2016: The Year of Watt

J.J. Watt will have his biggest year ever in 2016. He will break the sack record, lead his team into the playoffs, and win his 4thDefensive POY. He will also win MVP.

Bold predictions, right? Maybe not.

Thursday, April 14th, marked the release of NFL schedules; obviously including the Houston Texans. The Texans have a current strength of schedule that is tied for 19 at 0.484. That’s potentially good news for the Texans as a team, and likely J.J. too.

A favorable strength of schedule is no where near enough to base a prediction as bold as MegaWatt becoming the second defensive player in NFL history to win MVP, joining the elite company of the only other 3x DPOY, Lawrence Taylor. S.o.S. does, however, provide some indication that Houston has a high chance to make the playoffs. A major argument against Watt winning MVP during his 2014 campaign was the Texans missing the postseason.

Digging deeper, the Texans and J.J. will be facing mainly bottom tier offensive lines. According to ProFootballFocus rankings of offensive lines in 2015, the Texans play 7 teams ranked 20 or worse, only 3 teams in the top 10 (6, 7, & 8), and the average O-line rank is 19.

The reigning best defensive player of the league will be squaring off with some of the worst competition in the NFL in 2016. Domination will ensue! Especially considering Watt is given the freedom to roam to exploit match-ups.

The argument gets more compelling: Watt played left defensive end 89% of the 2015 season, roaming the remaining 11%, taking advantage of match-ups. LDE lines up against the right offensive tackle, and for J.J. an extra TE or two.

According to Bleacher Report preseason rankings of ROTs, the average rank of ROTs J.J. will face using current depth charts is only 19! It should be noted several teams have yet to decide on the starter for this position, but 9 of 16 teams have determined their starter. The average rank of those ROTs is 13. This average is a bit skewed because two of the ROTs, M. Scwartz (KC from Clev) and B. Buluga (GB), ranked 1 and 4, respectively. Removing those two outliers, the average rank drops to just 17.

J.J. owns the AFC South, accumulating 52% (39 of a league leading 74.5 sacks since 2011) of his total sacks against AFC South teams. This makes sense as he squares off with these teams twice a year.

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Written by Josh Raudebaugh

Originally published at fanchi.se on April 17, 2016.

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