One of the best parts of the NFL schedule being announced is getting the reaction from the luminaries that will play and coach in these games, along with the higher-ups responsible for assembling the rosters. To that end, it was kind of funny last week to hear Texans GM Nick Caserio and Texans head coach Lovie Smith talk separately about the excitement (or in Caserio's case, lack thereof) surrounding the schedule reveal.
Here was Caserio when asked about the schedule unveiling, at the Texans' charity golf tournament on Monday last week:
Well damn, Nick. Do you also hate puppy dogs and ice cream? Let's pump some life back into the schedule reveal, and listen to Lovie Smith in the first 30 seconds of this video below talking about how much he LOVES the schedule reveal!
Lovie has another interesting comment toward the end of this video, where says this: "Seventeen game season, and we have nine on the road this year. You can make a case there''s some type of special backstory for everybody we play this coming season."
Now, as we've established in the previous 100 words or so, Lovie is a generally positive person, so I would expect him to say this, but is it true? Is there a backstory for each of these teams the Texans play? Let's lay out the backstory, and even attempt to manufacture one where there might not be (just to help establish Lovie's optimistic narrative, if for no other reason). Here we go....
Week 1: Sun 9/11 vs COLTS This is a divisional rival that has owned the Texans, both historically and just last season (combined score of 62-3 in two games). However, let's add in that Matt Ryan is the new quarterback for the Colts, and he coughed up the biggest lead in Super Bowl history at NRG Stadium back in 2017, a 28-3 lead against the Patriots (who employed one NICK CASERIO at that time)!
Week 2: Sun 9/18 at BRONCOS The Broncos have played a significant role in recent Texans' history, having deployed Brock Osweiler just well enough to dupe the Texans into signing him to a huge deal in 2016, and then signing former Texan favorite Kareem Jackson in 2019. When Jackson returned to NRG Stadium, he won AFC Defensive Player fo the Week honors. Yuck.
Week 3: Sun 9/25 at BEARS Lovie Smith returns to the city where he took the team to the Super Bowl in 2006. As Lovie mentions in the video above, he still owns a home in Chicago. Go Lovie!
Week 4: Sun 10/2 vs CHARGERS This is actually a revenge game for the Chargers! Yes, the Texans are involved in a revenge game where THEY are the target! Go figure. The Texans' win over the Chargers in Week 16 last season was ultimately the difference between the Chargers making and missing the playoffs. (SPOILER ALERT — they missed.)
Week 5: Sun 10/9 at JAGUARS Another divisional rival, we thank God every day over the last two seasons for the Jags. The Texans only won eight games over those two seasons, but 2020 and 2021 did include a combined 4-0 record over the Jags. We will miss you, Urban Meyer.
Week 6: Sun 10/16 BYE The one week where the Texans aren't underdogs this season — the bye week.
Week 7: Sun 10/23 at RAIDERS Raiders games have included some of the weirdest stuff from the last few years, including the Mexico City game where some fan kept shooting a laser in Brock Osweiler's eye, and the game in 2019 when Deshaun Watson got kicked in the eye throwing a game winning touchdown. Basically, if you're the Texans' QB, protect your eyes! Davis Mills night want to wear sports goggles!
Week 8: Sun 10/30 vs TITANS It's the Titans. They stole our football team. They stole Vince Young. Now, they night even wear the old Oiler uniforms at some point this season. We hate them. End of subject.
Week 9: Thur 11/3 vs EAGLES Week 10: Sun 11/13 at GIANTS Week 11: Sun 11/20 vs COMMANDERS It's tough to come up with storylines for NFC East teams (other than the Cowboys) because the Texans have only played these teams a combined 15 times in their history. If we are looking for reasons to hate each team, here we go — the Eagles are in the same city as James Harden, the Giants are in the same city as Gerrit Cole, and the Commanders are in the same city as [fill in name of random politician here]. (NOTE: I'll let you decide which politician YOU hate. That's not my comfort zone.)
Week 12: Sun 11/27 at DOLPHINS For a team that they have rarely played over the last several years ( just four times since 2012), the Texans are inextricably linked to the Dolphins in some ways, The most tangible is the Laremy Tunsil trade, where Bill O'Brien sent over fortune in draft picks for the Pro Bowl left tackle. The other, most recent link between the teams was the near completion of a Deshaun Watson trade at the trade deadline last season. We now know how that turned out. Hey, speak of the devil.....
Week 13: Sun 12/4 vs BROWNS ....again, no backstory fabrication necessary here. Please, just whoop the hell out of Deshaun Watson.
Week 14: Sun 12/11 at COWBOYS If you're a Houstonian who needs to manufacture a backstory for a game against a team from Dallas, you probably have no soul. Let's keep it moving.
Week 15: Sun 12/18 vs CHIEFS One could argue that the beginning of the Texans' demise into the dilapidated state that Nick Caserio is currently trying to repair began in the 2019 playoffs, when the Texans blew a 24-0 first half lead by HALFTIME of that divisional round playoff game. Painful.
Week 16: Sat 12/24 at TITANS
Week 17: Sun 1/1 vs JAGUARS
Week 18: Sat 1/7 or Sun 1/8 at COLTS And finally, we conveniently circle back to the three divisional opponents to close out the season, so just rewind those backstories from earlier in this post.
I rate the "heat level" Lovie Smith's hot take —- "You can make a case there''s some type of special backstory for everybody we play this coming season" — at the equivalent of a late April evening in Houston. It's very dry with temperatures in the high 60s.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.