As we learned last year, the scheduling of the NFL season can make or break a team.
Although the schedule does not affect how well teams perform, it is significant in how teams shake out at the end of the season.
Let’s break down the Texans’ 2019 schedule by dividing it into four quarters, with each quarter being comprised of four games.
To open up the season with the Saints on the road is a major YIKES!
The last important NFL game to take place in New Orleans was the NFC Championship, where the Saints lost controversially and unexpectedly.
Now the Saints will come marching in with all eyes on reversing their fortunes by beating the Texans for all of America to see on national TV.
If it is any consolation, the Saints fell to the lowly Bucs during their home opener last year after losing the previous year in the playoffs to the Vikings in the Minnesota Miracle.
I would not tab the Saints as an automatic win or loss just yet. It could be a benefit to play the Saints early in the season before they get into a rhythm. Or it could be the worst case scenario.
As for the other games to begin the season, the Jaguars pose as a winnable game in Houston’s home opener, and playing the Chargers early in the season might also be a benefit.
These are the games that players will miss with four-game PED suspensions or by being placed on the PUP list.
I think 2-2 is difficult with this first foursome, but achievable.
The home games in this stretch are winnable, but they are sandwiched around two very difficult road games against playoff teams from a year ago.
This means that defeating the Falcons and Raiders will be two very important contests for the Texans, as the Chiefs and Colts games are two games the Texans will be expected to lose.
If the Texans can go 2-2 in this quarter, it will be an accomplishment. Going 3-1 or 4-0 would be phenomenal, and the Texans would be considered as a playoff threat at this point in the season.
If the Texans can get to 5-3, I’d be very content. 4-4 wouldn’t be bad either. 3-5 or worse is very possible and would worry me.
Here comes the true gauntlet in Houston’s schedule.
The Texans play their first game in franchise history outside of North America when the team faces the Jags in London
The Jags are a beatable opponent, but it will be interesting to see how the Texans will adjust to playing in London against a team with a lot of players with London experience. It could cause the visitors to slip up and fumble a winnable game.
After the team returns home and enjoys their bye, the toughest three-game stretch in the 2019 schedule awaits.
All three opponents in Weeks 11-13 played extra football last season.
The Ravens can improve in Year 2 of the Lamar Jackson era, and the Texans have never played particularly well in Baltimore.
Then come the Colts and Pats, the two teams that have given the Texans the most trouble as of late, both of which will be played in primetime.
It would be nice for this to be the time where the Pats hit their midseason slump or for the Colts to be ailing on a short week, but recent history suggests that neither will happen.
If the Texans can get two wins out of this quarter of the season, I’ll be impressed.
The best part about Houston’s schedule is that four of the final six games take place at NRG Stadium.
Kareem Jackson makes his return to Houston in Week 14 as the Broncos face his former Texans.
The Broncos game could be a season-saving game if the Texans win, so the team will need to be sharp on that day.
Then comes the unusual two games in three weeks stretch with the Titans and Bucs sandwiched in the middle.
It’s very possible that the Titans could be eliminated from playoff contention at this point in the season, which will help the Texans chances. Then again, the Texans might also be eliminated from playoff contention if they cannot get past the prior midseason gauntlet.
The Bucs on the road in December is an excellent part of the schedule. The Texans struggled last year playing the Eagles so close to Christmas.
The coldest game of the year might come in Nashville during Week 15 or maybe Baltimore in Week 11.
This final quarter is probably the easiest for the Texans, so if the team can stay in playoff contention for the first twelve games, they’ll have a great chance to make the playoffs with a favorable schedule to end the season.
The Texans had the easiest schedule in the league last season based on win percentage. Now, their strength of schedule ranks fourth in the league at .527 based on last year’s strength of schedule. It’s definitely a big change, but the Texans’ win-loss record won’t come down to who they play and when they do, but rather how they play on the field.
What’s your best guess as to how the Texans will fare in 2019?