Posted: Tuesday September 18, 2012 11:44AM ; Updated: Tuesday September 18, 2012 11:44AM
Kerry J. Byrne
Kerry J. Byrne>COLD HARD FOOTBALL FACTS

Inside the numbers: Week 2

Story Highlights

Texans are elite in many indicators that typically lead to Super Bowl success so far

Houston has outscored opponents by 40 points so far this season, best in league

Robert Griffin III was the only rookie QB who regressed from Week 1 to Week 2

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J.J. Watt
J.J. Watt has been a terror for the Texans early in his second year.
Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

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 Quality Stats Power Rankings, an across-the-board measure of how each team stacks up in more than a dozen different indicators, each of which has a direct correlation to winning football games. Teams that top this indicator contend for and win Super Bowls.

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.

Scoring defense (No. 1) -- At the end of the day, scoring is the only stat that really matters. Houston has surrendered only 17 points, a touchdown better than No. 2 San Diego.

Third-down defense (No. 1) -- Houston's opponents have converted just 2 of 19 attempts, a ridiculous rate of 10.5 percent that's easily the best in the league. Opponents are also 0 for 3 on fourth down.

Bendability (No. 1) -- This is a measure of defensive efficiency that quantifies the "bend but don't break" phenomenon. It tells us how hard opponents must work for every point scored. Houston's opponents must march 23.1 Yards Per Point Scored -- or the equivalent of 162 yards just to produce a touchdown and extra point. That's a demoralizing number.

Defensive Real Passing Yards Per Attempt (No. 1) -- Houston's two opponents have averaged a dreadful 3.94 YPA each time they dropped back to pass. "Real" passing YPA includes the impact of sacks, giving a truer measure of actual performance.

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.

Defensive Passer Rating/Defensive Real QB Rating (No. 2) -- Defensive Passer Rating merely applies the formula for quarterbacks to pass defense. Defensive Real QB Rating is a similar measure, but includes the impact of sacks, rushing yards and fumbles by quarterbacks.

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.

The Defensive Hog Index (No. 2) -- This is our measure of each team's defensive front in several key areas. Houston is No. 2 on the DHI, behind only Chicago.

Negative Pass Play % (No. 3) -- We rate each team's pass rush by the percentage of opponent dropbacks that end in a sack or INT. Houston has already forced nine Negative Pass Plays (6 sacks, 3 INT) in 63 dropbacks (14.3 percent). Teams that pressure the passer win Super Bowls.

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.

Quality Stats Power Rankings

The Cold, Hard Football Facts Power Rankings are built upon our Quality Stats -- those indicators that have a direct correlation to winning football games. The top teams from each conference have a habit of ending up in the Super Bowl.

Here's the Top 10 after Week 2. We'll give intermittent updates throughout the season as teams jockey for statistical position.

1. Houston (2-0) -- The Texans ended the 2011 season No. 1 and are back on top after Week 2 of the 2012 season.

2. Atlanta (2-0) -- Matt Ryan leads the NFL in Real Quarterback Rating (116.1), with six total TDs and zero turnovers.

3. San Diego (2-0) -- The Chargers shot up seven spots in one week, after their dominant 38-10 win over the Titans.

4. Baltimore (1-1) -- The Ravens fell apart in the second half vs. the Eagles and fell from their No. 1 perch. They're living on the statistical laurels of their dominant Week 1 win over the Bengals at No. 4 overall.

5. St. Louis (1-1) -- Sam Bradford is a surprising No. 4 in Real Quarterback Rating. The Rams ended the 2011 season No. 31 in our Quality Stats Power Rankings.

6. San Francisco (2-0) -- A prime position considering the 49ers faced two tough opponents so far. This well-oiled victory machine will climb higher as the schedule gets easier.

7. New England (1-1) -- The long-time masters of situational football were outdone on Sunday: the Patriots won all the statistical battles against the Cardinals, but lost the game.

8. Green Bay (1-1) -- The Packers are the week's hottest team, leaping 11 spots after embarrassing the Bears on Thursday night.

9. Arizona (2-0) -- Wow! That's three of the top nine out of the NFC West, the 90-pound weakling of NFL divisions since the realignment of 2002.

10. Philadelphia (2-0) -- The Eagles have won back-to-back games while committing nine turnovers by making life miserable on opposing QBs.

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 Live Ball Era (since 1978).

Sign of the apocalypse in New England

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 "Captain Comeback" Scott Kacsmar, who tracks the entire history of game-winning scores, drives and comebacks for CHFF and ProFootballReference.com.

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.

Rookie QB Report: Regression to the mean

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.

Brandon Weeden: +109.8 (5.1 to 114.9)
Andrew Luck: +54.6 (52.9 to 107.5)
Ryan Tannehill: +52.0 (39.0 to 91.0)
Russell Wilson: +50.2 (62.5 to 112.7)
Griffin III: -53.6 (139.9 to 86.3)

QB Week Comp. Attempts Comp. % Yards YPA TD INT Rating
RGIII Week 1 19 26 73.1 320 12.3 2 0 139.9
RGIII Week 2 20 29 69.0 206 7.1 1 1 86.3
                   
Luck Week 1 23 45 51.1 309 6.9 1 3 52.9
Luck Week 2 20 31 64.5 224 7.2 2 0 107.5
                   
Weeden Week 1 12 35 34.3 118 3.4 0 4 5.1
Weeden Week 2 26 37 70.3 322 8.7 2 0 114.9
                   
Tannehill Week 1 20 36 55.6 219 6.1 0 3 39.0
Tannehill Week 2 18 30 60.0 200 6.7 1 0 91.0
                   
Wilson Week 1 18 34 52.9 153 4.5 1 1 62.5
Wilson Week 2 15 20 75.0 151 7.6 1 0 112.7

 
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