Several months after a high-profile trade that sent former Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns as he received a $230 million fully guaranteed blockbuster contract, the AFC South franchise is scheduled to square off against the three-time Pro Bowl passer.
The NFL schedule has the Texans set to face the Browns on Dec. 4 at NRG Stadium.
Traded to the Browns in exchange for three first-round draft picks and other draft capital, Watson remains under an active NFL personal conduct policy investigation for 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and harassment and could face a potential suspension. He was not charged criminally by two Texas grand juries.
As the Texans continue to try to upgrade their team after a 4-13 season last year and overhauling their roster significantly since the hire of general manager Nick Caserio, they'll open the season at home Sept. 11 against the Indianapolis Colts and their new quarterback, Matt Ryan, following his trade from the Atlanta Falcons. They also close the season on the road against the Colts in the 17th game of the regular season.
Davis Mills is heading into his first season as the Texans' full-time starting quarterback after taking over from veteran Tyrod Taylor to end last year during his rookie season. The Texans drafted LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. in the first round along with Texas A&M offensive guard Kenyon Green.
"I think we're making some progress with the team," Caserio said following the NFL draft. "Continue to build the team here for the 2022 season. I would say there's definitely work in front of us."
After promoting former NFL Coach of the Year Lovie Smith to head coach from defensive coordinator as the replacement for David Culley, the Texans travel for their second game of the season and face the Denver Broncos and franchise quarterback Russell Wilson, who was acquired in a trade from the Seattle Seahawks.
The Texans travel to face the Chicago Bears, whom Smith once coached to a Super Bowl during his nine years in Chicago, in the third game of the season on Sept. 25.
The Texans have a relatively early bye -- Oct. 16 -- during the sixth week of the regular season. It's their earliest bye week since 2008 when Hurricane Ike forced a postponement of a game against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Texans have one prime time game, a Thursday night Prime game against the Philadelphia Eagles at NRG Stadium.
The Texans' schedule includes road games against the Las Vegas Raiders (Oct. 23), New York Giants (Nov. 13), Miami Dolphins (No. 27) and Dallas Cowboys (Dec. 11). The game at Las Vegas is the Texans' first road trip to Allegiant Stadium.
They have home games against Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers (Oct. 2), Washington Commanders (Nov. 20), Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (Dec. 18) in addition to their usual home-and-road matchups against AFC South opponents in the Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.
The Texans are 8-5 at NRG Stadium to open the season. They're 3-1 in those games against the AFC South division.
They close the season with three consecutive games against AFC South teams, including a Christmas Eve game against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday Dec. 24. They have a final home game of the regular season in Week 17 against the Jaguars before ending the season at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The preseason schedule starts with a home game against the New Orleans Saints followed by a road game against the Los Angeles Rams and a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers to be broadcast nationally on Prime.
The Texans are making single-game tickets available with the release of the schedule for the first time in franchise history.
“It’s normal to have sort of the business cycle in sports," Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair said during a 19th annual charity golf tournament. "We’ve always had the fans with us, and it’s exciting to have even more excitement than we’ve had the last couple years, due to whatever reasons. We’ve had a lot of different things impact us: attendance at the stadium and different things. So, we’re excited to get everything back together and going again.”