The NFL does a great job with their schedule every year, and one of the reasons why is that the rules are fairly simple.
- A team plays six games against the other three teams in its division.
- A team also plays four games against each team in one of the other three divisions in your conference. Those divisions are rotated each year.
- Next, there are four games against each team in one of the four divisions in the opposing conference. Those divisions are also rotated each year.
- Finally, there are two games against teams that finished in the same place in their respective divisions as the team did in its division. This is why it seems like we play the Patriots every year...because we’ve won the AFC South six our of the last ten years.
Within eight years, a team has played a home-and-away game against every team. This year, the AFC South is pitted against the NFC North and AFC North. Because of the system detailed above, we know who and where the Texans will play in 2020.
Home: Jacksonville, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Minnessota, and New England.
Away: Jacksonville, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago.
The only question is when do the Texans play, and we won’t know that until the NFL releases the regular season schedule; that usually happens in April, a week or so before the NFL Draft. I’m not going to let that stop me, though. My friends, I have predicted the Texans’ 2020 regular season schedule.
Week One: Houston Texans at Detroit Lions
I don’t think there is another team that needs to start the 2020 season away from its fan base more than the Texans. After blowing a 24-point lead in the AFC Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, the Houston Texans must start hot to avoid a startled city from becoming a hotbed for overthrowing the front office.
Week Two: Green Bay Packers vs. Houston Texans (TNF)
Aaron Rodgers versus Deshaun Watson makes for a delectable game. Back-to-back NFC North games are an interesting touch on the schedule, but this starts the season off with games with teams that rarely see each other. This game gets pushed to Thursday Night Football because it showcases two playoff teams, high-caliber QBs, and mediocre defenses.
Week Three: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (SNF)
Early rematches of fun playoff games are a staple for the NFL as a way to create story lines based off last year’s games. Going back to the scene of the crime will be too tempting for the NFL to not put on national TV.
Week Four: Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
The first AFC South game of the Texans’ season starts, as it often does, in Jacksonville. Having three of the first four games away from home will be a tough assignment for the Texans. But Houston cannot complain about playing the Jaguars this early; the Jags are in a constant state of upheaval and by this time whatever depth chart they had in place will be completely undone.
Week Five: Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans
The way this schedule is falling, this game would almost be guaranteed to be a home game. The Titans made it to the AFC Championship Game, winning in both New England and Baltimore. They’ll be an immense power to deal with next year to cap off a tough beginning schedule. In this scenario, the Texans will have to play three of four AFC and NFC Championship teams in the first five weeks.
Week Six: BYE
The Texans have been fortunate with their bye weeks coming late in the season in recent years. Players always prefer a later bye week to break up the schedule and allow them to receive much needed rest before the last push of the season. Under these circumstances, the Texans need an early bye with all of the traveling they’ve done so far.
Week Seven: Houston Texans at Chicago Bears
This game would need to be played in Soldier Field before it gets too cold or the Texans will have to deal with a snow game. Rarely have the Texans faced a northern, outdoors game in December. This would be an important road trip after the week off. Bears fans will be able to witness another one of the QBs they should've taken in the 2017 NFL Draft live and in person.
Week Eight: Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans (SNF)
Two of the AFC’s three brightest QBs stare off in another prime time contest. Right in the heart of the season, the Texans look to rebound from last year’s 41-7 disaster.
Week Nine: Minnesota Vikings vs. Houston Texans
Fun fact: The Houston Texans have never beaten the Vikings in their four meetings. The Vikings are a tough team, and this should be one of the better games of the season. Equally talented and flawed, both teams find themselves at a crucial point in the campaign and truly want to win and move on after this game.
Week Ten: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Who knows who will be the QB of the Colts in 2020? After a waste of a season, the Colts could be rebuilding in 2020 or challenging for the division title. There’s rarely a team in such deliberation as this Colts team. Beating the Colts in Indianapolis is the bane of the Texans, and Houston may not have a better shot in quite a while.
Week Eleven: Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
The Texans have historically and recently done well in Tennessee. Tennessee in late November can get chilly. The second of two games against the Titans will probably decide the fate of the AFC South, even with six games left in the 2020 season in this scenario. I could also see this game happening later in the season.
Week Twelve: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Houston Texans
Joe Burrow most likely will be a Bengal. Cincy has already stated they do not intend to trade the first overall pick. Burrow should have the reins by this point in the season. The Bengals have a ton of holes and only won two games last year. They also have a young head coach in Zac Taylor who will be looking to build the roster around his new philosophy.
Week Thirteen: Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers
Another case of TBD of who will be at QB for this game. The Steelers are another case of a team that is rebuilding but act like they are in a win-now era. This match-up is also a candidate for Thursday Night Football.
Week Fourteen: New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans (MNF)
If the beginning of the schedule was filled with foreign teams, the end of this predicted schedule is full of familiar foes. The Patriots and Texans play each other like they are in the same division. Since the Texans have won the AFC South six of the last 10 years and the Texans naturally play the Patriots every three years, these two teams will have a lot of film on each other. It’s yet to be known whether Tom Brady will continue to lead the Patriots, but regardless of Brady’s presence, this game will be great.
Week Fifteen: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans
This game has less marketability than a Texas high school football game. It gets stuck at the end of the schedule as a filler while other teams play crucial games down the stretch.
Week Sixteen: Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns
Lump Cleveland in with the rebuilding and yet somehow also win-now group. This could have major implications on the Wild Card at the end of the 2020 season. Or half of Cleveland’s roster jumps into Lake Erie and the team continues to sit in their Pit of Misery.
Week Seventeen: Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
The last game of the season always ends with an AFC South opponent. It’s one of the league’s better traditions and creates a lot more pressure on teams to win their last game of the season. 2019 was the Titans. 2018 was the Jags, and the year before was at the Colts. It only makes sense for the Texans to finish the season in Houston playing what could be a Tom Brady-led Colts team.
That’s four prime-time match-ups. An early bye week. No back-to-back-to back road games. A relatively fair and probable schedule for the Texans in 2020. Now all they have to do is win 10-11 of them.
What’s your best guess at what the Texans’ 2020 schedule looks like?