TEXANS OPEN ON THE ROAD

Dissecting the Houston Texans 2023 schedule

Dissecting the Houston Texans 2023 schedule
The Houston Texans open the season in Baltimore. Composite Getty Image.

The 2023 NFL schedule has been released, and the new-look Houston Texans know exactly when they will face off against this year’s foes.

There are several eye-popping details in Houston’s 2023 schedule. The No. 1 being the Texans will not have a single prime time game, at least to begin the year. There is always the possibility a game gets flexed later on, which would mean Houston is having an impressive season, but as of now, the league doesn’t believe they will.

What's missing? No prime time games.

With the NFL abolishing the guarantee that each team will get at least one prime time game, Houston did not notch even a Thursday Night game.

Houston’s first four weeks of the season will be a difficult challenge in what could be Stroud’s first month as a starter in the NFL. Facing off against the Ravens right out of the gates would put the young quarterback in a tough and hostile environment if he is a starter from day one.

Trying to contain Lamar Jackson and that offense will also be a difficult task for head coach DeMeco Ryans and defensive coordinator Matt Burke as their first challenge together with Houston. At least they have almost four full months to build their game plan against the explosive, star-led offense.

The Colts will be in a similar position to the Texans in week two in that they will be trying to find an identity early, so that matchup could make for a fun and entertaining game.

Houston’s week three matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road will be a great barometer to see how the Texans stack up against what is expected to be the AFC South’s top team in 2023.

Houston wraps up week four against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who’s vaunted defense led by T.J. Watt will cause problems for Stroud or whoever is under center for the Texans.

The schedule eases up in weeks five through nine. Houston faces off against Atlanta and New Orleans and then will have a bye week before playing against the rest of NFC South in Carolina and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

These four games in five weeks could offer the best opportunity for the Texans to come away with multiple victories in a row, as the NFC South is expected to have a down year.

Houston could have its toughest challenge of the year in week 10 against one of the AFC’s expected Super Bowl contenders in the Cincinnati Bengals. The Texans follow up that formidable test with what is expected to be their easiest game of the season — a battle against the Arizona Cardinals in week 11. There is just one caveat, there are no guarantees in the NFL.

The Texans host the Jaguars in week 13. That will be a great opportunity to see how Houston, and in particular Stroud, has grown from the early weeks of the season.

Weeks 13 and 14 against the Denver Broncos and New York Jets are complete wild cards in that both teams are led by veteran, star quarterbacks whose best days could be behind them. By this point it will be clear whether Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers have been able to recapture their magic or if they are still struggling like they did in 2022.

The Texans will not see the Tennessee Titans until week 15, which is an interesting schedule quirk. By this point, both teams will have a solid idea of who they are. It could also be the first time Stroud and Will Levis face off against each other.

Week 16’s game for Houston will be on Christmas Eve. The weather inside NRG Stadium will be frightful when Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns return.

If Stroud has put together an admirable rookie season and the Texans are anywhere close to or even above .500, the atmosphere for this game will be absurd. Regardless, there will be a lot of Houston fans hoping to hand the former franchise quarterback a lump of coal in the form of a loss for Christmas.

Week 17 will see Houston play against Tennessee again. With it being the Texans’ final home game of the regular season, it could make for a fun New Year’s Eve party at NRG Stadium. Considering both teams will be just two weeks removed from playing each other, it could be a grueling, physical contest.

Houston ends its season on the road against the Colts. The final game of the regular season will offer one last opportunity for both Stroud and Anthony Richardson to put a stamp on their rookie years. Who knows, perhaps even one of them will be eyeing the postseason.

With the schedule now out, Sept. 10 cannot get here soon enough.

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With both Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers making their way back from surgeries that sideline that Astros pitchers last season, and given the team's thin depth in their starting rotation, Houston fans and media have waited on bated breath for scraps of information to leak out of the notoriously secretive organization regarding their progress.

In a week full of mostly Hurricane Beryl-related bad news, the Astros organization had some discouraging news of their own when manager Joe Espada told the media that Lance McCullers has been shut down from pitching after his arm did not respond well to his latest bullpen session. The team says they are "formulating a plan for what's next."

Another Astros starter making his way back from injury is HOF-bound Justin Verlander. Verlander has been on the IL since June 16th with neck discomfort and, while there was initial hope that JV would only miss a start, his status has become increasingly murky as he is still apparently not close to returning.

Shifting from the health questions of the starters to the performance questions of the bullpen, some Houston fans have voiced concern via social media that Astros big-ticket 9th inning pitcher Josh Hader is not looking like a "shut-down" closer. Hader gave up more home runs in the first week of July (3) as he did the entire month of June (2).

In this week's episode of Stone Cold Stros, Charlie Pallilo and Brandon Strange discuss how the fluid dynamics of Astros pitching is impacting the competitive landscape of the division race. To watch the conversation, just click the video YouTube embedded in this article. To listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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