With sports finally starting to be reintroduced into society, Last Word on Pro Football is breaking down the schedules of all 32 NFL teams. This series will consist of the most difficult (1-8) and easiest (9-16) games among each team’s 16-game slate. The focus for this article is the toughest games on the 2020 Houston Texans schedule.
Houston Texans Most Difficult Games in 2020
1. Week 1: at Kansas City Chiefs
It’s a tough way to kick off the season for the Texans as they travel to Kansas City to take on the Super Bowl Champions on the road. Perhaps worst of all, it is the kickoff game of the season for the NFL on Thursday night. The eyes of the nation will be on the defending champs and the new-look Texans, without star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Surely the Texans have a bad taste in their mouth after blowing a 24-0 lead against the Chiefs in last year’s playoffs. But will revenge be enough to take down 2018 NFL MVP Pat Mahomes and the high-powered Chiefs on primetime? We shall see on the second Thursday in September.
2. Week 2: vs. Baltimore Ravens
As if the matchup in Week 1 is not difficult enough, Houston welcomes reigning NFL MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2. Last November, the Ravens had their way against Houston with a 41-7 victory in Baltimore. Houston’s defensive front will need to find answers to slow down the rushing attack of Baltimore. Something they were unable to do after yielding over 250 yards on the ground in last season’s matchup. Buckle up! Baltimore made improvements in the off-season and have the eyes on the Lombardi Trophy.
3. Week 6: at Tennessee Titans
This AFC South battle will shape the landscape of the division. Traveling to Nashville is not an easy task for any team, especially with running back Derrick Henry (2019 NFL Rushing Leader) in the Titans backfield. Houston’s 3-4 defense has taken its fair share of punishment on the ground for the last couple of years. By Week 6, the hope is that rookie defensive lineman Ross Blacklock will be able to clog up holes at the line of scrimmage. Therefore, allowing tackling lanes for the linebackers to penetrate the backfield.
4. Week 3: at Pittsburgh Steelers
It will be a family reunion of sorts in Pittsburgh for the Watt family. Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt will square off against his brothers T.J. and Derek. But after a tough first two weeks of the season, the Texans will not be offering a brotherly hand to the Steelers. Last season, the Steelers fell just shy of a playoff berth without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But Roethlisberger is back and ready to prove he still has some magic in his right arm. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will be a handful for a pedestrian Houston secondary. And the Steelers front seven is one of the best in the league. Additionally, head coach Mike Tomlin will have the Steelers prepared and ready to defend their home turf.
5. Week 4: vs. Minnesota Vikings
Perhaps the league’s most intriguing team, the Minnesota Vikings head south in Week 4 to tangle with the Texans. After a tough first three games for both the Texans and Vikings, this tilt can swing the season either way. Former Texans head coach Gary Kubiak returns to Houston as the Vikings offensive coordinator. If Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has his team hitting their stride after three games, this will be an uphill battle for the Texans defense. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook provides the unique ability to exploit a defense between the tackles as well as bouncing outside. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will be able to find holes in the Vikings defense. But he will need to orchestrate touchdown drives to keep up with the Vikings.
6. Week 15: at Indianapolis Colts
Going into the season, the Colts are the favorite to take home the AFC South title. They have added 38-year old veteran quarterback Philip Rivers in an attempt to get them to the next level. Rivers and head coach Frank Reich will be the most cerebral duo in the league. Despite his age, Rivers’ leadership and experience will be an asset to the young Colts. The Colts offensive line is near the top of the league rankings. It will be up to the Texans defensive front seven to create penetration and make Rivers uncomfortable in the pocket. Although the games have been close over the years, the Texans have not been consistent at Lucas Oil Stadium. This Week 15 matchup could be pivotal for the race for the AFC South crown.
7. Week 10 at Cleveland Browns
The Texans travel to the Dawg Pound in mid-November to take on the Cleveland Browns. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield says he is taking a different approach this season. Rightfully so, after a poor sophomore season. But don’t feel sorry for Mayfield. The Browns offense is absolutely loaded. First of all with a pair of Pro Bowl wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. Secondly, the Browns boast the NFL’s top running back tandem with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Finally, this off-season, they added coveted free agent tight end, Austin Hooper, from Atlanta. But the Browns defense has plenty of holes for Watson to pick apart. Get your popcorn ready! This game will be an offensive explosion and a lot of fun to watch.
8. Week 7: vs. Green Bay Packers
Before the Week 8 bye week, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers come to Houston. The Packers have the 2019 touchdown leader with running back Aaron Jones and added rookie A.J. Dillon in the backfield. Rodgers’ primary target on the outside Davante Adams will cause the Texans secondary fits. And if wide receiver Devin Funchess can find some consistency and a rebirth in Green Bay, the Packers can be lethal offensively. The Packers defense was up and down in 2019 and will be the same this season. Therefore Watson, with the help of wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller IV, should be able to rack up yardage. Despite a brutal first half of the season, mark this one down as essential for the future of Houston’s head coach Bill O’Brien.