This playoff game is one of the more unique battles, as Houston is lacking playoff experience, as well as Matt Shaub. But with this post we’re going to introduce mods to the code we presented in our previous article, to allow us to set relative bounds on strength of schedule. The SOS effect has a large relative error, about 80%, so what happens to the odds in this matchup when we do exactly that?
Bengals: Playoff Exp 2 yrs ago, Away, SOS = -0.85, Pythagorean = 54.1%
Texans: No Playoffs ever, Home, SOS = -1.90, Pythagorean = 69.5%
Plugging these numbers into my formula, you get CIN favored by 66%. On the low end of the SOS relative, you get CIN favored by 60% and at the high end, CIN favored by 71%. Given that 68% is what you get from playoff experience proper, the effect of Houston’s better record (and thus HFA) is roughly cancelled out by CIN’s better SOS.
So why isn’t Houston favored more, given their powerful offense? As stated previously, offensive metrics aren’t predictive to p = 0.05, more like p = 0.15 or so. Further, Houston had the easiest schedule in all of football. Cinncinnati also had an easy one, but not the easiest one.