First-year Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien, an East Coast guy through and through, is certainly getting an Eastern introduction to his new job.
The Texans play three NFC East teams in the first five games of the upcoming 2014 season, including a Sept. 7 home opener vs. the Washington Redskins and the highly-anticipated regular season clash with the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5 on Oct. 8. That's just part of the slate revealed in the NFL's now holiday-like schedule release — a buzzy event that's turned into another professional football TV night.
Less than two hours before the Houston Rockets would take the court for a crucial playoff game, Texans fans found out what their team's road back to relevance looks like.
The game at Jerry World will be one of the most anticipated Texans games ever.
The Texans play three of their first five games on the road and face another stretch of three road trips in four games — highlighted by an Oct. 20 Monday Night Football date in Pittsburgh — but they get to close at home with matchups against the Baltimore Ravens (and former coach Gary Kubiak) Dec. 21 and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 28.
If the Texans are fighting for a playoff berth late in the season, that finish could be an advantage.
Having arguably the best defensive player in the NFL in J.J. Watt, one of the most exciting offensive weapons in all of football in Arian Foster and a wide receiver still putting up crazy numbers at age 32 in Andre Johnson — not to mention holding the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft — apparently still isn't enough to entice the networks too much. The Texans only get two prime time games this season — the Monday nighter against Pittsburgh and a game vs. the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 9 in the now much more high-profile CBS Thursday Night slate.
That's less than half the total of prime time games Houston played in both 2012 and 2013. The stink of 2-14 certainly lingers some.
Still, the game at Jerry World will be one of the most anticipated Texans games ever. Patrick Ryan — co-owner of The Ticket Experience, a Houston-based ticket broker — tells CultureMap that it's going to be one of the five highest priced regular season games on the secondary market this year. Not just the Texans' highest price game. One of the highest priced games in the entire 256-game strong NFL schedule.
"I think it’s great," O'Brien says of the Cowboys matchup. "I think Texas is such a great football state. The city of Houston is a football city and any time you have the two pro teams in the state of Texas playing each other, that’s a fantastic thing for the National Football League and great for both fan bases.
"It’s an exciting time for both teams.”
Tony Romo won't be the only controversial quarterback the Texans face off against. They get Robert Griffin III, trying to pull off a comeback season, in the opener, and old friend Matt Schaub in Week 2 game at Oakland.
The Texans' complete 2014 regular season schedule:
Sunday Sept. 7 Washington Redskins Noon
Sunday Sept. 14 at Oakland Raiders 3:25 p.m.
Sunday Sept. 21 at New York Giants Noon
Sunday Sept. 28 Buffalo Bills Noon
Sunday Oct. 5 at Dallas Cowboys Noon
Thursday Oct. 9 Indianapolis Colts 7:25 p.m.
Monday Oct. 20 at Pittsburgh Steelers 7:30 p.m.
Sunday Oct. 26 at Tennessee Titans Noon
Sunday Nov. 2 Philadelphia Eagles Noon
Sunday Nov. 9 BYE
Sunday Nov. 16 at Cleveland Browns Noon
Sunday Nov. 23 Cincinnati Bengals Noon
Sunday Nov. 30 Tennessee Titans Noon
Sunday Dec. 7 at Jacksonville Jaguars Noon
Sunday Dec. 14 at Indianapolis Colts Noon
Sunday Dec. 21 Baltimore Ravens Noon
Sunday Dec. 28 Jacksonville Jaguars Noon