Kiefer O'Boyle looks at the Texans schedule ahead of the new NFL season.
We reach the final team to go under the microscope in the form of the Houston Texans. This was not done without reason; the Texans will finish last in the AFC South and have a legitimate claim to be the worst team in the AFC and wider NFL. This isn’t necessarily the most draining thing about this franchise currently however, the real issue for the Texans and their fans is the absolute absence of hope for the upcoming season. As I outlined in the off-season review, the Texans are going in the opposite direction to all other teams in the AFC South and even forgetting the issues still hovering over Deshaun Watson, this is a roster that is sorely lacking in almost all position groups. Let the pain commence…
Easiest Win – Bye Week 10
The Texans can’t play themselves unfortunately as they could really do with the win by this stage of the season, but here’s the next best thing- a week where you don’t register a loss.
Toughest Game – Week 16 vs Los Angeles Chargers
Maybe not the hardest game on paper with the AFC South facing off against the NFC West this season but just to switch it up slightly, the second of the Los Angeles teams visits Houston and if all the annual “building-up-the-Chargers-into-Superbowl-contenders-hype” is to be believed, this is the year it finally clicks for LA. I envision Justin Herbert laying waste to the already scorched earth that remains of the Texans secondary and dropping a minimum 50-burger. This game also sits nicely nestled between a horror line-up of Seattle, at San Francisco and home to Tennessee.
Most Interesting Matchup – Week 1 vs Jacksonville Jaguars
This was a tough one to choose because it is legitimately hard to see what this Houston team is capable of. Week 1 against a division opponent who, while not unbeatable, will offer a stern test to this team. After this match we can go some way to answering some of the questions about this team and what they may be capable of in 2021. A lot of positive buzz is coming out of training camp already about new coach David Culley, and its absolutely possible that he brings this team together and they prove to be competitive- I just wouldn’t bet on it.
Make or Break Period – Week 1-4 (vs Jacksonville, @ Cleveland, vs Carolina, @Buffalo)
Ultimately this period will give us a much clearer idea of who the 2021 Texans are. Week 1 is an absolute must-win against a division opponent and a win would lift a lot of pressure off both players and staff at NRG Stadium. Playing Cleveland and Buffalo equates to two of the stronger teams in the league and if Houston can compete with them it bodes well for the rest of the season. However, there are no easy stretches in the season for Houston and so a bad start could become worse in a hurry. Should they go 0-4 through this stretch, the odds on going winless will begin to drop.
Week 10 Bye
7 Games vs teams below .500 in 2020 (Jaguars x2, Panthers, Patriots, Jets, Chargers, 49ers)
10 games vs teams .500 or above in 2020 (Titans x2, Colts x2, Seahawks, Browns, Rams, Cardinals, Bills, Dolphins)
The NFL hasn’t had any sympathy for the beleaguered Texans in 2021, handing them a tough schedule at best. Add into consideration the weakness of the Houston roster and the result you get is a very tough season ahead in south Texas. Anything above 4 wins would be viewed as a major victory as this teams sets about a massive rebuild.