Saturday, December 26, 2009

Week 16 vs. Texans Prediction

Like last week, let's get right into this week's prediction post with an email from a reader:

If I remember correctly the Dolphins have a losing record against the Texans. Which is the better offense? Which is the better defense? What do the Dolphins need to do to win?

You're right that the Dolphins have a losing record against the Texans. In fact, Miami has never beaten them in the four times the two teams have been matched up with one another.

Miami will need to get their first win against this franchise if they want to entertain any slim playoff hopes past this weekend.

As far as offenses go, while Miami's offense is decent, Houston's can be quite scary at times - when they aren't turning the ball over. And Houston's offense does turn the ball over a lot. They are 24th in the NFL when it comes to turnovers per drive, at 0.164. Of course, Miami is not that much better, sitting at 0.154 TOs/drive.

Houston's offense is also incredibly one-dimensional. Their passing offense has a ridiculously good 43.7% DVOA, while their rushing offense is an abysmal -12.3% DVOA. But that passing attack is so lethal that it can make up for the rushing deficiencies. So I would say that Houston has the better overall offense, but Miami's ground attack is stronger than Houston's.

As far as defenses go, both teams have a very similar DVOA - Miami at 3.8% and Houston at 5.4%. But if you look at Weighted DVOA, which discounts earlier games as less important to current success, you'll see that Houston's defense is playing slightly better than Miami's - 3.6% for Miami compared to -1.4% for Houston. (Remember, when it comes to defense, negative DVOA is better). Houston's defense has a particular deficiency defending against the pass, while they are decent at stopping the run. The Texans pass defense struggles most noticeably against opposing teams #1 and #2 WRs in addition to tight ends. Surprisingly, they are also the best defense in the league at defending running backs in the passing game.

In the end, I'd give the slightest edge to Houston's defense.

In order to win this game, Miami will have to do two things. 1) Run a pass-oriented offense. They can't let Chad Henne's copious amount of interceptions in recent weeks deter them from going after Houston's glaring weakness on defense. And 2) The offense needs to reverse its habit of turning the ball over so frequently.

I'm torn on how this game will turn out, but I'm ultimately picking the Texans to win. My season record predicting the Dolphins is 9-5.

Last week's loss to the Titans slashed Miami's playoff chances to 8.9%

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