The Texans will start the 2011 season just like they started the 2010 one: At home against the Indianapolis Colts.
They beat their division rivals 34-24 at Reliant Stadium in 2010 behind 231 rushing yards from Arian Foster. It was only the second time the Texans have beaten the Colts in 18 tries.
"That's familiar ground," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "Opening day, we know each other very well."
Like the rest of us, Kubiak found out the Texans' 2011 schedule on Tuesday. A four-game stretch to start the season that features games against the Colts, New Orleans Saints and defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers quickly caught his attention.
"In our first four games, we play three playoff teams, and one that was in the Super Bowl," Kubiak said. "The other thing that jumped at me is that we play New Orleans in the preseason and early during the season, and that was the case for Dallas last year. Other than that, it's a tough schedule just like they all are."
One advantage to the Texans' tough opening stretch is that none of their first four opponents – Colts, Dolphins, Saints and Steelers – changed head coaches after last season. That stability could come in handy while preparing for those teams during the lockout.
"There are no changes in their staffs, coordinators, any of those things," Kubiak said. "So what we'll do if this (lockout) does continue after the draft is we will go ahead and get a head start on those first four opponents, because there's not going to be much change in what they're doing philosophy-wise. If anything, that's also a plus for us as coaches because if we do not have the OTAs right now, which we sure hope we have, then we've got to stay focused on those types of things."
The Texans' 2011 schedule is balanced throughout. They play 15 games on Sundays, 13 of those at noon CT. They don't have more than two consecutive games at home or on the road all season. And they'll have only one cold-weather game, at Cincinnati in Week 14 on Dec. 11. All of their other road games are either indoors, in Florida or in September or October.
The Texans' bye is in Week 11, which Kubiak was happy to see.
"I do not like having bye weeks early in the season," he said. "We had one last year after six games. I like the idea of having the one right around Thanksgiving and getting fresh for the end of the season."
The Texans' one primetime game is on Thursday Night Football at Indy in Week 16. The Dec. 22 game will be televised on the NFL Network at 7:20 p.m. CT.
"Any time you play on a Thursday, it gives you a chance to freshen up your team throughout the weekend and then come back and get into your normal week routine," Kubiak said. "(With) the bye week being in Week 10 and that happening in Week 16, there's a couple opportunities right there for you to get coaches and players fresh. But it's hard to think about that number 15 (game). Let's think about number one right now."