I can start by borrowing from a wise man and tell you that, yes, your Houston Texans are scheduled for 16 regular season games in 2013. They also managed to secure a bye week as well. Kudos to the Texans for doing just that.
If you're looking for 2013 season predictions, talk to us in August. No NFL team has their roster or depth chart set, so it seems a bit premature to take a crack at whether or not the Texans will win X number of games or their third straight division championship, something only accomplished by 17 of the other 31 franchises, but we can look at how the 2013 schedule lays out. Again, for point of reference or you have not seen it yet, the 2013 schedule can be found here.
Unlike most, I'm not mad about the Monday Night Football opener on the West Coast against the San Diego Chargers. It's a regular season opener, it's on prime-time, and I don't think the team suffers any for it. The short week doesn't bother me too much because Week Two features the home opener and it's against Kevin Walter and the hated Tennessee Titans. The crowd will be loud, and I believe that will provide some energy to the home team.
The three week gauntlet, from Week Three to Five, is rough. Travelling to the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, coming home to play the Seattle Seahawks, and going out west, again, to face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football? That's harsh. The only consolations? No one truly knows what to expect from Baltimore this season after the post-championship roster turnover. Seattle has a road record of 11-29 over the past five seasons, with no winning road seasons since 2005. Finally, San Francisco meets Houston at the tail end of its own five-game gauntlet. Of course, some already believe that the Texans will be embarrassed on the road.
The St. Louis Rams have a good defense, under familiar head coach Jeff Fisher, but their offense is a work-in-progress. Even though Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium is loud, the Chiefs are also a work-in-progress. The bye week in Week Eight is about as optimal as you can get. This splits the season into seven and nine week stretches, allowing the team to get ready for the stretch run.
While both Houston and the Indianapolis Colts get a bye before their Sunday Night showdown in Week Nine, the Texans will get a second advantage prior to their Week 15 rematch as they'll have 10 days to prepare for their 12th attempt to win in Indianapolis.
The Arizona Cardinals should be better with a more competent quarterback, if you want to refer to Carson Palmer as such, but Palmer doesn't make that game unwinnable. Followed by home contests against the rebuilding Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars, this three week stretch appears primed for Houston to collect wins. As a side note, this will be the eighth match-up between the Raiders and Texans, the most of any non-division opponent for Houston.
After two embarrassing defeats last season, including in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, December 1st is a date many Texans fans will circle as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots come to town. If the Texans are in the playoff hunt, I imagine Reliant Stadium will be as loud as it has ever been. Fans will want payback.
The season ends with three out of the final four games on the road. If there's a silver lining, those three road games are against familiar Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and Tennessee. Having Jacksonville on a short week is about as good as the Texans could have hoped for a Thursday Night game. Not only are the Jaguars familiar, having only played them 10 days earlier, they're also rebuilding. As said earlier, 10 days to prepare for Indianapolis is a nice advantage while the Tennessee game in Week 17 could ultimately be meaningless for both Houston and Tennessee. Aside from unpredictable rain, the game in Tennessee also serves as the only potentially bad weather game in the regular season.
The real highlight in that stretch is the Week 16 match-up against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. After back-to-back road games, that could be tough. It could also depend on how the AFC playoff picture looks. Denver, in a division with no apparent challengers, could have run away with the AFC West and have all their playoff hopes wrapped up. On the other hand, this game could be for a bye and/or home field advantage.
Sure, the schedule makers could have mixed the three straight home games with the final month a bit better. They also could have mixed the early three rough games with the three easy games after the Indianapolis game. However, this could have been much, much worse. The Texans could have had Baltimore, Seattle, San Francisco, Indianapolis, New England, and Denver all in the second half of the season. There could have been a worse layout for the West Coast games. There could have been more chances for inclement weather. You get the idea. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the schedule.
Forget predicting records, BRBers. How are you feeling about the way the schedule is laid out? Do you like where the bye is? How do you feel about those prime-time games? Is the Thursday night game a bad idea? Do you think your Texans will be worn out by season's end?