The Houston Texans are fast approaching possibly the most important season in franchise history. Actually, scratch that. This season, up to this point, will be by far the most important season that the Texans have ever played.
The Texans Super Bowl window is starting to close. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, two cores of the Texans offense, are aging and they do not have many more seasons left in their careers.
The Texans need to win and they need to win now.
So how will the Texans fare in this paramount season? In this article, we break down every single game of the year and offer win-loss predictions for each and every one.
For reference, here is the Texans 2013 schedule.
Week 1: At San Diego Chargers
Week 2: Tennessee Titans
Week 3: At Baltimore Ravens
Week 4: Seattle Seahawks
Week 5: At San Francisco 49ers
Week 6: St. Louis Rams
Week 7: At Kansas City Chiefs
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Indianapolis Colts
Week 10: At Arizona Cardinals
Week 11: Oakland Raiders
Week 12: Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 13: New England Patriots
Week 14: At Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 15: At Indianapolis Colts
Week 16: Denver Broncos
Week 17: At Tennessee Titans
The Texans open up the season against the Chargers on Monday Night Football. The Texans' first game since their disappointing loss at the hands of the Patriots in the playoffs, the Texans will certainly be looking to make it up to their fans.
Expect the Texans to come out of the gates firing. Gary Kubiak and Matt Schaub will likely attempt to get DeAndre Hopkins involved early, in hopes of adding a new dimension to an offense that already has the potential to be extremely efficient.
This game, though, will be won by defense. One of the Chargers' strengths is their stout run defense, which will act to slow down the Texans' primary offensive goal: to run the football. If the offensive line is clicking, however, the Texans can run the ball on anyone.
The Texans defense, though, should be able to take complete advantage of the Chargers offense. Last season, the Chargers struggled to consistently protect Philip Rivers; their offensive line gave up the fourth most sacks in the league.
The Texans revamped pass-rush, which will feature J.J. Watt (duh), Whitney Mercilus, Antonio Smith, Brooks Reed and Earl Mitchell, will likely take advantage of the Chargers' porous line.
Expect the Texans to seize control of this game early and never look back, running out the clock in their usual fashion.
Texans: 24, Chargers: 10 (1-0)
The Texans' second game of the season against the Titans is a must-win.
Wait, what? The Texans' second game is a must-win against a lowly rebuilding franchise?
Yes, yes it is. After this game, the Texans will enter the most dangerous three week stretch of their season, where they will face the Ravens, Seahawks and 49ers in consecutive weeks.
So, yes, a loss to the Titans here would be devastating.
A loss, however, most likely isn't on the horizon. The Texans are vastly superior to the Titans in terms of talent, and there is no reason they should lose this game.
The only way this game can even turn ugly for the Texans is if the Titans somehow manage to hold the Texans offense in check, and Chris Johnson has an explosive game where he rushes for well over 100 yards.
While the two above scenarios aren't outside the realm of possibility, the Texans offense is awfully inconsistent at times. With Johnson running behind a much-improved offensive line, a Texans victory is still very likely.
The Texans win easily.
Titans: 9, Texans: 27 (2-0)
The first real test of the Texans season.
Many argue that the Ravens sharply regressed after their Super Bowl victory, as many of their players either retired or departed for other teams.
The Ravens, though, will still boast a team that should be very physical and very competitive.
On offense, Torrey Smith and Ray Rice are athletes who could give any defense in the league fits. And on defense, Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Lardarius Webb and Haloti Ngata are an extremely formidable group.
This game will come down to which team manages to establish the run game. It should be low scoring and it should be close. The Texans, however, come out on top.
Texans: 17, Ravens: 14 (3-0)
Many fans will point to this game and say that this where the Texans will likely suffer a loss. And they certainly could be correct.
The Seahawks are a dangerous team; they are capable of taking down any team in the NFL. Their secondary is likely the best in the league, and opposing quarterbacks rarely light up against it.
The Texans, though, tend to excel in these types of hard-hitting games (See: Texans vs. Bears last season). The Texans defense, which will finally have Brian Cushing back, is certainly up for a physical affair.
If Wade Phillips can conjure up a way to shut down the read-option, this game is certainly winnable for the Texans.
Seahawks: 17, Texans: 21 (4-0)
This is where the Texans' exciting and possibly improbable streak to start the season will finally come to an end.
After two grueling contests with the Ravens and Seahawks in consecutive weeks, the Texans will likely be left physically exhausted.
And it's never a good thing to be physically exhausted when you're about to go up against possibly the most physical team.
The 49ers' front-7 is scary good; Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, Navorro Bowman, Justin Smith and Ahmad Brooks can all dominate at the point of attack.
The Texans will struggle to establish a consistent running game, and the 49ers pass-rushers will likely place a ridiculous amount of pressure on Matt Schaub.
A tired Texans defense could be taken advantage of by the hard-nosed, relentlessly physical 49ers offense.
This game could get ugly.
Texans: 17, 49ers: 31 (4-1)
The Rams are an up-and-coming team, and they are certainly ready to make a name for themselves in this league.
The Texans, though, will be disgusted with themselves after being embarrassed at the hands of the 49ers, and they will be looking to impose their will on the Rams.
Expect the Texans to test the Rams offensive line and come after Sam Bradford with everything they have, daring Bradford and the Rams receivers to beat the press man coverage that the Texans defense will be playing.
And on offense, if the Texans can establish their running game early, Schaub could have a field day with the Rams secondary with the play-action.
The Texans win this one, desperate to make up for their defeat the week before.
Rams: 14, Texans: 24 (5-1)
Three seasons ago, the Texans and the Chiefs engaged in one of the most exciting matchups of the entire season. A high-scoring affair, the Texans were forced to muster up a last-second comeback that culminated with a touchdown pass thrown to Andre Johnson.
And in 2013, we could expect another high-scoring contest.
Last season, the Chiefs were terrible; they finished with the worst record in the league. This season, though, could feature a complete turnaround.
The Chiefs had a huge offseason: they hired Andy Reid as their head coach, they traded for Alex Smith and they drafted Eric Fisher No. 1 overall.
If Reid can continue Smith's development that Jim Harbaugh started in San Francisco, then the Chiefs offense could become scary good. Dwayne Bowe would finally have a dependable quarterback throwing him the ball, and Jamaal Charles may not be forced to deal with as many stacked boxes.
This game could be very exciting if the Chiefs offense puts it together. A shootout is certainly possible.
However, like three years ago, the Texans will come out on top at the end.
Texans: 34, Chiefs: 31 (6-1)
Unfortunately for the Texans, they will be no more rested up than the Colts for this game. Both teams will be coming off of their bye, and they will both have the same amount of time to rest and prepare for this game, negating the advantage a bye week usually bestows upon a team.
The result of this game will be determined by how effectively the Texans pass rush plays. The Colts offensive line, which was upgraded in the offseason, is still unproven, which is wonderful news for the Texans.
If Andrew Luck is given enough time to stand in the pocket, he can pick apart any defense in the league. Heck, even if he is given enough time to run wildly outside of the pocket, he can still place the ball exactly where it needs to be.
The best way to beat the Colts is to constantly pressure Luck and knock him to the ground.
The Texans possess the personnel to do exactly that. They just have to execute. If they can, they could certainly pull off the victory against their division rival.
Colts: 21, Texans: 24 (7-1)
The Cardinals are going to be one of the surprise teams of 2013. They field an impressive defense, which has the potential to shut down any offense.
Also, the additions of Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer in the offseason were huge. With a legitimate quarterback throwing to Larry Fitzgerald in a legitimate offensive scheme, the Cardinals could actually have a very dangerous offense.
And most of all, the Cardinals have the type of team that could give the Texans fits.
Their stout defense and exceptional pass defense could give Matt Schaub a lot of trouble, and their offense has the ability to put points on the board.
As mentioned above, the Cardinals could be a surprise team this season. And if they are, they could certainly surprise the Texans.
Texans: 13, Cardinals: 17 (7-2)
The Raiders are widely considered the worst and least talented team in the NFL. The Texans are considered one of the most talented teams in the league.
Do the math. This should be an easy victory for the Texans.
The Raiders, as they do with most other teams, just don't match up well with the Texans. Foster should have a field day, and the play-action should be working to perfection.
After halftime, as they almost always do when they have a large enough lead, the Texans will run the ball endlessly in an effort to control the clock and quickly end the game.
Raiders: 7, Texans: 24 (8-2)
Coming off an easy win against the Raiders, the Texans will be rested plenty to deal with their pesky divisional rivals.
The Jaguars, no matter how bad they are, almost always seem to give the Texans a run for their money.
But not this time.
The Texans will be looking to dispatch the Jaguars quickly on this one; they will want to rest their star players as much as possible for their upcoming game against New England.
If the Texans can establish a large enough lead by the fourth quarter, they could certainly coast through the rest of the game by giving the ball to their backup running backs.
Jaguars: 10, Texans: 28 (9-2)
This is it. The game of the year for the Texans.
Last season, the Patriots crushed the Texans not once but twice. One of those embarrassing defeats took place in the playoffs.
You can bet the Texans have this game circled on their calendar. Revenge is sweet—especially against a team that eliminated you from the playoffs.
The Texans will have to play their very best football on both sides to come away with this victory.
Matt Schaub will have to be flawless. The Patriots can put points up in a hurry, and the Texans passing game will be forced to keep up. But all that will be for nothing if the defense can't do its job.
Brady has absolutely manhandled the Texans defense in the past two meetings, and if that happens again, the Texans will have no chance of winning.
But if the defense somehow manages to slow down Brady, and the Texans offense does its job, the Texans could actually win this one.
This will be the Super Bowl of the Texans regular season; all of their emotions will be poured into this game.
A victory is unlikely. But it might just happen.
Patriots: 34, Texans: 38 (10-2)
Coming off a physically and emotionally exhausting game against the Patriots and on a short week of rest—this is a Thursday Night Football game—this one has trap written all over it.
As mentioned before, the Jaguars almost always find a way to give the Texans trouble at least once a season. Last year, it took a desperate fourth quarter comeback and nearly all of overtime for the Texans to dispatch the Jaguars.
The Jaguars will field a dangerous receiving core this season, and if Maurice Jones-Drew could return to his old form, the Jaguars offense could actually pose a threat.
The Jaguars surprise the Texans in this one, bringing Texans fans down from their emotional high of the week before.
Texans: 17, Jaguars: 24 (10-3)
The Texans rarely lose two games in a row. The coaching staff does a great job of refocusing the team after a loss, getting the team's head in the game for the next week's matchup.
With a long week to rest following their Thursday Night Football game, the Texans will have plenty of time to forget about the loss to the Jaguars.
With a tough game against the Broncos on the horizon, the Texans will not be able to afford to lose to the Colts, who just might be challenging the Texans for the division crown.
The Texans will likely attempt to make their presence felt in the running game. After all, the best way to beat great quarterbacks is to keep them off the field.
If the Texans can manage to do this, victory should certainly be attainable against their main threat in the division.
Texans: 23, Colts: 17 (11-3)
Last season, the Texans got the best of the Broncos. They held Peyton Manning in check for most of the game, and Matt Schaub had two terrific, long touchdown passes to Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter early on.
The Texans grabbed onto the lead and never looked back. Unfortunately, the opposite stands a great chance of occurring this season.
The Broncos have one of the most talented offenses in the NFL. Manning, a future Hall of Famer who still has it, has three incredibly good receivers at his disposal.
The Texans have struggled to beat elite quarterbacks—especially last season—and their luck may be on the upside after already taking down Tom Brady.
Manning and the Broncos beat the Texans in this one, but not easily.
Broncos: 27, Texans: 21 (11:4)
Two seasons ago, the Texans were matched up with the Titans in the final game of the season. With no playoff seeding stakes on the line, most of the Texans starters hardly played. In fact, when the Texans had the opportunity to tie the game up and send it to overtime, they instead opted to go for two, just to avoid any possible injuries.
This season, though, the Titans will not get off the hook so easily.
Standing at 11-4—in my imagined season—the Texans will be right in the thick of it in a playoff seeding battle with the Broncos and Patriots. This game could certainly determine if the Texans receive a first-round bye or not.
If it does, the Texans will go all out and do their best to absolutely crush the Titans. And if they play to the best of their abilities, they certainly can.
Texans: 31, Titans: 13 (12-4)