Amidst the beginning of what we hope is a deep Rockets playoff run and the first two weeks of what could be a special Astros season, the first whiff of 2017 football hit the radar this week. The Houston Texans were back at workouts at NRG Stadium, J.J. Watt was chopping it up with the media and the personnel department was hosting its final round of pre-draft guests (what up, Pat Mahomes?).
But the 2017 season started to feel a little more real on Thursday night, as the league unveiled the full regular season schedule (and gave us times and dates on preseason games as well). We've known who the Texans would play and where they would play them since the regular season ended. Last night, the most crucial part — WHEN they would play them — came into focus.
Without further ado, here is this coming season's schedule...(with a printable version available by clicking HERE)
Day Date Opponent TV Network Kickoff Time
Wed August 9 at Carolina Panthers KTRK 6:30 p.m.
Sat August 19 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS KTRK 7:00 p.m.
Sat August 26 at New Orleans Saints KTRK 7:00 p.m.
Thur August 31 DALLAS COWBOYS KTRK 7:00 p.m.
Day Date Opponent TV Network Kickoff Time
Sun September 10 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS CBS Noon
Thur September 14 at Cincinnati Bengals NFLN 7:25 p.m.
Sun September 24 at New England Patriots CBS Noon
Sun October 1 TENNESSEE TITANS CBS Noon
Sun October 8 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS NBC 7:30 p.m.
Sun October 15 CLEVELAND BROWNS CBS Noon
Sun October 29 at Seattle Seahawks CBS 3:05 p.m.
Sun November 5 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS CBS Noon
Sun November 12 at Los Angeles Rams CBS 3:05 p.m.
Sun November 19 ARIZONA CARDINALS FOX Noon
Mon November 27 at Baltimore Ravens ESPN 7:30 p.m.
Sun December 3 at Tennessee Titans CBS Noon
Sun December 10 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS FOX Noon
Sun December 17 at Jacksonville Jaguars CBS Noon
Mon December 25 PITTSBURGH STEELERS NBC/NFLN/Amazon 3:30 p.m.
Sun December 31 at Indianapolis Colts CBS Noon
A few observations...
1. Just as they've done in each of Bill O'Brien's first three seasons as head coach, the Texans open the season at home, this time against the Jacksonville Jaguars. As this will be the first time Tom Savage opens the season as the unquestioned starter, perhaps it's a good thing he's going against the team against whom he won the starting job last season while replacing Brock Osweiler, albeit against a defense that added A.J. Bouye in free agency.
2. Last season, the Texans got their Thursday game out of the way early (Week 3 blowout loss to New England), and this season they get it out of the way even earlier, with a Week 2 trip to Cincinnati. Three fun Texans-Cincy facts — 1) The Bengals will be the only non-division team to play the Texans in all four of O'Brien's seasons thus far, 2) they're 2-1 against the Bengals despite scoring 13, 10 and 12 points in three games, and 3) after this 2017 game, O'Brien will have coached against the Bengals on a Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. (What would you people do without me?)
3. Like last season, the Texans face the Patriots in Week 3. Thankfully, for the first time in the O'Brien era, they don't play the Patriots in prime time. (They've played three times so far.) A nice noon kickoff on a Sunday afternoon against the Pats will certainly feel strange.
4. The Texans have two conventional, non-Thursday primetime games — Week 5 at home on Sunday against the Chiefs and Week 12 in Baltimore. They also play the Steelers in an NBC game on Christmas Day that kicks off at 3:30 p.m.
5. With an improved AFC South, it might be imperative to go 10-6 to guarantee you don't have to hit any tiebreakers to win the division. If that's the case, then going 4-2 before the bye week is non-negotiable, considering the Texans have four home games against three teams they beat at home last season and the Browns. Also, it's non-negotiable because...
6. ...the six games after the bye week are painful to look at on this schedule. It starts with a cross-country trip to Seattle, then back to Houston for a game against Andrew Luck, and then back out to the West Coast for a game against a "Wade Phillips in his first year as DC" defense. That game starts a string of three road games in four weeks, including a back-to-back that has a Monday game in Baltimore followed by a Sunday game in Tennessee. The one home game in that four-game stretch is against Arizona. If the Texans go 3-3 over that stretch, it will be a minor miracle, in my opinion.
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7. Basically, I'm saying if they're 7-5 heading into their last four games, you all should be pretty happy with that, for real. (Even though I know you won't be.)
8. The final two games could be an uphill climb, with a home game against what is largely regarded as the second-best team in the AFC, Pittsburgh, and a road game to close the season in Indianapolis. I will say that it feels odd for the Texans to be trying to extend a winning streak in Indy, after going winless in their first 13 tries there.
EARLY PREDICTION: 7-9
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.