The Texans 2020 schedule has officially been released. With all NFL team schedules released late Thursday evening, fans quickly raced down the 17-week registries with not only anticipation of the best matchups, but the readiness to predict the outcome of the entire season.
While Twitter and Facebook accounts are proclaiming that their team will go no worse than 10-6 and have a playoff shot, the Texans are looking to expand on that precise record from a season ago. Before we breakdown the Texans 2020 schedule, let us revisit the previous two seasons.
Previous Texans schedules
The 2018 Houston football schedule was the NFL’s 4th easiest and yet the team set out on unseen troubled waters, sinking to 0-3 to start their 2018 journey. They proceeded to rattle off 9 straight wins after a Week 4 overtime victory over in-state rivals the Dallas Cowboys.
The club finished 11-5 despite trading Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle before the season opener. Houston disappointed against Andrew Luck and the Colts in a home Wild Card loss that lacked any real sense of urgency. Despite the signs that the ship was sinking early in the game, the Texans failed to start any kind of rally.
Houston owned the 4th most difficult strength of schedule in the NFL a year later in 2019. They lost their third straight season opener to the New Orleans Saints in an instant classic. The team then went on to win their 4th AFC South division title in 5 seasons with notable wins over the Chiefs and Patriots.
However, Houston somehow suffered indefensible regular-season losses to the Panthers and Broncos. The Texans AFC Championship dreams were doused by a furious Chiefs’ rally in the Divisional round, creating the momentum that would not stop until Kansas City was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Fun fact: Houston never won more than two games in a row last season. They never suffered back to back losses either.
Hot Out of the Gate: Rematch with the Super Bowl Champs
The Texans schedule appears to be somewhat front-loaded. During the first quarter of the season 3 games will come against playoff teams from a year ago.
Houston will begin the 2020 regular season where their postseason came to screeching halt, in Arrowhead Stadium. The NFL’s regular season will open with Deshaun Watson and company traveling to face league MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in a Thursday night showdown.
All eyes will be on this game as the anticipation for the return of football will be unlike any other this year. This will also be the only occasion that we will witness “Prime-Time Watson” in 2020.
The Texans split games versus the defending Super Bowl champions a season ago, posting 66.6 and 58.8 team grades (9th & 16th highest out of 18 games) according to PFF. There is room for the Texans to play better football.
The addition of rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Hellaire to the Chiefs backfield will test a Texans defense that had trouble with Damien Williams in their post-season loss to Kansas City. Williams exploded for three total touchdowns in the come-from-behind victory over the Texans in the divisional round. Two of the scores came on the ground on only 12 attempts while Williams added another score through the air on 2 receptions.
Houston won the first meeting 31-24 in week 6 of 2019. The two clubs are 5-5 in the regular season against each other all time. The difference is the Chiefs own both wins in the only two playoff match-ups (2016, 2019). The most recent playoff debacle was the 51-31 Divisional round loss that sent the Texans home a week after escaping Buffalo in the Wild Card round.
Weathering the Storm: Early 2020 Match-Ups
The Texans schedule has them come back home to host the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2. Lamar Jackson and Baltimore rolled the Texans at M&T Bank Stadium to the tune of 41-7. The Ravens have won 9 of 11 meetings between the two franchises. Getting the chance to host one of the best young teams in the NFL will be challenging for Houston. The Texans hope that playing in front of a home crowd will give them the boost they were missing the last time.
This match-up will showcase more young talent at the quarterback position. MVP hopefuls Watson and Jackson should light up television sets in what will be Houston’s first and only Sunday afternoon game of the season. The Texans run defense will be under the microscope as they face Jackson, Ingram, Hill, and newly acquired Dobbins. This is a good spot early in the season to see what 2nd round pick Ross Blacklock is made of.
Week 3 in Pittsburgh will most likely be headlined by the reunion of the Watt brothers. Derek Watt joined brother T.J. with the Steelers earlier this off-season and will host big brother J.J. at Heinz Field.
Deshaun Watson was out for the season with a knee injury the last time these two clubs faced off and the Steelers blew past Tom Savage and the Texans, 34-6. This season will be better for Pittsburgh as Big Ben Roethlisberger is slated to return from injury. Not having a back-up QB under center this season will be beneficial for all Pittsburgh skill-position players. The Texans are also familiar with former Colt Eric Ebron who now joins Vance McDonald in the tight end room for the Steelers. On the other side of the ball the Steelers’ defense played lights out for the majority of 2019. Houston travelling out to the Steel City in Week 3 will be no walk in the park.
Gary Kubiak will be calling plays for the Minnesota Vikings during the Week 4 match-up that will also see another former Texans head coach on the Minnesota sideline. Dom Capers will be assisting on the defensive side for the purple and yellow. It will be the first time that all 3 former Texans head coaches (Capers, Kubiak, Bill O’Brien) will be in the same building (NRG Stadium) for a game.
Historically Minnesota has owned Houston, winning all 4 games since 2002. Dalvin Cook will lead the charge while Kirk Cousins will use play-action and selective passes to receivers Adam Thielen and rookie Justin Jefferson.
Back-to-back Divisional games
The schedule appears to progressively lighten for the Texans. The real tests come early, but getting out of the gate hot has never really been the Texans’ method of operating. It would behoove them to win at least 2 out of 4 in the early going. Holding a tie-breaker win over either KC and BAL (or both) could be key to a crucial 1st round bye come playoff time.
The schedule opens up for Houston rather nicely in Week 5 as they host Jacksonville in the first of two meetings in 2020. Houston will also face the Jaguars in Florida in Week 9 after a bye. The Texans are 11-7 all-time on the road versus the Jags and have won 23 of 36 games in their history. The Texans swept the Jags last season with the first win coming in a hard-fought 13-12 battle. Houston absolutely dominated Gardner Minshew II in London by the score of 26-3. If the second year signal-caller out of Washington St. wants to get the first win of his career versus Houston then he would be inclined to get rid of the ball quicker. Minshew was sacked on 7 occasions, threw 3 interceptions, and fumbled the football 5 times in games against the Texans last year.
The following week has the Texans travelling to Nashville to face another divisional foe, this season with starters in tow [Houston rested their starters versus the Tennessee Titans in Week 17]. The Titans victory over the Texans in the final week ultimately propelled the old Oilers franchise into the playoffs.
Former Texan Jonathan Joseph will be in new colors facing his old teammates, which might be helpful for insight on how Titans rookie cornerback Kristian Fulton is to handle the speed of the Texans receiver crew. Joseph is a 14 year veteran who spent his last 9 seasons in Houston. He’s a savvy cover corner that mentored the Texans current defensive backs. His time facing Will Fuller and Deshaun Watson in practice could prove to be invaluable for the Titans this season.
The Texans and Titans have been evenly matched historically speaking. The winner of this first match-up and the season finale will hold the aces when the playoff wave rolls in.
A second challenge from the NFC North comes in Week 7 when the Green Bay Packers come to NRG Stadium. The teams last faced each other in 2016 when the Texans fell 21-13 at Lambeau Field. The Packers have a 3-1 all-time edge, and another tough team at home is a welcomed test for a Texans squad that needs to prove themselves against the top competition. Aaron Rodgers going head to head with Watson should make for great Sunday morning football.
Smooth sailing the rest of the way?
Houston’s bye week comes mid-season in Week 8, followed by the second encounter with Jacksonville in Week 9. The Texans then travel to Cleveland in Week 10. The Texans intercepted then-rookie Baker Mayfield 3 times at home in a 28-13 victory in Houston back in 2018. Houston has a 7-3 record versus the Browns in their history.
In Week 11 the Texans will host a Brady-less New England team. It is virtually the same team they beat last season in a prime-time match-up by the score of 28-22, but now with Jarrett Stidham at the helm. Stidham has virtually no experience at the NFL level. Former Texans signal-caller Brian Hoyer is on New England’s roster as insurance as well as a veteran voice in the QB room.
For the first time since Week 1, the eyes of the nation will be back on Deshaun Watson. It may not be a prime-time game, but it will be the only one on during that time slot when families gather around the dinner table and give thanks for the turkey, beer, and football.
That’s right, Week 12 is a Thanksgiving Day feast at Ford Field. The Texans have had the Lions number over the years, going 3-1 since 2002.
Week 13 finally brings up the first of two games against the new-look Colts. The last time these two teams faced-off the Texans narrowly escaped the Thursday night battle with a 20-17 victory. The recent historical success for the Texans versus Indy has come during the departures of quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. The Colts hold a dominant 28 wins and 9 losses all-time against Houston.
Read more about the New-Look Colts Here
The addition of Philip Rivers in free agency is a cause for concern for the Texans defense. Adding Michael Pittman Jr and Jonathan Taylor to the mix could be trouble. They all face off again 2 weeks later on the weekend before Christmas (usually flexed to Saturday).
The last of the NFC North opponents are hosting in Week 14 at Soldier Field, Chicago. The Texans have dominated the Bears since they joined the league (4-0) and last won 23-14 back in 2016. Mitchell Trubisky was selected in front of Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL draft. Aside from his second season in which he lead the Bears to an 11-3 record, Trubisky has been disappointment. Now the Bears have brought in the ultimate back-up/starter in Nick Foles to address the quarterback issues in the Windy City. The uncertainty at the most important offensive position for Chicago may still be beneficial for Houston in Week 14. This is the final game in the elements for Houston as they finish off with 3 dome games.
Sandwiched between the December 13 game in Indianapolis and the season finale against the Titans is the bout with the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16. Deshaun Watson got his first start and win on his birthday September 14, 2017, against the Bengals.
The Texans run game will meet up with former DT D.J. Reader, who signed with Cincinnati this off-season. Houston has an 8-4 all-time advantage over the Bengals and several of those have been for division titles and playoff wins. Will Joe Burrow change the fortunes of a downtrodden Cincinnati squad in 2020? Let’s hope not!
2020 Schedule takeaways
The biggest take away from the Texans 2020 schedule is that there are no Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football games allotted for Houston this season. It’s a bit strange considering Watson is a marquee name for the league. The abundance of early games in the 2020 schedule could serve to keep the Texans under the radar until the playoffs.
But let’s not forget, in the first 3 weeks NFL fans can watch:
- Week 1: Watson vs. Mahomes
- Week 2: Jackson vs. Watson
- Week 3: Mahomes vs. Jackson
The season Thursday night opener, Week 2 vs. BAL, and Thanksgiving Day games are the only match-ups where the Texans will be featured outside of the early (noon) Sunday time slot. Of the 16 games scheduled in 2020 Houston will play 10 inside domes and 6 outside in the elements.
It will be interesting to see how the Texans attempt to navigate the tumultuous waters the schedule makers have laid before them.
Miles Peacock is a content writer covering the NFL’s Houston Texans and various fantasy topics. He is a regular contributor for the Timeskewed.com and Rumboyz.com fantasy sports websites. Follow Miles on Twitter @FF_Peacock.