Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens: Defensive Slugfests Have Favored the Home Team

Make no mistake about today’s Houston-Baltimore game, if you have a pre-conceived notion about the Texans because they are from humid Houston and don’t have a lengthy history of defensive football–this is going to be a defensive slugfest. Both of these teams can claim excellent pass defenses, while the pass offenses are more middling. The loss of Schaub has dropped the Texans passing offense a lot, while the Ravens and Joe Flacco have been inconsistent, looking like world beaters some games, and incompetent in others.

This is the last of four features on the divisional matchups, where I look at similar postseason games in the Divisional Round since 1990, by looking at the underlying rate stats, power ranking, and record of the home and road teams. The full methodology is in the first post about the Saints-49ers matchup, and Denver-New England and NY Giants-Green Bay have also been profiled.

This matchup has more “similar” games than all the others combined. These teams have 12 wins and 10 wins, respectfully, so they are a lot like a host of other playoff teams. They are built around top passing defenses, good rushing games on offense, and decent but not spectacular passing games. Given how close the two teams are (Baltimore’s Simple Rating System rating is only 1.6 points better than Houston for the year), I would have expected the playoff results to be closer. As it turns out, the home team has fared pretty well in these bouts.







Five of the six most similar games involved a Pittsburgh Steelers team between 1994 and 2001. The one that different featured Bill Parcells’ Giants against Ditka’s Bears. The early ’00’s Eagles teams also show up three times on the list. Despite these often being matchups that appeared to be close heading in, the home team won 8 out of the 10 games, by an average margin of 11.5 points.

Weighting the results by giving the most similar more weight, the average result is 22.3 points for the Baltimore comps and only 8.5 points for the Houston comps. The real play here might be the Under. It is at a low 36.5, but the average total in the similar matchups has been only 32.9 points, with the losing team scoring 13 or fewer points in 9 of the 10 matchups.

[photo via Getty]

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