The Texans have four prime time games

Texans 2019 schedule announced

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The Houston Texans will play this schedule in 2019:

Week 1 - Texans at Saints - Monday Night Football - September 9

What a start! This will be the first of what is typically two Monday Night Football matchups. It will also feature the "A" Monday Night Football crew with Sean McDonough, Booger Mcfarland, and whoever replaces Jason Witten. It's the first trip to New Orleans since 2011 and the first game against the Saints since 2015.

Week 2 - Texans vs Jaguars - September 15

Houston gets to see new AFC South mainstay Nick Foles early in the year. It also means a likely healthy Jaguars team for the Texans to play against as well. Without much talent at wideout Foles might not be meshing with his pass catchers yet but the Texans hopefully new offensive line will be tested early.

Week 3 - Texans at Chargers - September 22

The first and what should be the last trip to the least advantageous home field advantage in football. The next time the Texans go on the road against the Chargers it should be in their fancy new stadium. This one will be in a soccer stadium. Fans not withstanding, the Chargers will be a tough out with Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, and Keenan Allen leading the way for the Bolts offense. They will also be wearing their Chargers powder blues as a home uniform. The last time the Texans played on the road against the Chargers was Monday Night Football to open the 2013 season. Brian Cushing, now a coach for the Texans, had an interception return for a touchdown.

Week 4 - Texans vs Panthers - September 29

Cam Newton has never lost to the Texans, including his rookie year visit in 2011. This could also be a rebuilt offensive line coming into NRG stadium as well. Newton had a bounce-back season in 2018 after a down year in 2017. If he's healthy this will be a tough game.

Week 5 - Texans vs Falcons - October 6

The last time Bill O'Brien's Texans played the Falcons it was one of the worst losses in franchise history. This time should be different and has shootout potential. This is also a potential landing spot for Houston's Ed Oliver that would be a fun homecoming.

Week 6 - Texans at Chiefs - October 13

How this game isn't primetime is beyond me. The Lions-Packers is Monday Night Football and the Chargers-Steelers is Sunday Night Football. Neither pairing is better than this game's potential. A showdown with the reigning MVP and one of Deshaun Watson's fellow first round QB's in Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs had one of the most dynamic offenses ever but Kareem Hunt is now in Cleveland and Tyreek Hill's status is up in the air. It will also feature an opportunity for Deshaun Watson to light up his former teammate Tyrann Mathieu. The last time the Texans played the Chiefs J.J. Watt broke his leg and Whitney Mercilus tore his pectoral in a shootout loss.

Week 7 - Texans at Colts - October 20

Andrew Luck and the Colts were better than the Texans in all three games last season even though they didn't win all three. They stopped the Texans in the playoffs and there's no reason to think they won't be the favorites early in the AFC South.

Week 8 - Texans vs Raiders - October 27

The hope would have been getting the Raiders earlier having it be a better matchup considering they will be working in so many new faces. The faces should be settled by now though so no advantage there. The Raiders last played at NRG in a playoff game where Brock Osweiler dueled Connor Cook.

Week 9 - Texans at Jaguars in London at Wembley Stadium - November 3

This is the Texans first trip across the pond. The Jaguars have played there plenty so you have to imagine they have a slight logistical advantage. It will be interesting to see when the Texans head over if they spend a whole week there or just a few days.

Week 10 - BYE - November 10

Bill O'Brien has almost always had his bye week in the middle of the season. The earliest it has come with O'Brien as the head coach is week seven. Also, having the bye week after London has to help a ton.

Week 11 - Texans at Ravens - November 17

A nice opponent coming out of the bye week. If Lamar Jackson has anything of substance as a quarterback it will be well known by now. Tom Savage was the quarterback the last time the Texans played the Ravens in 2017.

Week 12 - Texans vs Colts - Thursday Night Football - November 21

Not ideal to be playing on Thursday after a traditionally hard-nosed defense was the previous opponent. With a division matchup like this coming so late in the season, this could be a key game in the standings and a difference-maker in who wins the Division. It also could establish a tone out of the bye week should they beat Baltimore and take care of the Colts here.

Week 13 - Texans vs Patriots - Sunday Night Football - December 1

This doesn't feel like the best spot in the schedule. The Patriots are 61-11 in December with Bill Belichick calling the shots. The Texans have beat the Patriots once, 2010, in franchise history.

Week 14 - Texans vs Broncos - December 8

If the Broncos have a rookie quarterback after this year's draft I would expect they are starting here. The Texans have had lots of success against rookies in recent years.

Week 15 - Texans at Titans - December 15

A late appearance for the Titans and then you see them again in two weeks. This late in the season Mariota will probably already be hurt so the Texans may miss him. Of course, Blaine Gabbert the Titans backup beat them last year in Tennessee.

Week 16 - Texans at Buccaneers - December 21 or 22

This game could be on Saturday or Sunday depending on how the schedule shakes out. Jamies Winston at this point will have either played himself into the job or Bruce Arians will be scouring the college ranks for his next quarterback. This could be a bad team by the time the Texans play them or it could be a team that is surprisingly good. It will all depend on Winston. A Ryan Mallett led Texans beat the Buccaneers in 2015.

Week 17 - Texans vs Titans - December 29

It is nice to end the season at home and if the Titans are in contention this is a potential Sunday Night Football flex finale game.

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Good news for Jose Altuve. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

One never knows how things will play out but of the known General Manager candidates, Jim Crane nailed it in hiring Dana Brown out of the Atlanta Braves' organization where he was Vice President of Scouting. The 55-year-old Brown's scouting and development pedigree is stellar. The Braves have been a talent-producing machine in recent years. Obviously all the credit isn't Brown's but his four years with the Braves preceded by a productive pipeline he was part of in Toronto speak highly of him. Not that it was or should have been the guiding principle to Crane's decision-making, but the Astros now have the only African-American General Manager in Major League Baseball (Ken Williams is Executive Vice President of the Chicago White Sox).

Brad Ausmus is a super-smart guy, but if had he gotten the GM gig it would have been in large part because he was teammate besties with Jeff Bagwell. While “It's not what you know it's who you know” plays a role in many, many hires, it would have been a poor rationale for tabbing Ausmus. Maybe Ausmus would have done a great job. Maybe Brown does a lousy job. Brown was the much more strongly credentialed candidate. While Bagwell has moved way up Crane's confidante list, Brown played college baseball with Craig Biggio at Seton Hall.

Speaking of Halls…

If I could tell you as absolute fact that exactly two members of the 2023 Houston Astros will someday make the Baseball Hall of Fame, who are you picking? Jose Altuve isn’t a lock just yet but he is obvious pick number one. So for the second spot are you going with Alex Bregman or Yordan Alvarez? We’ll get back to this a couple of paragraphs down.

As was basically a given, former Astro (and Phillie, Met, Red Sox, and Brave) Billy Wagner was not elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week, but as I suggested last week the voting returns were very favorable toward Wagner making the Hall next year, or if not next year in his final year of eligibility on the Baseball Writers Association ballot for the Class of 2025. “Wags” in the Class of ’24 is looking good. Wagner jumped from 51 percent to 68 percent “put him in” votes. The only guy this year to get the necessary 75 percent for election is worthy third baseman Scott Rolen. Two years ago Rolen got 53 percent of the votes needed, last year 63 percent, before getting the call to Cooperstown with 76.5 percent this year. Wagner going from 51 to 68 to 75-plus looks likely. Of course it’s not as if Wagner can pad his case with a good 2023 season, but this is how the process works. The other ballot returnee well positioned to make it next year is former Colorado first baseman Todd Helton. Unlike this year there’s a sure-fire first time ballot guy going in next year. Third baseman Adrian Beltre will undoubtedly wear a Texas Rangers cap on his plaque.

As expected Carlos Beltran didn’t come close to election in his first year of eligibility, but drawing 46 percent of the votes sets him up well to eventually get the Cooperstown call. Beltran was a fabulous player and his Hall credentials are solid. However, no one reasonable would argue that Carlos Beltran was as good or better than Barry Bonds. In his first year of eligibility back in 2013 Bonds garnered 36 percent of the vote. There has been some turnover in the voter pool over the last decade, but it's clear that Beltran’s central role in the Astros’ sign stealing scheme was not held against him to the extent that PED use (actual and/or suspected) was held against Bonds and Roger Clemens. And Alex Rodriguez. And Sammy Sosa. And Manny Ramirez. And others. Foremost right now that’s encouraging for Beltran, but it’s also encouraging down the line for fellow Astros of 2017-18.

What does this mean for Jose Altuve?

If Jose Altuve retired today (perish the thought!) he’d have a good case for the Hall. He had superstar seasons in 2016, 2017, and 2022, and has five other seasons that while not in the realm of his three best certainly rate as excellent. If you judge a player by his five best seasons, there aren’t 10 second basemen in the history of the sport who’d rank ahead of Altuve. Among those who clearly would: Joe Morgan, Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, and Nap Lajoie. Among those four only Morgan played more recently than 1937. Then there’s a group of arguable guys like Jackie Robinson, Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar, and yes Craig Biggio. Altuve has had the prime of a Hall of Famer. What sort of final numbers will he accrue? In late May or early June he should reach the 2000 hit plateau. How many more prime years does Altuve have left before inevitable decline? His career batting average is .307. Four years ago it was .316. Will Altuve retire a .300 hitter?

Bregman or Alvarez? Bregman gets extra points for being an everyday third baseman as opposed to a left fielder-designated hitter, but by age alone Yordan is the better play. Bregman turns 29 on opening day this year. Yordan doesn’t turn 26 until late June. When Bregman was 25 (2019 season) he put up a season more valuable than Alvarez’s tremendous 2022. In the three years since Bregman hasn’t approached that level, though his big second half last season could be a springboard back to that stratosphere. Yordan is in that stratosphere and figures to stay there for a while if his health holds up.

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Stone Cold ‘Stros is the weekly Astro-centric podcast I am part of alongside Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule it airs live at 3PM Monday on the SportsMapHouston YouTube channel, is available there for playback at any point, and also becomes available in podcast form at outlets galore. Such as:

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