Early home games, including three in a row, on Houston Texans' schedule

The Texans eked into the postseason last year on the strength of their defense and could make a deeper run with an improved offense. Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has released its 2017 regular-season schedule. Here’s a look at what’s in store for the Houston Texans.

Breakdown: The Texans will get an early look at how they compare to the AFC’s best, when they travel to Gillette Stadium in Week 3 to play the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Because they play the Cincinnati Bengals the week prior on Thursday night, Houston will have 10 days to prepare for their game in Foxborough. The Texans will have at least four primetime games this season, including a Christmas Day matchup at home with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They will also play the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football in Week 12. The Texans again have the bye week falling at a good time, in Week 7, near the midpoint of the season.

Home cooking: Like last year, the Texans will start the season with the majority of their games at home. Before their bye, Houston plays four of their first six games at home, including three in a row from Week 4 to Week 6. The Texans will also open at home for the eighth time in nine seasons. On the flip side, this means that the second-half of the schedule has a tough road stretch: from Nov. 12 to Dec.17, the Texans will play four of six games away from NRG Stadium. Houston had a similar stretch last season, with four of five games on the road. They went 2-3 in those five games.

Familiar faces: The Texans will play the Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs again this season -- two teams they have seen a lot of lately. The matchups this season will be the fourth time in three seasons that the Texans have played each team, which is unusual for teams not in the same division. While the Texans beat the Chiefs in a close game at NRG Stadium last season, they have lost the last three -- all by at least 18 points. The Texans will get the Chiefs at home, but they will have to travel to Gillette Stadium again, where they have lost six straight games, including last season in the playoffs. The Texans will also continue their streak of playing the Bengals, as they will meet for the seventh time since 2011.

Strength of schedule: 18th, .480

Texans’ regular-season schedule (All times Eastern)

  • Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

  • Week 2: Thursday, Sept. 14, at Cincinnati, 8:25 p.m.

  • Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, at New England, 1 p.m.

  • Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, Tennessee, 1 p.m.

  • Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, Kansas City, 8:30 p.m.

  • Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, Cleveland, 1 p.m.

  • Week 7: BYE

  • Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29, at Seattle, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5, Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

  • Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12, at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19, Arizona, 1 p.m.

  • Week 12: Monday, Nov. 27, at Baltimore, 8:30 p.m.

  • Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, at Tennessee, 1 p.m.

  • Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, San Francisco, 1 p.m.

  • Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

  • Week 16: Monday, Dec. 25, Pittsburgh, 4:30 p.m.

  • Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.