Coming off back-to-back playoff appearances and playing with a franchise quarterback who’s still on his rookie deal, it looked like the Texans were going to be on everybody’s shortlist of legitimate AFC contenders. Some may have even thought the Texans’ Super Bowl 55 chances were genuine.
But after trading away DeAndre Hopkins and leaving touts unimpressed at the draft, folks are jumping off Houston’s bandwagon like it’s the sinking Titanic.
For more on what to expect from Bill O’Brien and his squad in 2020, let’s examine the Houston Texans’ strength of schedule.
How Difficult Will the Texans’ 2020 Schedule Be?
Facing teams with a combined 132-123-1 record, Houston got hit with the 8th-toughest schedule in the league. However, if there’s one good thing about the Texans’ schedule, it’s that it gets easier as the season progresses.
Their bye comes at a good time (week 8), and they end the year with a couple of extremely winnable home games, so things could certainly be worse. On the other hand, who knows what the morale will be like in mid-October if this team struggles out of the gates?
Bill O’Brien has already raised eyebrows with a series of questionable moves, and a sluggish start to the year could spell doom for this franchise.
Before I get into the gauntlet they get thrown into to kick off the year, we’ll start with a peek at the Texans’ easiest games.
Texans’ Easiest Games in 2020
Week 5 VS. Jaguars
Week 9 @ Jaguars
Week 12 @ Lions
Week 16 VS. Bengals
Week 5 against Jacksonville marks the first time the Texans play an opponent who had a losing record in 2019. I’m higher on JAX than most, but it seems as if Houston has the Jaguars’ number. The Texans are 10-2 in their last 12 games against Jacksonville and have beaten them four straight times by an average margin of 13.5 points.
Coming off their bye in week 8, Houston gets the Jags again in week 9. And while the Texans are resting up on their bye, the Jaguars will be playing across the country in Los Angeles. Advantage Houston.
Deshaun Watson and his teammates will spend Thanksgiving Day in Detroit in a traditional Turkey Day game in Motor City — certainly a contest you’d expect Houston to have a leg up in. A breather at home versus Cincy in week 16 sets the Texans up for a week 17 showdown against the Titans.
Texans’ Hardest Games in 2020
Week 1 @ Chiefs
Week 2 Vs. Baltimore
Week 3 @ Steelers
Week 4 VS. Vikings
Week 14 @ Bears
After studying the first four games on Houston’s schedule, I have a much better understanding of why the Texans’ win total was set at just 7.5 games. What I’m wondering is if the authorities who are in charge of setting the 2020 schedule have beef with Bill O’Brien.
Seriously, I’d call Houston’s opening stretch “brutal,” but that would be an understatement.
Beginning the year on the road at Kansas City might be one of the most exciting TNF games on the NFL schedule, but it’s not a game that Houston has much chance of winning. The Chiefs are likely to close as a double-digit favorite.
It won’t get much easier the following week against the Ravens, save for the fact that playing on Thursday in week 1 gives Houston a few extra days to recuperate. To complicate matters even further, traveling to Heinz Field to take on the Steelers in week 3 isn’t a game I expect Houston to win, either.
Toss in a game against the well-balanced Vikings attack in week 4, and there’s no question that the Texans’ strength of schedule over the first month is the most grueling in football.
As noted, it starts getting more manageable after that, although a trip to Soldier Field sandwiched between divisional games against the Colts will be far from a bargain. Coming from the moderate climate in Houston, a road game in the Windy City in the middle of December will be arduous, to say the least.
If Deshaun Watson can find a way to escape the first month of the season unscathed at 2-2, there’s a high likelihood the Texans are on their way to the playoffs. But is that the most realistic outcome?
A pessimist would say things are going to get ugly quick and that Bill O’Brien’s seat will turn hotter than Satan’s house cat.
What’s important to mention is that while some teams would be deterred by a less-than-desirable start, Houston is as battle-tested and resilient as any team in the league.
Remember, this is the same coach and same quarterback who ripped off nine straight wins in 2018 after beginning the year 0-3.
As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for GamblingSites.com on football, basketball, and baseball.
Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.