The Texans will play a franchise-record five games on national television in 2012, including on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in team history.
The NFL released team schedules Tuesday evening and the Texans will be prominently featured, with two Sunday night games, two Monday night games and a Thanksgiving match-up at the Detroit Lions.
For the fourth consecutive season the Texans will open the season at home-September 9 against the Dolphins. Even though he is no longer in the AFC Central, the Texans did not escape facing Peyton Manning since Houston travels to Denver September 23.
The prime-time games include the Jets in New York Monday, October 8; the Packers at Reliant Stadium Sunday, October 14; at the Bears Sunday November 11; the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit November 22 and a Monday night tilt against the Patriots December 10.
"That's a credit to the team, the players, and the job they did," said coach Gary Kubiak about all the prime time games in 2012. "We do get some opportunities to play in some big primetime-type football games. Our games, throughout the season, are kind of all over the map so that's a big challenge for us, but it's one that I'm looking forward to. We knew we had a tough schedule coming, and that's part of it but we'll be ready to go."
Beyond playing Manning and the Broncos, the Texans will face elite quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
During a four week stretch from October 14 through November 4, the Texans will have three home games plus the bye week (October 28). They will see Mario Williams and the Bills at Reliant November 4th.
Due to the number of prime-time games, Kubiak will have an extra challenge in maintaining a routine but he will gladly make the adjustments.
"I think it's awesome," he said. "You've got two Monday Night Football games, both on the road against two great football teams. If you look over the course of the last three or four years, the job the Jets and Patriots have done, so that's a big challenge for our football team. We played pretty well on the road last year. There won't be anything bigger than what we've got to go do at those two places, plus Chicago on a Sunday night. We'll have to be a good road football team to go out there and win our games and those two challenges, yet the opportunity is tremendous."
Kubiak will also have a very short week in the middle of November due to the Thanksgiving game at Ford Field.
"I've done it before," said Kubiak. "That's just a tough week. It's a tough turnaround, but there is a reward after it. You get a chance, almost like an extra bye week after that game, to freshen up coaches and freshen up players as you go into the month of December, which is usually a big, big month in this league."
Houston's opponents had a combined record of 121-135 in 2011 for a winning percentage of .473. That ties the Texans for the third-easiest schedule in the league based on last year's results, along with the Buffalo Bills. Only New England (.453) and Green Bay (.469) face schedules with lower combined win percentages.