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Vandermeer's View: Nothing comes easy

The first thing I look at when the schedule comes out is primetime games on the road. The players can say what they want, but I often think getting back in the wee hours from a night road game takes a little bit of a toll. The Texans are at New Orleans in the early game of the Monday night opening double-header in Week 1. That's like playing down the street. The big problem will be Drew Brees in the Superdome. And trying to unveil the 2019 offense in one of the toughest and loudest gyms in the league.

The other primetime games are at home with the Colts in Week 12 on a Thursday and the Patriots the following week on a Sunday night. It's great to get the mini-bye after facing Indy. And the road team in a Thursday night game has a big disadvantage, having to get on a plane three days after playing. Although that didn't stop the Colts from winning on Thursday night here in '14 and '15.

Speaking of Indy, this is the first time since 2010 that the Texans will not play the Colts in December. Every team will close with a division foe. And for the Texans, it's Tennessee, here. The trip to Nashville is only two weeks prior. There's nothing easy about any NFL game, but it's notable that Houston will not face Indy, New England, New Orleans or Kansas City in the final four games of the year.

The London trip is Week 9. It's too bad it has to be against Jacksonville, an organization that knows the routine better than any. Plus it eliminates a 'close' road trip to North Florida. The 8:30 a.m. CT kickoff means, by my calculations, the team will get back to Houston between midnight and 1 a.m. But the return travel time is not that important, because the bye is next.

My buddy, John Harris, pointed out that the opposing QB lineup is pretty scary. It goes Brees, Foles, Rivers, Cam, Matt Ryan, Mahomes and Luck, to start. And seeing Luck and Tom Brady back-to back with six games remaining in the season is no picnic.

You never know how the schedule will play out. The division could be the toughest in football. And the non-division games are super strong. It's nice to not have to go to Foxborough, but that's somewhat cancelled out by having to travel to Kansas City and New Orleans. In any case, we'll be there to cover all the storylines, all the drama, as the Texans aim to keep their division crown in an effort to go on a big postseason run.

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