Texans' 2008 schedule released

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Linebacker DeMeco Ryans and the Texans will play eight games against 2007 playoff teams in the upcoming season, including the franchise's first-ever Monday Night Football game at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 1.

The Texans' 2008 schedule is highlighted with matchups against opponents from the NFC and AFC North divisions, but the main event will be the franchise's first-ever Monday Night Football game, to be played in Week 13 on Dec. 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It will be the first Monday Night Game in the city of Houston since Nov. 21, 1994, when the Oilers faced the New York Giants.

"I'm very excited about the Houston Texans getting a Monday night football game," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "That's a credit to this football team, to the players and the way they handled a chance last year to be on a prime-time game and to our city and the direction that we are heading.

"I know everybody is really excited about that. I know our players feel good about that because they feel like they earned the right to play in one of those games this year. They were bouncing around today when they saw they were going to have a chance to do that."

Among those bouncing around at the news of the Monday night game was Texans Pro Bowl middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

"(We) finally got one," Ryans said. "It's prime time, Monday night, something that we've been looking for. We've been sitting at home watching Monday Night Football for the past couple years, and now it's our time to get our shine on Monday night and I know we're all going to be pumped about that, our first Monday night game here with the Texans.

"Everybody's going to be excited. It's going to be one of the biggest games that we've had here as an organization."

Starting on the roadHouston opens the regular season on the road for the first time since 2005 when they travel to Pittsburgh. The Texans won the last time they ventured to Heinz Field, 24-6, despite gaining only 47 yards of total offense. Houston is 3-3 in season openers and 1-1 in season openers on the road.

Houston will look to improve its 2-4 record in home openers when it hosts the Baltimore Ravens at Reliant Stadium in Week 2. The Texans then travel inside the division over the next two weeks with road matchups at the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars to end September. The Texans' three road games in September are the most in team history.

Houston begins the month of October at home against Indianapolis. It will be the fourth of the Texans' first five games that comes against a 2007 playoff team, and the only one the Texans will play at Reliant Stadium.

"It's a difficult beginning, but you know it's going to be that way when you are playing in a division that six games are going to be played against playoff football teams to start with," Kubiak said. "(The schedule) is very, very challenging, but we know what we are looking at now and we can focus on Pittsburgh as we go through training camp. I'm very excited about it."

The Texans then host Miami for the third consecutive year. Houston concludes the longest home stand in team history when they welcome the Detroit Lions to Reliant Stadium for the first time. Houston wraps up the month with their bye week, meaning the Texans will not leave the city of Houston the entire month of October.

The Texans end the first half of their season with their first trip to Minnesota to take on the Vikings.

Coming home in the final eight
Since Kubiak's arrival, the Texans have played better in the second half of the season, posting a 9-7 record in the last two seasons. Houston hosts the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10 before traveling to Indianapolis and Cleveland to conclude November.

For the third consecutive year, the Texans will have three home games in the month of December, beginning with their initial appearance on Monday Night Football when division rival Jacksonville comes to town. Houston owns a 4-2 record against the Jaguars in Reliant Stadium.

Houston then will travel to Green Bay to face the Packers at historic Lambeau Field for the first time in team history. With their trips to Minnesota and Green Bay this season, Houston will have gone to every NFL city either in preseason or regular season.

In the Packers game, Texans running back Ahman Green will face his former team for the first time since he signed a free agent contract with the Texans during the 2006 offseason. Though he expects at least a little bit of trash talk from his ex-teammates, Green looks forward to returning to the city in which he earned four Pro Bowl invitations from 2002-2005.

"I think it's going to feel good," Green said. "It'll be kind of a homecoming because I still have a home there, still have friends there and guys on the team that are friends. So, I'd say for myself, it's going to be fun. But looking at the schedule, it's in December, so I'm going to tell my buddies down here, 'Hey, just be ready for the cold weather, because by that time it's usually when it gets below the freezing point.'"

The Texans welcome the Tennessee Titans to Reliant Stadium before traveling to Oakland for the third consecutive season. The Texans conclude their regular season at home for the sixth time in seven seasons when they host the Chicago Bears.

The NFL will continue to implement flexible scheduling for Week 11-17 to ensure the best matchups of the week. The NFL has the option to inform teams 12 days in advance that their Sunday afternoon game will switch to Sunday night and will be aired on NBC at 7 p.m. The Texans' Monday Night Game in Week 13 against Jacksonville will not change.

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Italic games can change to 3 p.m. or 7 p.m. due to flex scheduling, and could move from CBS or Fox to NBC.PostseasonJan. 3-4Wild Card WeekendJan. 10-11Divisional PlayoffsJan. 18Conference ChampionshipsFeb. 1Super Bowl XLIII, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, Fla.Feb. 8AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, Honolulu, Hawaii

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