At the end of the NFL regular season, there are very divergent agendas, depending on how good your team is. Fourteen of the teams in the NFL finish up on Sunday of Week 18 and begin preparations for the playoffs. The other 18 teams start hardcore looking at mock drafts and checking to see who they're playing in 2023.
Unfortunately, here in Houston, out plucky football team is in the latter category — lamenting a fall from the first overall pick in the draft to No. 2, checking to see where the Browns' pick fell (thanks, Deshaun Watson!), and looking to see who is on the dance card for 2023's slate of games. Who's coming to NRG Stadium next season? What do the road trips look like?
Well, I'm glad you asked! Here is what the opponent slate looks like, with dates and times for these games set to be released in early May:
HOME OPPONENTS: Jacksonville, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Denver, Arizona
The Texans' slate of home opponents include the annual matchups with division rivals (Jaguars, Titans, Colts), and in 2023, the two divisions that they cross over with in full are the AFC North and NFC South.
This means the Texans get a home matchup with the Steelers, which is my betting favorite for a J.J. Watt Ring of Honor induction, and a home matchup with Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns. AGAIN! That's becoming an annual tradition, by God!
In the NFC South games, the Texans welcome a bunch of (presumably) drunk Cajuns to town for the Saints game, and then perhaps a visit from Tom Brady if he is still with the Bucs. The two variable opponent games will have the Denver Broncos (a chance to boo Russell Wilson) and the Arizona Cardinals (welcome back, DeAndre Hopkins!) coming to town.
ROAD OPPONENTS: Jacksonville, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Carolina, Atlanta, New York Jets
Say what you will about the results in 2022 for the Texans, but the quality of cities to which Texan fans could travel was pretty damn solid. Aside from the three division games, the road venues this past season were Denver, Chicago, New York City, Miami, Dallas, and Las Vegas. That's a great stretch!
In 2023, the caliber of town diminishes significantly. In the five non division games, the Texans travel to Cincinnati (yawn), Baltimore (yikes), Charlotte (meh), Atlanta (okay, solid nightlife), and New York City (always fun). Not even close to 2022!
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