2011-2012 is the sixth season this team has been in existence, and fans are hoping it will be significant in that it will mark their first trip to the playoffs. This isn’t the first year that experts have felt they were on the verge of a breakout year. Unfortunately, the best result from those expectations has been a 9-7 finish in 2009. This has put head coach Gary Kubiak under the microscope, as the team’s talent level hasn’t been questioned.
2011 may be different, however, for several reasons. Perhaps the most important one has nothing to do with the team themselves. Instead it has to do with Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning being out for the season (or most of it) with injury. The Colts are the perennial front-runners in the Texans’ division. Without Manning, the division appears to be wide open. I will be sure to keep by eyes and ears open for this situation to play off in my favor. I know that I can’t wait for the first chance to use my Texans tickets to a playoff match up.
Fittingly, they open the season against the Colts. This game has become something of a barometer of things to come for the rest of the year. In the past, if they could at least split the season series with the Colts it was considered a victory overall. This year, without Peyton Manning in the picture, they will have to win both games with the Colts to prove their legitimacy.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier after the Colts as they have to travel to New Orleans in week 3 to play the Saints. Quarterback Matt Schaub will go head-to-head with Saints quarterback Drew Brees in what should be an offensive slug-fest. The Saints game is followed up by the Steelers at home in week 4. The punishing Steelers defense will test the true resiliency of the Texans offense. Arian Foster, the league’s leading rusher in 2010, will have to play his best game against a tough Steelers defensive line.
In week 6, they face another stingy defense when they travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis leads the Ravens defense, and their shut-down secondary will attempt to contain superstar receiver Andre Johnson. If they make it past the Ravens with a good record, they will be in good shape as the toughest part of the schedule will be behind them.
In week 13 they play host to the Atlanta Falcons, who owned the league’s best record in 2010. Then, in week 16, they play at the Colts to finish out the season series with Indianapolis.
Anything less than 10-6 will be a disappointment for the Texans in 2011-2012. They have a supremely talented offense and a quick and swarming defense. As long as everyone stays healthy, the team should be able to remain competitive with the best teams in the league in 2011. And fans hope they will be watching their team for the first time in mid-January.
Sunday 9/11 vs. Indianapolis Colts
Sunday 9/18 at Miami Dolphins
Sunday 9/25 at New Orleans Saints
Sunday 10/2 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday 10/9 vs. Oakland Raiders
Sunday 10/16 at Baltimore Ravens
Sunday 10/23 at Tennessee Titans
Sunday 10/30 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday 11/6 vs. Cleveland Browns
Sunday 11/13 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday 11/20 BYE WEEK
Sunday 11/27 at Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday 12/4 vs. Atlanta Falcons
Sunday 12/11 at Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday 12/18 vs. Carolina Panthers
Thursday 12/22 at Indianapolis Colts vs.
Sunday 1/1 vs. Tennessee Titans