The Houston Texans enter the 2013 season with big expectations, as this franchise looks to take the next step in its development.
After getting bounced in the divisional round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season, the Texans' 2012 season ended with a sense of underachievement as Houston slumped to the finish line.
The Texans started 2012 at 11-1 on the strength of a balanced offensive attack and a dominant defense. Then things began to unravel, as Houston lost three of its last four to close out the regular season and was then easily handled, 41-28, by the Patriots in its second playoff game.
|2013 Houston Texans Schedule|
|1||Sept. 9 || at San Diego Chargers ||10:20 p.m.||ESPN|
|2||Sept. 15 || Tennessee Titans ||1 p.m. ||CBS|
|3||Sept. 22 || at Baltimore Ravens ||1 p.m. ||CBS|
|4||Sept. 29|| Seattle Seahawks ||1 p.m. ||FOX|
|5||Oct. 6|| at San Francisco 49ers ||8:30 p.m. ||NBC|
|6||Oct. 13||vs. St. Louis Rams ||1 p.m. ||FOX|
|7||Oct. 20|| at Kansas City Chiefs ||1 p.m. ||CBS|
|8||-|| BYE WEEK ||- ||-|
|9||Nov. 3|| Indianapolis Colts ||8:30 p.m ||NBC|
|10||No. 10||at Arizona Cardinals ||4:25 p.m. ||CBS|
|11||Nov. 17|| Oakland Raiders ||1 p.m. ||CBS|
|12||Nov. 24|| Jacksonville Jaguars ||1 p.m. ||CBS|
|13||Dec. 1|| New England Patriots ||4.25 p.m. ||CBS|
|14||Dec. 5 || at Jacksonville Jaguars ||8.25 p.m. ||NFL Network
|15||Dec. 15|| at Indianapolis Colts ||1 p.m.||CBS|
|16||Dec. 22 || Denver Broncos ||1 p.m.||CBS|
|17||Dec. 29 || at Tennessee Titans ||1 p.m. ||CBS|
Note: For a complete look at Houston's 2013 schedule, check out NFL.com.
While the Texans' schedule rates out as the sixth easiest, that is a bit misleading; they are going to play seven games against teams that made the playoffs a season ago.
That includes playing both of last season's Super Bowl teams (Ravens and 49ers) on the road. While the Ravens will look radically different than last year's dominant squad, this team is still loaded and has Joe Flacco looking to justify his massive contract.
Meanwhile, the 49ers are considered the favorite by many (including Bovada) to win the Super Bowl.
Speaking of Super Bowl favorites, the Texans also get the Broncos and Seahawks at home—they are Bovada's second and fourth Super Bowl favorites. They also have to face the Patriots on the road, and New England is the third favorite.
In all, the Texans should not be complaining about this schedule. While there are some tough challenges, this team is in a position where it needs to figure out how to beat the NFL's best. Also, those tough games are supplemented with a host of games coming against floundering franchises.
The Texans are matched up against the struggling AFC West, and they also steamrolled through their division last year going 5-1.
Most Pivotal Matchup
In the eyes of many, the Denver Broncos are the team to beat in the AFC. Were it not for a baffling blown assignment by safety Rahim Moore late in the Broncos' loss to the Ravens in the divisional round, there is a good chance that Denver would be the defending champions.
The Broncos have had a solid offseason, and they look prepared to improve on last year's effort as Peyton Manning enters Year 2 of his Denver career.
The Texans will get the Broncos at home, and this game provides them a chance to prove to the NFL, and themselves, that they are ready to make a serious run at the Super Bowl.