With the Texans coming off a breakthrough season in 2011 and looking forward to a very competitive schedule in ’12 they need to be ready for the bright lights of prime time.
And no, I’m not talking about the former player, I’m talking about the real Prime Time, as in Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, Thanksgiving Day football, and even Thursday nights on NFL Network.
The way the Texans opponent lineup sets up, there could be as many as five possibilities for prime time games for the Texans.
First, let’s discount any games against AFC South opponents. While there’s still blood hatred for Tennessee, the Texans – Titans rivalry is not a huge national draw, especially since the Titans have slipped and missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons. The Colts and Jags have new head coaches and are in the midst of turnover so I don’t see any potential for prime time games there either – unless, of course, Peyton somehow returns to Indy.
As far as the other Texans home opponents, I don’t see Miami, Buffalo and Minnesota as good prime time candidates, and for road games I’m not seeing a whole lot of potential for prime time matchups with Denver or Chicago. Although the Denver game could be a possibility given you-know-who at QB/RB and our head coach’s ties to the Broncos organization.
That leaves five games, as I see it, on the leaderboard for possible Texans prime time games in ’12.
- Green Bay at Houston – The Packers have a huge national following and this one is very intriguing from the aspect of two high powered offenses and Dom Capers (if he stays) and Wade Phillips facing off
- Baltimore at Houston – Rematch. Say no more. The Texans are sick of the Ravens and are ready to break through on them after suffering two tough losses in the last three matchups between the two teams. There’s a budding rivalry here, even though the Texans are 0-6 against the Ravens all-time.
- Houston at New England – The AFC Championship that should have been.
- Houston at New York Jets – Because they’re the Jets and for some reason the media still loves their fat, loud mouthed, foot fetish addicted head coach. Plus, there’s the NY market factor.
- Houston at Detroit – CBS is carryiing the early Thanksgiving Day game this season so they need a strong AFC team to put in that slot. The Lions only other AFC home opponent in ’12 is the Colts so this one is almost a given, unless Peyton decides to return to Indy this year, in which case it could become a toss up between the Texans and Colts. I cringe at the thought of Suh driving Schaub’s shoulder into that hard artificial turf.
Plus, don’t forget about the Thanksgiving night game, which this year will be broadcast by NBC instead of the NFL Network.
In all likelihood the Texans won’t have five prime time games but I see those mentioned as the leading candidates. We won’t know until the schedule is released in April.
At any rate, given their 2-5 record in prime time during the Kubiak era, the Texans need to improve their performance when the bright lights come on.
The Texans last win in prime time was in 2008 when they defeated the Jaguars in their first appearance on Monday Night Football.