Houston Texans 2013 Schedule Analysis

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<p> Houston Texans 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>

The Houston Texans have won two straight division titles, but have yet to advance beyond the divisional round of the playoffs. Can this team be a Super Bowl contender this season? Here's our look at the Texans' 2013 NFL schedule.

Houston Texans 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at San Diego (Mon.)
Week 2: Tennessee
Week 3: at Baltimore
Week 4: Seattle
Week 5: at San Francisco
Week 6: St. Louis
Week 7: at Kansas City
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Indianapolis
Week 10: at Arizona
Week 11: Oakland
Week 12: Jacksonville
Week 13: New England
Week 14: at Jacksonville (Thurs.)
Week 15: at Indianapolis
Week 16: Denver
Week 17: at Tennessee

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Out of the Gate: It's a tale of two halves to Houston's opening month. The Texans first two games are at San Diego and home to Tennessee, two teams that finished below .500 last season. The last two games, however, are at Baltimore, the defending Super Bowl champions, and home against Seattle, a team that won 11 games in 2012. The Texans should be able to use the first two weeks of the season to work out the kinks in hopes of being at the top of their game by Week 3.

Toughest Stretch: After getting the opportunity to somewhat ease into the season, the Texans face one of the most difficult three-game stretches of any team in the NFL starting in Week 3. Not only does Houston have to go to opposite coasts to play both Super Bowl teams (Baltimore and San Francisco) on their home turfs, the Texans also have Seattle, another playoff team last season, sandwiched in between at home. That's 32 regular-season wins, seven more victories in the playoffs, two conference titles and a Vince Lombardi Trophy accumulated by these three teams last season. Many expect Houston to contend to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVIII. This three-game gauntlet will be as good a barometer as there is to test this theory.

Swing Games: at BAL (Week 3), NE (Week 13)
Crossover Divisions: AFC West, NFC West
Bye Week: Week 8
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .473 (T-26th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 29th

Easiest Stretch: Coming out of its bye in Week 8, Houston gets four winnable games to prepare them for the big showdown versus New England. First, it's home against Indianapolis, followed by a road game at Arizona. Then its back-to-back home games against Oakland and Jacksonville, two teams that combined for six victories last season and don't figure to be that much better this fall. The Texans shouldn't be tested all that much in these four games, giving them ample time to get ready for the Patriots' trip to Reliant Stadium in Week 13.

Circle The Calendar: It's three straight weeks of must-see matchups for the Texans starting with a trip to Baltimore in Week 3. Not only would the defending Super Bowl champions like to exact some revenge for last season's 43-13 loss to Houston, former Raven Ed Reed will be on the opposite sideline of M&T Bank Stadium for the first time in his career. After that it's home against Seattle followed by a trip to San Francisco. These two defenses will offer good tests against Houston's offense and potentially could end up being a preview of Super Bowl XLVIII. Of course, New England and Denver could have something to say about which team wins the AFC crown, and it just so happens that the Texans get both on their home turf. The Patriots beat the Texans by a combined score of 83-42 in two meetings last season, both of these in Foxborough, Mass., while Houston was the only team in the regular season to beat Denver at home (31-25 in Week 3).

Divisional Notes: Houston plays just one AFC South opponent (Tennessee in Week 2) prior to its Week 8 bye, meaning the Texans will get a double-dose of the Colts and Jaguars in the second half of their schedule. Indianapolis is on the docket first, in Week 9, with three of Houston's final four games being divisional games, and all of them on the road. The beginning of this stretch is a trip to Jacksonville, which may not seem that daunting. However, it is worth noting that this game is on Thursday night and the Texans will be coming off of their battle with New England that prior Sunday.

Playoff Push: This is how the Texans' December slate looks: New England and Denver at home coupled with road games against all three AFC South foes. The Patriots come calling the first Sunday in December, with Houston looking to finally flip the scoreboard on Bill Belichick's team. Then it's at Jacksonville the following Thursday and a trip to Indianapolis before coming back home for the Broncos in Week 16. The two home contests more than likely will have some say in playoff seeding, but the Texans can ill afford any slip ups on the road in their division either. A seemingly harmless Week 17 loss to the Colts last season ended up costing the Texans a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the AFC Divisional round. That meant the Texans first had to beat Cincinnati in the Wild Card game, which they did, but then they had to play the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., instead of getting them at Reliant Stadium. And everyone remembers what happened in that game, especially Houston.

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): That sound you hear is Arian Foster owners salivating over the Texans’ first two playoff opponents. Jacksonville and Indianapolis finished 29th and 25th in fantasy points allowed to RBs last season, respectively. Granted, things get much tougher with a championship week matchup against Denver (3rd against the run in 2012) looming, but did we mention the first two games are versus the Jaguars and Colts?
 


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)

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