Inside the numbers: Week 2
Don't mess with the Texans.
It's just two weeks into the 2012 season, but Houston has wasted no time re-asserting the dominance it displayed in 2011, before quarterback Matt Schaub's injury hijacked the team's statistically inevitable run to the AFC crown.
Houston ended the 2011 season No. 1 in the Cold, Hard Football.com Facts
They are No. 1 again today.
The 2011 performance was a rather impressive display of statistical muscle, given the fact the team played the final six games with rookie QB T.J. Yates. He was overwhelmed in the playoff loss to Baltimore (49 percent, 0 TD, 3 INT).
The 2012 Texans boast a healthy Schaub, highly productive ground game and suffocating defense -- the same formula that made Houston so dangerous last year.
They look even deadlier this year, at least through two games.
Houston is 2-0 after a pair of one-sided wins over the Miami Dolphins and (30-10) and Jacksonville Jaguars (27-7). The +40 scoring differential is already the best in football.
Dolphins rookie Ryan Tannehill was overwhelmed in his debut (0 TD, 3 INT, 39.0 rating) against Houston. He played perfectly well against the Raiders a week later (1 TD, 0 INT, 91.0 rating).
Jaguars second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert gave a breakout performance in Week 1 against the Vikings: the 96.1 rating was the best in his brief career. He was reduced to statistical tears against Houston: 37 percent completions, a dreadful 2.8 YPA, and 62.8 rating.
Houston held Jacksonville to 117 yards of offense, the lowest output in Jaguars history. Or, put in a positive way, the greatest defensive performance in Texans history.
It's the tremendous defense of coordinator Wade Phillips which will ultimately lead Houston to the Super Bowl.
His unit's scary collection of talented young linebackers and pass rushers is led by J.J. Watt. Phillips boldly declared this summer that the second-year defensive end will earn a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Watt was brilliant in the 2011 postseason with 3.5 sacks and a pick-6 in two games. He's picked up right where he left off in 2012: 1.5 sacks in each of his first two games, plus five passes defended. He batted down two Gabbert passes on Sunday.
But NFL games are won by teams, not by individuals, no matter how talented. Team-wide defense gives the Texans a frighteningly good competitive advantage in 2012 when measured by our Cold, Hard Football Facts Quality Stats.
For a little perspective, 19 teams so far surrender a higher average on the ground than Houston does through the air -- including the Texans themselves (4.4 YPA). Scary good.
Each has a huge correlation to Super Bowl success throughout history. The Texans are No. 2 in each case (behind Philadelphia) with a DPR of 49.96 and DQBR of 38.90.
There are tougher games ahead. The Texans visit Peyton Manning and Denver on Sunday, and still have games against Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and Tom Brady. But the schedule of opposing offenses is not particularly tough, and Houston's defense looks like it will be devastatingly dominant.
Here's the Top 10 after Week 2. We'll give intermittent updates throughout the season as teams jockey for statistical position.
Philly's 35.1 Defensive Passer Rating puts the Eagles on an early (very early) pace for one of the best performances since World War II and best in the
The Patriots lost by blowing a game-winning field goal for the first time in 13 years Sunday, when Stephen Gostkowski shanked a 42-yard attempt wide left at the end of regulation against the Cardinals at Gillette Stadium.
You have to go back to Dec. 26, 1999, in a loss to Buffalo, to find the last time the Patriots went down to defeat because their kicker whiffed, according to
Pete Carroll was New England's coach back then, Tom Brady was getting ready to lead Michigan into the Orange Bowl against Alabama and Adam Vinatieri was a legend only in his mother's eyes.
He missed two shots to deliver the Patriots to victory that day, one at the end of regulation, and another in overtime.
Sunday marked the first time Brady lost a game because his kicker missed a clutch boot. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have each lost six games in their careers because kickers muffed shots at victory.
Robert Griffin III learned pro football's harshest lesson on Sunday: life changes fast in the Not For Long League.
Fans were ready to carve his bust in Canton after Week 1. He was Just Another Guy in Week 2. RGIII averaged 7.1 YPA with 1 TD, 1 INT and an 86.3 rating -- all average numbers -- while being outgunned by Sam Bradford in a 31-28 loss at St. Louis.
Meanwhile, the four other rookie quarterbacks, all of whom looked dreadful in Week 1, each improved dramatically in Week 2. Each produced passer ratings of at least 50 points better than their Week 1 performances.
RGIII was the only one who regressed in Week 2.
Here's how the five rookies stacked up in Week 2, based upon the difference in their passer rating from Week 1 to Week 2. Complete stats are below.