While it seemed that the rest of Houston sat on pins and needles in hopes of landing as many national and primetime games as possible for the Texans in 2012, I was honestly hoping for the opposite. Albeit for selfish reasons, of course. When your household is in charge of hosting a large, extended family for Thanksgiving, the last thing you want is having responsibilities to take care of while the game is on. And when you’ll be taking care of a newborn, as I will, just a simple every Sunday at noon mentality works great.
Nevertheless, fans who annually proclaim that the Texans “demand respect” and should have numerous nationally televised games won the day, as Houston was awarded with five such events, the most in single-season history. Two appearances on Monday Night Football against the Jets and Patriots, both on the road are split between week five and fourteen. Sunday Night Football on NBC, in which the Texans are the only team to have never been invited, get the nod twice as well. They will be hosting the Packers in week six and visiting the Bears in week ten. Neither game is during the “flex schedule” either, so their exclusion from “Football Night in America” will finally come to a close.
Then, of course, the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit was awarded, as expected. It was either going to be the Colts or the Texans, and with Indy on the rebuild, CBS probably wanted to avoid the ratings disaster that drumming would probably be and selected the Texans. Now don’t get me wrong, regardless of selfish reasons, I’m happy for the team for finally breaking into the mainstream. Now I’m just hoping they don’t embarrass themselves, the city or us on the actual events.
Aside from the national love, there are some really favorable spots on this schedule. Unlike the past few years that have had fans bargaining with themselves about how they’d be “satisfied to make it through the first month at 2-2,” this schedule gives the team the opportunity to start fast and finish strong.
I realize it’s way too early to be looking at a schedule and saying “Okay…win, win, loss, win, win, etc.,” but let’s be honest here…it’s fun. I like starting with hosting the Dolphins, whom the Texans have never lost to, over opening on the road against the Patriots or something similar. Miami, Jacksonville, Denver, Tennessee and the Jets are all winnable games before the class of the NFC in the Green Bay Packers comes to Reliant in week six, which will be a heavily mixed crowd.
As for the close, Houston faces the Colts twice in the final three weeks separated by a visit from the rebuilding Vikings. If they’re involved in a close race, this is exactly the path Houston would like to see standing in front of them as they try to make their second straight playoff appearance.
While the schedule is favorable, especially with the start, finish and a bye week right in the middle (week eight), there are some potential rough stretches on there. Back-to-back games with the Packers and Ravens aren’t on any teams wishlist, for sure and Houston might need the bye to recover from that one. They also go through a stretch of a month away from the confines of Reliant Stadium. In week’s twelve through fourteen, Houston visits to Detroit, Tennessee and New England. Two of those are nationally televised games on a Thursday and Monday as well and it’s likely to be unfavorable weather conditions in Foxborough in December.
However, there are more favorable stretches in this schedule than bad ones. That’s the first time I can remember that happening in quite some time. Here’s to hoping for good health and the team taking advantage of this fortunate situation. Houston is likely to be pretty high on most of the national media’s AFC contender’s list in the beginning of 2012. With great expectations comes great pressure. Fans wanted the national attention. Well you’d better be ready to hear about it if it doesn’t go the way we want. The Texans are all grown up. Now it’s time to see if they will stay there awhile.