Scheduling conflict
Scheduling conflict
2011-04-26 00:00:00

By Greg Tepper //

Maybe there will be football on Sundays in the fall.

In case you didn't hear, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ended the lockout yesterday with a ruling that sided with the players. The NFL, of course, will appeal the ruling, as it's not favorable to the owners.

I'm not going to pretend to be a legal expert, but from the dozens of articles I've read, the consensus is clear: the chances of a normal NFL season in 2011 are better now than they were this time yesterday.

Of course, it's still important to issue the the same disclaimers that we invoked when breaking down the Dallas Cowboys' schedule last week.

That is, this article could be completely moot by the time the fall rolls around.

Still, we'll give the Houston Texans' schedule, released last week, the same treatment: ranking the games on the schedule from most winnable to least winnable.

The Texans didn't get the best draw in the league -- in fact, their schedule is the 10th most difficult in the league. But it's not without its share of winnable games to go along with the brutal ones.

Let's start the rankings with the most winnable game.

16) Dec. 18 vs. Carolina

The Panthers are drafting first this week for a reason: they were miserable all around. Even better for the Texans: they catch the Panthers at home, and Carolina was winless on the road in 2010.

15) Nov. 6 vs. Cleveland

Another very winnable home game for the Texans, the Browns were a mere 2-6 on the road in 2010.

14) Jan. 1 vs. Tennessee

Tennessee is a hard team to read in 2011; they cut ties with Vince Young and longtime head coach Jeff Fisher. It's hard to imagine that the Titans don't struggle, and it's imperative for the Texans to win this game at home.

13) Dec. 11 at Cincinnati

Sure, it's on the road, but unless Carson Palmer decides to play like it's 2007, I can't imagine this being too big of a hurdle for the Texans.

12) Oct. 9 vs. Oakland

The Raiders will be one of those sexy sleeper picks before the season starts, and we'll know a lot more about them after their Week 5 visit to Reliant Stadium.

11) Oct. 30 vs. Jacksonville

If you the Texans have any hopes of competing in the AFC South in 2011, they must hold serve at home. It will also serve as a type of midterm for the Texans; not only is it in Week 8, but it's the second in a string of three quite winnable games.

10) Sept. 11 vs. Indianapolis

Here's a dirty little secret that most people don't recognize: Indianapolis, though it won the division, wasn't a great team. They were the best team in the division, but they were hardly great. This is a winnable division for the Texans, and it starts right out of the gate with the division champs on their home turf.

9) Oct. 23 at Tenneseee

If Tennessee is truly going to be the worst team in the division -- and there's ample reason to believe they will be -- this is a game the Texans need to win.

8) Nov. 27 at Jacksonville

Remember last year's Houston at Jacksonville game? Hard to imagine the Texans don't have revenge on their mind for this critical Week 12 game. And the Texans have the luxury of two weeks to prepare, as the bye week precedes this contest.

7) Sept. 18 at Miami

This game should serve as an excellent early litmus test for Houston: Miami is an decent team without much of a homefield advantage (the Dolphins went just 1-7 at home in 2010).

6) Nov. 13 at Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay was arguably the best team not to make the playoffs last season, and with another year under his belt, QB Josh Freeman stands to be better. Traveling to Tampa will be no vacation for the Texans.

5) Dec. 22 at Indianapolis

The implications of this game, if Houston plays the way it wants to in 2011, will be enormous. And with a 6-2 home record in 2010, the Colts are still the kings until someone beats them at Lucas Oil Stadium.

4) Dec. 4 vs. Atlanta

Matt Ryan brings his high-flying offense to Reliant Stadium early in December for what could be a fun matchup. Will it be dome sweet dome on the road for the Falcons?

3) Sept. 25 at New Orleans

While the Saints were not the usual juggernaut they have been in the Superdome in past seasons, this is still not a particularly fun thought for Texans fans.

2) Oct. 2 vs. Pittsburgh

Well, hey, at least the defending AFC champions come to Houston!

1) Oct. 16 at Baltimore

There was only one scenario in which the Baltimore Ravens were better than usual: at home. The Ravens went 7-1 in Baltimore in 2010. Don't expect any different in 2011.

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