Nov 13, 2018
Nov 13, 2018

NFL Week 11 preview: Houston Texans at Washington Redskins

The race for divisional titles

Assessing the Texans

An in-depth look at the Washington Redskins

Where is the Value?

NFL Week 11 preview: Houston Texans at Washington Redskins

The Houston Texans travel to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Redskins in the pick of this week’s NFL fixtures. Looking for value in the NFL Week 11 odds? Read on to inform your NFL Week 11 predictions.

The race for divisional titles

The cyclical nature of the NFL is again being illustrated by the 2018 season. There are some familiar names from 2017 currently occupying the six playoff slots in the respective conferences, but there are also some fresh faces looking to prolong their campaign into January.

Kansas City, Pittsburgh and New England again head the race for divisional titles in the AFC and the LA Rams, Minnesota and New Orleans do likewise in the NFC, along with Carolina, who currently hold a wildcard slot from the strong South division.

Much less was expected from the current AFC 4th seed, Houston Texans, who languished as the 15th best team from 16 conference contenders last season and the NFC’s current fourth seeded Washington Redskins, who were also ranked amongst the also-rans in 12th in 2017.

The two teams meet in Washington on Sunday.

Assessing the Texans

Both Houston and Washington boast a 6-3 record. But it is Houston, coming off their bye week, who will be under most pressure to keep their six-game winning streak alive after Tennessee moved to within a win of them after Sunday’s unexpected win over New England.

The Texans only managed four wins in 2017, but underlying reasons suggested that they were and will be, a better team than their raw wins indicated.

Their points differential was more typical of a side that might have gathered 5.5 wins, they lost three more narrow games than they won and had to contend with a minus twelve turnover differential.

nly four other teams fared worse at gifting the ball away.

Most significantly, they welcome back quarterback, Deshaun Watson, who only made it onto the field as far as week 8, before a season ending injury, but had still contributed to three of Houston four victories.

Watson struggled on his return in week one, only connecting for half of his passes, but New England on the road is hardly an ideal reintroduction.

Houston then lost two more games, narrowly, but Watson has since confirmed the promise he showed prior to his torn ACL in Seattle.

Houston are averaging nearly a yard more per passing attempt, once the defensive capabilities of the opposition is allowed for. They are just good enough to sneak into the top dozen passing offenses.

The running game is well below par, they average nearly half a yard per carry less than par for the defenses they have faced and consequently, the offence has only scored one more point per game than expected.

The defensive side of the ball didn’t step up in Watson’s absence in 2017, but they are much improved so far in 2018.

They are good against the pass and very good against the run and opponents are finding the Texans a difficult team to score against, averaging nearly a field goal fewer points per game than they usually score.

An in-depth look at the Washington Redskins

Washington was a better team than Houston in 2017, winning seven times, but their record was particularly good in close games, winning four and losing just once. This isn’t a sustainable trait.

Their points scoring and conceding record was that of a seven-win team, exactly where they finished week 17.

Also, Houston’s record, as we’ve seen contains nine games where they had a backup quarterback in the lineup, when their passing performance rarely rose above league basement levels.

Therefore, the 2017 gap between the two teams was probably narrower than the raw win loss record implied.

Much like Houston, Washington’s passing numbers from 2017 and into 2018 come with a caveat.

Kirk Cousins ended his three years as undisputed starter in Washington with his least impressive return and Washington traded with Kansas City for Alex Smith.

The Texans only managed four wins in 2017, but underlying reasons suggested that they were and will be, a better team than their raw wins indicated.

Smith gained a reputation in KC for excelling in the regular season, but failing to shine in the post season. Double digit regular season wins were virtually the norm from 2013 onwards for Smith, but he managed just one post season victory.

2017 was Smith’s most efficient passing performance in KC, but he’s not repeated in Washington. They are passing, on average a yard less per attempt compared to the defenses they’ve faced, which isn’t even a top twenty level of achievement.

The running game is above par, but barely and they are averaging just 19.6 points per game against defenses that are conceding a hefty 25.9 points per game.

They’ve almost entirely reversed this trend on defence, allowing 19.4 points per game against usually prolific offenses. But their defensive efficiency, both against the pass and the run is only just better than the NFL average.

Consequently, they top the NFC East, but do so having scored just one more point than they have allowed.

Where is the value?

Matchups favour Houston’s defence against Washington’s offence and the hosts look likely to struggle moving the ball, while Houston should enjoy more success when they take to the air.

It’s difficult to split the two teams based on the points scored and allowed, with a total of around 40 points, but there are more questions about the sustainability of Washington’s performance than Houston’s.

The hosts currently have a plus 11 turnover differential and their defensive efficiencies don’t tally with their hugely impressive ability to keep points off the scoreboard.

Houston also have just had their bye week, so the visitors are taken to win by four.

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