The Runner Sports

Examining The Texans’ Schedule: Brock Osweiler Revenge Game?

Finally, the NFL schedules have been released! It’s like Christmas for the fans that love to just stare at calendars and try to figure out the win/loss record of each team. The Houston Texans have a very interesting schedule this season, playing the NFC West and AFC North for the main non-divisional games. On top of that, the Texans have to face off with two division winners in the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. While very difficult, this schedule could feature more than a few entertaining games, especially if Tom Savage pans out and stays healthy.

Let’s go through each week and try to suss out some important details from each game.  

Week 1: Jacksonville (Home)

Starting the season off against the Jaguars doesn’t seem bad at first. By all reports, Blake Bortles should be a better quarterback than he was in 2016, so he could pose a solid first test for Houston’s revamped secondary. However, Tom Savage will have to be perfect in his first start of the season as he goes against second-year corner Jalen Ramsey and former teammate AJ Bouye. Those are two nasty corners that will make you pay for any mistakes. This game could be ugly if Houston can’t get Lamar Miller established early to help out his quarterback.

Week 2: At Cincinnati (Thursday Night Football)

Houston and Cincinnati have played some very entertaining games over the past few years. TJ Yates led the Texans to victory three times while AJ Green ran through Houston’s secondary during a Bengals victory. However, both teams are vastly different now that the Bengals have lost multiple receivers and offensive linemen while the Texans have lost key defensive stars. This early primetime matchup could work in Houston’s favor considering that the Bengals will most likely be searching for an identity. The Texans have a fairly established team and could shut down Cincinnati’s offense. The Bengals defense will still pose a challenge. Don’t expect a high-scoring affair.

Week 3: At New England

Ugh. New England in Week 3 for the second year in a row. Last year, Houston played New England on Thursday Night Football and failed to score a single point. Even worse, the proud defense let third-string QB Jacoby Brissett run wild all game long. Playing in New England has never been kind to Houston, and it’s unlikely that this changes in 2017. The Patriots are ridiculously loaded at every skill position and will pose major challenges for the Texans defense.

Week 4: Tennessee (Home)

Houston’s second divisional game kickstarts an unprecedented string of three home games in a row. The Texans went 1-1 against Tennessee last season, defeating Marcus Mariota yet somehow losing to Matt Cassel. This will be a very challenging game considering that the Titans have been steadily improving since drafting Mariota second overall in 2015. The extended rest after the Patriots game should be beneficial as Mike Vrabel tries to gameplan for the various threats on the Titans, but both the offense and defense will need to be solid to get a crucial division victory.

Week 5: Chiefs (Home on Sunday Night Football)

For the third consecutive year, the Chiefs travel to NRG Stadium to take on the Texans. The first game in 2015 was a complete dismantling of Houston in which Travis Kelce scored twice and Bill O’Brien benched Brian Hoyer after three quarters. Last season, the Texans defeated the Chiefs 19-12 behind a strong defensive effort and a sack/forced fumble by John Simon. This year’s bout should be quite interesting now that the Texans defense is at full strength and the Chiefs have an established star in Tyreek Hill. JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, and the rest of the front seven should have the advantage against Kansas City’s offensive line.

Week 6: Browns (Home)

Brock Osweiler Revenge Game? Two weeks ago, this would have seemed like a ridiculous idea, but the Browns have actually been making positive comments about Osweiler. What a strange turn after the team contemplated cutting the former Texans starter only minutes after trading for him during free agency. If Osweiler does indeed start, this could be an ugly, yet very entertaining game. He will be determined to prove Bill O’Brien wrong, and the Texans will want to prove that they were right to cut bait. This could be a sloppy mess in the best possible way.

Week 7: BYE

The midseason BYE comes at the perfect time for Houston as they prepare for a difficult trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Week 8: At Seattle

The Texans don’t have much history against Seattle, only playing a handful of times since the team’s creation. Andre Johnson burned the Seahawks secondary back in 2009, but Matt Schaub’s pick-six to Richard Sherman buried the Texans in 2013. Throwing against the Seahawks secondary in Seattle will be one of Savage’s toughest challenges, but he could have a better performance than expected. However, this game will most likely go Seattle’s way given Russell Wilson’s 39-7 record at CenturyLink Field and the raucous crowd.

Week 9: Indianapolis (Home)

This Week 9 home game against the Colts will be the perfect opportunity for Houston to put a stranglehold on the AFC South, provided the games against the Jaguars and Titans are also victories. The Texans swept the Colts in 2016 behind some Lamar Miller heroics. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was injured last year and has since undergone shoulder surgery. Will he be back to full health by Week 9? If not, the Texans will take advantage.

The scary part of this matchup for the Texans is the multiple free agency moves by new Colts GM Chris Ballard. He has completely changed this Indianapolis defense by signing John Simon from the Texans, DT Johnathan Hankins, LB Sean Spence, LB Jabaal Sheard, and NT Al Woods. Ballard is trying to make this defense tougher against both the run and pass. If his moves work out, this AFC South matchup will be an absolute beast.

Week 10: At Los Angeles Rams

This will be the Texans’ first time in Los Angeles and first game against the Rams since 2013. At this point, it’s impossible to predict what caliber of team the Rams will be with a revamped receiving corps, a new head coach, and a new defensive coordinator. Even QB Jared Goff is an absolute mystery. If the Rams are anything like the 2016 iteration, this could be a blowout by the Texans. The game could also turn into an absolute slugfest if the Rams improve under Sean McVay, but we will just have to wait and see.

Week 11: Arizona (Home)

The third NFC West matchup of the season, this game will pit Houston’s secondary against Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals receiving corps. Bruce Arians’ offense disappointed in 2016, but Carson Palmer and his receivers should be fearsome once again. On paper, these teams are eerily similar with star receivers, fantastic running backs, solid defenses, and strong-armed quarterbacks. This could be one of the more entertaining games of Week 11 and possibly one of Houston’s best of the season. A good comparison could be the Vikings/Cardinals bout from 2015 that went back and forth before a defensive play ended the game.

Week 12: At Baltimore (Monday Night Football)

The series between Baltimore and Houston has been lopsided, to say the least, as the Ravens have notched a 7-2 record against the Texans. Some of the games have been close, including an overtime thriller back in 2010, but three of the games have been blowouts. The most recent matchup in 2014 was a 25-13 Texans victory where Randy Bullock nailed six field goals, Arian Foster threw a touchdown pass, and the defense intercepted Joe Flacco three times. Oh, how times change. Baltimore has been quite inconsistent since winning Super Bowl XLVII as Joe Flacco has alternated good and bad games at a rate that even Ryan Fitzpatrick is ashamed of. However, Flacco has shown the ability to play well against very good defenses and the Texans won’t be able to take him lightly. The most interesting aspect of this game will be determining how good or bad this Ravens defense actually is. The unit was seventh in yards-per-game and ninth in points-per-game during the 2016 season, and that was before the team signed CB Brandon Carr and NT Brandon Williams.

Week 13: At Tennessee

The second game against Tennessee will be critical in the late-season AFC South race. It’s unlikely that the Texans will have the division wrapped up given that all of the teams have greatly improved this offseason. Everything will be on the line as Houston heads to enemy territory. Tennessee’s home stadium hasn’t been an issue for the Texans in the past few seasons, minus the game in 2016. Passing against the Titans will be a little different now that Jason McCourty is out the door and former Patriots corner Logan Ryan is in the secondary. Ryan has been a thorn in the Texans’ passing game and could cause some issues for DeAndre Hopkins.

The one X-factor to watch in this late season game is the health of Mariota. The third-year quarterback has only played against Houston once in his career because of various injuries. He missed both games against the Texans in 2015 and only played in one game last year.

Week 14: San Francisco (49ers)

Where do we even go from here? The 49ers are an intriguing foe simply because of the complete mystery surrounding the team. Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley are the only quarterbacks on the roster, but it’s doubtful that either will be starting at this point in the season. Will the 49ers have a rookie quarterback in the building, or will Kyle Shanahan pull off the trade for Kirk Cousins? And what will the defense look like? San Francisco has had some success stopping opposing offenses in the past, but many of the players on the roster are in the twilight of their careers. This could be a Texans blowout unless Shanahan coaches out of his mind and gets the most out of his players in 2017.

Week 15: At Jacksonville

A divisional trip to Florida surrounded by two home games. This could be a surprisingly tough game, especially if the Texans are more focused on the upcoming matchup with Pittsburgh. Despite winning the last three games in Jacksonville, the Texans only hold an 8-7 advantage in away games and sit at 2-3 in December away games. Will Bortles still be the Jags’ starter at this point, or will Doug Marrone’s team have a rookie quarterback under center?

Week 16: Pittsburgh (Home on Christmas Day)

What better way to celebrate the Holiday season than by hosting the most explosive offense in football with a possible playoff berth on the line. Nobody knows how the season will play out, but both the Steelers and the Texans could be on the fringe of the playoffs. The sudden death implications would make this appealing matchup even more of a draw for fans of good football. How will the Texans stop Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger, and a possibly reinstated Martavis Bryant? Will Tom Savage use his gunslinger traits to defeat Pittsburgh’s defense? This game has the potential to be the perfect gift.

Week 17: At Indianapolis

Texans. Colts. For all the marbles. At least, that’s what the schedule makers are hoping for. The powers that be definitely want both of these AFC South rivals to have nearly identical records heading into the final week of the season with the opportunity to win the game and take the division. Storylines like this just make for exciting football, especially if the teams both have solid records and play entertaining games. That’s when NBC will flex an intriguing matchup into the final Sunday Night Football spot. Looking at the 2017 schedules, it’s entirely possible that this scenario could play out as both teams take on the Ravens, Steelers, and Seahawks. Neither team has an easy path to the division crown and they should be more evenly matched with a healthy Andrew Luck and a competent quarterback in Houston.

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John Newby

A Minnesota Vikings fan from Oregon who writes about the Houston Texans and discusses nerdy topics.
Quite fond of my wife, video games, and Blue Heelers.
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