You may or may not have read Joe Fortenbaugh’s article at the National Football Post about the curse of the 10-win comeback season, but here’s the CliffsNotes version:
Teams that came back from a 7-9 season or worse to post 10 wins or more have followed up their bounce-back season with a 9-7 record or worse 26 of 29 times since 2002. (They’ve also gone under their season win total 76.9 percent of the time.)
Three teams fit that criteria in 2012:
- San Francisco 49ers: 6-10 in 2010; 13-3 in 2011.
- Detroit Lions: 6-10 in 2010; 10-6 in 2011.
- Houston Texans: 6-10 in 2010; 10-6 in 2011.
The stats would indicate at least two of those teams are headed for 9-7 records or worse in 2012, and ESPN’s Colin Cowherd thinks he has pegged the pair—the Texans and Lions.
If you believe him, that’s relevant from a betting perspective considering the Lions win total is at 9.5 and the Texans can be found as high as 10.5.
But Cowherd’s analysis of Houston seemed arbitrary at best.
“They lost real leaders on the defensive side, and I still don’t know if they have an elite head coach.”
They lost “real leaders” on the defensive side? The natural assumption is he’s talking mostly about defensive end Mario Williams, the former No. 1 overall pick who signed with the Buffalo Bills in the offseason.
Williams was absolutely a difference-maker, but let’s not forget that he was injured for the final 11 games of the 2012 regular season and missed the team’s two playoff games. With younger playmakers like Brian Cushing (114 tackles), Connor Barwin (11.5 sacks) and J.J. Watt (nine tackles for loss), the defense survived just fine without Williams.
Houston also traded linebacker DeMeco Ryans to the Eagles, but his production had fallen off a bit after a strong four-year start to his career. Ryans—a two-time Pro Bowler—only garnered a fourth-round pick in return.
Plus, the Texans restocked at linebacker by signing Bradie James from the Cowboys and adding first-round pass rusher Whitney Mercilus, who led the country in sacks (16) last season as a junior at Illinois.
And while Cowherd might doubt the aptitude of head coach Gary Kubiak, he conveniently avoided acknowledging how much of a difference Wade Phillips made at defensive coordinator. Phillips’ 3-4 scheme had an immediate impact, and now he’s back for Year 2.
Sure, the Texans could fall off in 2012. Despite playing in the weakest division in football, it’s still the NFL and anything can happen.
But it’s doubtful the up-and-coming defense will be the cause of their downfall.
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Colin Cowherd’s podcast at ESPN can be found by clicking here.