Vandermeer's View: Texans headed to Mexico

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The Texans will play in front of their biggest crowd ever, possibly the most to see an NFL game, when they face the Oakland Raiders at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on November 21.

The last time the NFL was there was back in October, 2005, in the league's very first regular season game on foreign soil. Arizona thumped San Francisco 31-14 behind six field goals from former Texan Neil Rackers. Alex Smith (we know him too well) completed his first NFL pass in mop up duty for the 49ers. The Oilers last visited in a 1994 preseason game against Dallas that drew 112,376 fans, an NFL record.

This will be one of the most iconic stadiums the Texans have visited. Azteca is where Diego Maradona scored the "Hand of God" goal in the 1986 World Cup. It also hosted the "Game of the Century," when Italy knocked off West Germany 4–3 in extra time in one of the 1970 semifinal matches.

And now the NFL returns for the first time since that 2005 NFC West matchup that drew over 103,000 fans. David Carr's little brother will lead the Raiders. Both teams should be in the thick of the playoff hunt in the AFC. The drama will be delicious in front of a wild crowd.

It'll be up to Bill O'Brien to try to keep the team in rhythm during what should be a very different week. No word on when the team will fly down, but you can bet it will be earlier than the normal 24 hour arrival time. The good news is that, as opposed to a trek to London, this is only a two hour, fifteen minute flight to a city that's in the same time zone as Houston. Heck, you can drive there in about 17 hours.

Another factor regarding the game is altitude. Mexico City is 7,382 feet above sea level. That's almost 2,000 feet higher than Denver, or 40 percent of a mile. Hydration will be a big internal topic for both teams.

It'll be interesting to see how many Texans fans either make the trip or already reside in Mexico City. During the Cards-Niners matchup over a decade ago there were apparently more Cowboys fans than anything. But times have changed and this game presents a great opportunity to showcase the Texans to the Mexican audience.

The NFL has played games at Estadio Azteca in Mexico in the past, including the league's first international regular season game in 2005 between the 49ers and Cardinals.

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