HOUSTON – The defending AFC South champion Houston Texans will play five nationally televised games, including the first Thanksgiving game in franchise history, in the 2012 season, the NFL announced today. The Texans play on ESPN's Monday Night Football at the New York Jets on Sept. 8 and at New England on Dec. 10, and will play on NBC's Sunday Night Football at home against Green Bay on Oct. 14 and at Chicago on Nov. 11. Houston will play at Detroit on Thanksgiving at 11:30 a.m. CST.
The Texans had three prime-time games in 2010 and have appeared as the nation's featured evening matchup 11 times in the franchise's 10 seasons. Defending division champions Green Bay (NFC North) and Baltimore (AFC North) highlight the home schedule; and Houston plays three playoff teams on the road, at Detroit, AFC champion New England and AFC West champion Denver.
The Texans open the season at Reliant Stadium for the sixth time in head coach Gary Kubiak's seven-year tenure, on Sept. 9 at noon, against the Miami Dolphins. Houston is 6-0 all-time against Miami and has won all three matchups at home in the series. Miami last visited Houston in 2008, a 29-28 Texans win. Three of Houston's six wins were decided in the last minute of the game.
The road slate opens with games at AFC South rival Jacksonville on Sept. 16 and at Denver on Sept. 23. The Texans, who defeated the Jaguars 20-13 on the road in 2011, are looking for back-to-back wins at EverBank Field for the first time in franchise history. Long-time nemesis, quarterback Peyton Manning will be under center for the NFL's top rush offense in 2011 when the team travels to the Mile High City in Week 3.
Houston plays host to Tennessee at Reliant Stadium on Sept. 30 before back-to-back prime-time matchups against the Jets and Packers. Four of the last five meetings between the Texans and Titans have been decided by three points or less in Houston, including a 23-22 Texans loss last December. The Texans will be in search of their first-ever win against the Jets and lost 30-27 in their last visit to MetLife Stadium. Green Bay's only other visit to Reliant Stadium was also a Sunday night affair, in 2004, with the Packers winning 16-13.
Houston remains at home the following week, playing host to defending AFC North champion Baltimore on Oct. 21. The Ravens defeated Houston twice last season in Baltimore, a 29-14 win in Week 6 and a 20-13 win in the AFC Divisional Playoff. Baltimore defeated Houston 34-28 in overtime in its last trip to Reliant Stadium, in Week 13 of 2010.
The Texans have an open date in Week 8 and return to action against the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 4 at Reliant Stadium. Buffalo owns a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series in Houston, winning 24-21 in their last visit in 2006. Houston heads back to Chicago for the first time since a 24-5 victory in 2004 on Sunday Night Football the following week.
Four of Houston's last seven games are against AFC South foes, including two of its last three games against Indianapolis. The Texans play host to Jacksonville on Nov. 18 and own a 7-3 record against the Jaguars in the all-time series at home. That game is followed by the first three-game road stretch for the Texans since the opening three weeks of the 2008 season. It begins with the Thanksgiving game at Detroit on Nov. 22 and is followed by a Dec. 2 matchup at Tennessee and the Monday Night game at Gillette Stadium against New England.
The Texans play host to Indianapolis on Dec. 16 and remain at Reliant Stadium to face the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 23. Houston has won its last two home games against Indianapolis, season-opening wins in 2010 and 2011. The Vikings, who the Texans also play at Reliant Stadium in an August 30 preseason tilt, will make their first regular season trip to Houston since a 34-28 Minnesota overtime win in 2004.
Houston closes the season on the road at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 30 against the Colts. It marks the first time since 2005 that the Texans will close out the regular season on the road. The Texans are 0-10 all-time as visitors against the Colts, including a 19-16 loss last December.
Other items of note on Houston's 2012 schedule include:
• The Texans will face three of the NFL's top five offenses (New England, second; Green Bay, third; Detroit, fifth) and three of the top 10 defenses (Baltimore, third; New York Jets, fifth; Jacksonville, sixth) from a year ago.
• Houston will face the top rushing offense (Denver) and the NFL's second-ranked passing offense (New England) from a year ago.
• The Texans face several individual leaders from 2011, including the NFL's top two rushers in Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew (1,606 yards) and Baltimore's Ray Rice (1,364 yards). Rice also led the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage. Jones-Drew was second with 1,980 yards.
• Houston will also defend against the reigning receptions leader (New England's Wes Welker, 122) and receiving yards leader (Detroit's Calvin Johnson, 1,681).
• The Texans' offense will face some of the NFL's best defenders in New England CB Kyle Arrington and Green Bay CB Charles Woodson, who tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions a year ago. Houston also faces NFL sack leader Jared Allen (22.0) of the Minnesota Vikings and AFC sack leader Terrell Suggs (14.0), of Baltimore.
• Several individual AP and PFW/PFWA 2011 award winners grace the Texans' 2012 schedule: NFL MVP, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers; Comeback Player of the Year, Detroit QB Matthew Stafford; Defensive Player of the Year, Baltimore LB Terrell Suggs; Defensive Rookie of the Year, Denver LB Von Miller; AP Offensive Player of the Year, New Orleans QB Drew Brees.
HOUSTON TEXANS 2012 SCHEDULE
*Italics indicates kickoff times can change to 3:00 or 7:15 p.m. due to flexible scheduling, and could move from CBS or FOX to NBC
*All kickoff times Central
- Televised Nationally
Home Games in BOLD
All games are broadcasted live on 100.3 KILT FM and SportsRadio 610 AM
Spanish broadcasts on La Tremenda 1010 AM