can help themselves tremendously by beating both HOU and IND later in the season, but they have two seemingly tough games versus DEN and at KC. Week 17 vs HOU might decide the division champ.

      HOU has OAK, SD, GNB, and CIN left, and I could see any of those games get out of hand fast.

      Meanwhile, BUF will probably be better than any AFC South team and miss the playoffs entirely.

      • Adam

        I expect 9 wins will be enough, and TEN will beat HOU and IND along the way. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Texans collapse and finish 2-5 or 1-6; their smoke and mirror act can only last so long.

        • My two most successful models for predicting wins disagree with each other here. ODS Score give HOU 8.0 estimated wins and TEN 8.5. It favors TEN in 4 of 6 games, while HOU is not favored in any.

          On the other hand, SOS-adjusted Pythagenpat gives HOU 9.2 wins and TEN 8.3. TEN is still favored in 4 games, but HOU is now favored against JAX.

          Those two stats see them as in intrinsically 4.2-6.7 (HOU) and 7.7-8.0 (TEN) win teams.

  • I gave them short shrift in the article, but man those 1936 Steelers!

    • The 1936 Steelers were the Leroy Hoard of franchises. If you needed seven points, they’d get you 10. If you needed 43 points, they’d get you 10.

  • Houston is 0-2 since this article. Not exactly disproving things.