Breakdown: The lone prime-time game in 2011 was on the road, and the AFC South champs didn’t feel like they had a sufficient chance to show off to a broad audience. They'll get that chance in 2012.
Five times they will play in the national spotlight, but only one of those games will be at Reliant Stadium -- Oct. 14 against Green Bay. That’s one of two games in the best of the prime-time slots, "Sunday Night Football" on NBC. The other is at Chicago on Nov. 11. Also nationally televised: at the Jets on Oct. 8 and at New England Dec. 10 on "Monday Night Football," and at Detroit on Thanksgiving.
From Oct. 14 through Nov. 4 the Texans won’t leave Houston, with three home games and their bye. That includes a Nov. 4 visit from the Buffalo Bills and defensive end Mario Williams, who left Houston for the Bills as a free agent.
Complaint department: The Texans drew two cold-weather games. They’ll play at Chicago on Nov. 11 and at New England on Dec. 10 in a couple of games that will be challenges. But if they can block for Arian Foster, they'll be able to handle the weather slowing down their precision, rhythm passing game. Four of the team’s final six games are on the road.
Major gift: No matter how good Andrew Luck gets in his first NFL season, the Texans have to love their final three games -- the Colts at home; the weakest team in the NFC North, the Vikings, at home; and at Indianapolis. Houston’s chances for a big finish look good on paper. (I renew my complaint over a major pet peeve. Games between division rivals should take place a minimum of one month apart.)
Texans Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, Miami, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, at Denver, 4:15 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Monday, Oct. 8, at N.Y. Jets, 8:30 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, Green Bay, 8:20 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, at Chicago, 8:20 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 22, at Detroit, 12:30 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Monday, Dec. 10, at New England, 8:30 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, Indianapolis, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, Minnesota, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM