No prime-time games for Texans

Before Cal McNair teed off at the Texans’ annual charity golf tournament on Monday, he spent several minutes discussing an upgraded roster and a productive offseason headlined by hiring former Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans as head coach.

“You just have to look at the roster, and I think it’s a better roster this year,” McNair said. “Very competitive. I see a lot of progress, a lot of good things on the way. We think we had a good offseason.”

However, the NFL schedule-makers didn’t display the same confidence in the Texans’ competitiveness or national relevance after three consecutive losing seasons even after hiring Ryans and drafting Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud and Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. with the second overall and third overall picks of the first round . The Texans weren’t designated for any prime-time games when the full regular-season schedule was announced Thursday night. That could change under flex scheduling later in the season depending on how the Texans perform.

The Texans, 3-13-1 a year ago, will test their overhauled roster on Sept. 10 when they open the season on the road with a noon kickoff against the Baltimore Ravens and former NFL MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, who recently signed a five-year, $260 million contract.

Their first home game is Sept. 17 against the AFC South rival Indianapolis Colts, followed by a road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Texans have the third-easiest NFL schedule as their opponents had a combined record of 123-163-2 last season for a .431 winning percentage.

They start every game at noon except for a Dec. 3 game against the Denver Broncos and new coach Sean Payton at 3:05 p.m.

Most predictions for the Texans range between four and six victories, a slight improvement after a dismal season last year under former coach Lovie Smith’s leadership.

The Texans have a solidly-placed open week on Oct. 22.

A potentially intriguing matchup is set for Oct. 29 on the road against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers drafted Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, a former Heisman Trophy winner, first overall, one selection before the Texans drafted Ohio State star quarterback C.J. Stroud.

The Texans’ revamped defense, led by Ryans, the architect of the San Francisco 49ers’ top-ranked defense last season when he was named NFL Assistant Coach of the Year, will be tested on Dec. 10 against New York Jets veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a former NFL MVP traded from the Green Bay Packers this offseason.

Former Texans Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson, traded a year ago at his request after a legal controversy involving multiple lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct with the majority of them settled, faces his former team on Dec. 24 when the Cleveland Browns visit NRG Stadium.

The Texans’ preseason schedule starts on Aug. 10 on the road against the New England Patriots followed by a home game on Aug. 19 against the Miami Dolphins and concludes Aug. 27 against the New Orleans Saints on the road.

Just like last season, the Texans’ regular-season finale is on the road against the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Last year, winning that game cost the Texans the first overall pick and the opportunity to draft Young, a diminutive consensus All-American passer.

“We’ll play anyone, anywhere, so let’s go,” McNair said Monday. “We’ll play out here on the golf course or in the parking lot.”

Texans 2023 schedule:

·Sept. 10 at Baltimore Ravens CBS Noon

·Sept. 17 Indianapolis Colts FOX Noon

·Sept. 24 at Jacksonville Jaguars FOX Noon

·Oct. 1 Pittsburgh Steelers CBS Noon

·Oct. 8 at Atlanta Falcons FOX Noon

·Oct. 15 New Orleans Saints FOX Noon

·Oct. 22 Bye

·Oct. 29 at Carolina Panthers FOX Noon

·Nov. 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers CBS Noon

·Nov. 12 at Cincinnati Bengals CBS Noon

·Nov. 19 Arizona Cardinals CBS Noon

·Nov. 26 Jacksonville Jaguars CBS Noon

·Dec. 3 Denver Broncos CBS 3:05 p.m.

·Dec. 17 at Tennessee Titans CBS Noon

·Dec. 24 Cleveland Browns CBS Noon

·Dec. 31 Tennessee Titans FOX Noon

·TBD at Indianapolis Colts TBD TBD

Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans

Photo: Getty Images

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