Every year, after the NFL schedule is announced, I do a post ranking the Texans' eight road trips on the schedule for that particular season. It's a fun, VERY SUBJECTIVE process that is grounded in my 30 years of adulthood, traveling the country on business for about half of that before getting into radio in 2007. Even after 2007, I've had a chance to actually go to a few of these stadiums around the league.
So I preface EVERYTHING this season by saying that, in a weird way, all eight road games are kind of tied for first, because the mere ability to get on a plane and go ANYWHERE to sit in the stands at an NFL (or MLB or NBA or college football) game would be so very welcomed. That said, let's process with this year's ranking with the optimistic slant that these games will be attend-able.
So, in reverse order, here we go....
8. WEEK 9: Sunday 11/8 at Jacksonville, Noon
7. WEEK 15: Saturday 12/19 or Sunday 12/20, at Indianapolis, TBD
6. WEEK 6: Sunday 10/18 at Tennessee, Noon
Typically, this is what I do with the three AFC South games, I rank them sixth, seventh, and eighth in some order, depending on weather and dates. It's not meant to be disrespectful to Jacksonville, Nashville, or Indianapolis. It's just that those are trips a Texans fan can make literally every season. That said, Jacksonville is in last place among the eight road trips for this season, because the game is in November (not optimal back time) and the Jags suck. Indianapolis is seventh, ahead of the Jags (despite likely arctic temps) on the strength of their very underrated downtown nightlife and the likelihood this game means something. Tennessee wins the division road games based on likely crips fall weather and Nashville's killer nightlife and food.
5. WEEK 12: Thursday11/26 at Detroit, 11:30 (Thanksgiving Day)
Of the other five road games, Detroit is the clear fifth place at any time on the calendar, so this is an easy slotting. Thankfully, that's the case, because I can't decide if the game being on Thanksgiving makes it more enjoyable or less enjoyable to attend. Let's move along.
4. WEEK 10: Sunday 11/15 at Cleveland, Noon
This could be an underrated trip, if the Browns that everyone THOUGHT would show up in 2019 actually show up this season. Quite honestly, if the Browns and Texans are what most think they are, this could be a crucial game in deciding who gets that last, add-on wild card spot in the AFC. While you're in Cleveland, hit the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame on a Saturday, or get drunk at the bars in The Flats while watching college football (hopefully) all day. (Hell, depending on the MLB calendar, maybe you're watching the World Series, too.)
3. WEEK 14: Sunday 12/13 at Chicago, Noon
I know what you're saying —- "Really, Sean, Chicago in December is the third best game on the docket?" That is a fair question, I must admit, but stay with me. Any trip to Chicago must include the cuisine as THE major factor in traveling. I lived outside Chicago for three years, and by and large, I hated it. But dammit, I loved (and STILL love) eating in that city. Gibson's Steakhouse, Carmine's for Italian, a little Heaven on Seven for Cajun food (yes, it's really good, trust me), some Portillo's for hot dogs and Italian beef, Giordano's for pizza. Honestly, you can just watch the game in a Chicago bar and guzzle Old Style all day, and the trip is complete.
2. WEEK 1: Thursday 9/10 at Kansas City, 7:20 p.m.
The bad news here is that there's a good chance the Texans get steamrolled, and you're stuck sitting with a bunch of Chiefs fans in the middle of a three hour Kansas City self-pleasuring. However, there is that "Rocky Balboa" style chance that the Texans get sick of hearing how great the Chiefs are, and they rise up and pull off the upset. Either way, this stadium experience should be on any fan's "bucket list." Also, you can have some really scintillating arguments with Kansas City-ians about whose barbecue is better (I am making a ranking motion as I type this).
1. WEEK 3: Sunday 9/27 at Pittsburgh, Noon
Blue blood team, Watt brother sibling rivalry, crisp fall weather, Primanti Brothers sandwiches, Iron City beer. Sign me up!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.