NFL fans everywhere were elated to see the new NFL schedule come out for the 2020 season. There is hope among fans that we will see all 17 weeks played out despite COVID-19 effecting every sport’s seasons. Houston Texans fans could feel the same way as they try to move on from a tough offseason. The schedule might not have helped.
Houston went into the schedule release knowing that it was going to be a tough schedule. They ranked tied for eighth in the NFL in strength of schedule at .518 winning percentage of opponents in 2019. What they couldn’t have imagined is how tough the first seven weeks of the season will be for the team. A strong second half from the team though, could push them back into the playoffs.
Houston Texans Week 1-3: AFC Powerhouses
The team knew they would have a tough road to the playoffs, but week one through three is going to be a juggernaut. Kansas City, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh combined for 34 wins last season alone. Two made runs in the playoffs with the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl. This is not what the team had in mind for September.
Week One: Texans at Chiefs, Thursday at 7:20 pm CST
A primetime game to start the season is never a bad thing. The game is mostly for Kansas City to celebrate one last time being the Super Bowl champs before the season gets underway. It’s an opportunity for Houston to go into Arrowhead Stadium and pull off an upset. The new-look offense with David Johnson, Brandin Cooks, and Randall Cobb should give fans an idea of how the season will go. It’s Deshaun Watson’s opportunity to prove to be an elite quarterback and put the team on his back. The defense will need to step up and stop Patrick Mahomes and the high powered Chiefs offense.
Week Two: Ravens at Texans, Sunday at 3:25 pm CST
Lamar Jackson comes into Houston’s first regular-season home game with confidence after the stellar season he had last year. The Texans will need to get off to a fast start and need to come up with wins either between Kansas City or Baltimore. A win against two of the best teams in the NFL could go a long way on how the season turns out. This game could end up being a shootout as both offenses have the weapons to put up points.
Week Three: Texans at Steelers, Sunday at Noon CST
This is the first game of the year, where Houston should be the favorites to win the contest. While Pittsburgh is always tough at home with Big Ben quarterbacking, Houston has more talent on offense than Pittsburgh. The defense could be the key in the game by figuring out who can make more stops. Pittsburgh has more ability on defense, but the question comes with if they have enough to stop Houston. JJ Watt could explode for a big game pressuring Ben Roethlisberger all game long.
Houston Texans Week 4-10: No Fall Break
Good news for Houston during week four through week seven is three of four games are at home. The bad news: they have three playoff teams from 2019 on the schedule. It’s again another tough stretch for the team, but if they can survive through the bye week at .500, the rest of the season could look good.
Week Four: Vikings at Texans, Sunday at Noon CST
Houston returns home for two straight games as they focus on beating Minnesota. The Vikings aren’t as strong of a team as they were last year without Stefon Diggs on the roster. Kirk Cousins bounced back nicely last season, leading Minnesota to the divisional round of the playoffs. If the front four on defensive line Houston can rattle Cousins early, it could be a win for Houston on their home turf.
Week Five: Jaguars at Texans, Sunday at Noon CST
Jacksonville has struggled to bounce back from their AFC Title loss to New England two seasons ago. Gardner Minshew is the expected starter at quarterback as a young offense surrounds him. Houston should be heavily favored in this game as they are more talented overall than the Jaguars. Deshaun Watson could be in for a big game against a subpar secondary.
Week Six: Texans at Titans, Sunday at Noon CST
Houston is back on the road against their divisional rivals in Tennessee. The Titans brought back most of the team that went to the AFC Championship game last season. Questions surround whether Ryan Tannehill can pick up from his successful 2019 campaign as Tennessee’s quarterback. Houston took one of two games against Tennessee last season, and that was on the road. The win against Tennessee in week 15 helped get them into the playoffs.
Week Seven: Packers at Texans, Sunday at Noon CST
Green Bay comes into Houston just before the Texans enter their bye week. While many questions are surrounding the Packers’ offense and Aaron Rodgers’ future, Green Bay was a 13 win team in 2019. There should be no overlooking the Packers in this contest. Green Bay will rely heavily on the running game, which Houston ranked 25th in rush defense last year. If Houston can’t contain Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillion, the Texans might go into the bye week with a loss over their heads.
Week Nine: Texans at Jaguars, Sunday at Noon CST
Despite this game being on the road, this is the perfect game for Houston to play after the bye week. The Texans defeated Jacksonville twice last season, and it should honestly be the same result. Last season, Houston beat Jacksonville 26-3 on the road, and it could look the same. With all the new weapons on offense gelling together by this time, the offense should be able to produce plenty of scoring.
Week Ten: Texans at Browns, Sunday at Noon CST
This game might be one of the biggest toss-ups all year as Houston doesn’t know what they will get out of Cleveland. Odell Beckham Jr. is expecting himself to have one of the best seasons of his career. Cleveland went through more coaching changes in the offseason, so this season could go either way. Houston should expect the Browns to deliver points with all the talent Baker Mayfield has around him. Fans could be in for another shootout between two very talented offenses.
Houston Texans Week 11-17: Winter’s Coming
Down the stretch, Houston’s schedule is looking much better than it did at the beginning of the season. Only two of the remaining seven teams made the playoffs in 2019. A keynote here is Houston will once again play a home game against Tennessee at the end of the season. It could be the game that determines who wins the AFC South.
Week 11: Patriots at Texans, Sunday at Noon CST
Tom Brady is gone. Bill Belichick has proven in the past that New England can win games without Brady at quarterback. This will be the first full season in two decades that Belichick doesn’t have Brady leading the team. It’s another toss-up game as no one knows if the Patriots will be competitive this season or not. With Houston being at home, it should be safe to say that the Texans will be the favorites to win the game. Don’t forget New England’s defense had a strong 2019 season and could be the key to a Patriots’ win.
Week 12: Texans at Lions, Thursday at 11:30 am CST
It’s a short week for Houston as they play on Thanksgiving against the Lions. Detroit appears to have many questions themselves as Matthew Stafford needs to stay healthy for the team to be competitive. Houston should be favored in this game as Watson could be in for a big performance on the national stage. This will be the fifth time these two teams have played with Houston leading the series at 3-1. It’s also the second time Houston plays Detroit on Thanksgiving with the Texans winning in 2012 34-31 in overtime.
Week 13: Colts at Texans, Sunday at Noon CST
Two of the next three weeks feature division rivals Colts playing Houston with the first game at home for the Texans. Both contests last season were close games with each team getting a win at home. Philip Rivers has entered into the picture for Indianapolis, leading the franchise for at least this season. The Colts could be in the running for a playoff spot as the team did improve on defense with DeForrest Buckner and Xavier Rhodes joining the team. These won’t be easy games for Houston, but they are winnable games.
Week 14: Texans at Bears, Sunday at Noon CST
Houston rolls into the windy city with hopes of continuing their playoff push. Whether Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky will be at quarterback, Houston should be favored to win this game. Chicago’s offense is inconsistent, and the defense had a down season for their standards. Watson might have some trouble with Khalil Mack on the other side pressuring him, but Houston’s offense should get in the 20s in points. If Houston’s defense can create at least two turnovers, it should be enough for them to win.
Week 15: Texans at Colts, December 19th or 20th
Houston and Indianapolis are back at it again. This time, the Texans are on the road playing the Colts. With only three weeks left, no doubt, this will be a massive game for both teams as they make their final push for the playoffs. Houston will most likely be in the driver’s seat for a Wild Card or AFC South title, so it’s a big game for them. A win would be huge for Houston as they focus on their matchup with the Titans.
Week 16: Bengals at Texans, Sunday at Noon CST
This has disaster written all over it. For Cincinnati, they could easily get blown out on the road as they are expected to not be in the playoff hunt. Houston might be overlooking Cincinnati to try to get to a Week 17 showdown with Tennessee. Should Houston lose this game, they will lose all momentum and could spell trouble for the next week. The good news for the Texans is they are home for the last two games of the season.
Week 17: Titans at Texans, Sunday at Noon CST
It’s the biggest game of the season for both teams. Houston and Tennessee are expected to battle it out for the division crown and/or a playoff spot. Last season, Houston had already won the division, so they played the backups and lost 35-14. Hopefully, this will be a more meaningful game for both teams, and we can all see the AFC South showdown we want to see. Bill O’Brien’s job could be on the line depending on how the season went for the team.
Houston does have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. The first seven games are brutal for the Texans as they play multiple playoff teams from 2019. If they can go into the bye week with a 4-3 or 3-4 record, that should be considered a win for Houston. The second half of the season should go smoothly with the expectation being the team only loses maybe one or two games in that stretch. Anything more could put them in an unnecessary hole. Good things must come out of this season if O’Brien still wants to coach a team as a playoff appearance may not be enough for him.
Follow me on Twitter for more great content @antmill40.