Houston Texans schedule analysis

Breakdown: We already knew the Texans were going to have the third weakest strength of schedule in the NFL before the schedule release, and that they were to face only one road opponent that had a winning record in 2013. Last season figured to be perilous, as the Texans faced a first-place schedule and the daunting NFC West. This season, a last-place schedule and the less formidable NFC East will offer a smoother road for new head coach Bill O'Brien and his staff. There aren't any major road trips on this schedule; the longest the Texans will be on the road is back-to-back, which happens twice -- with the Raiders and Giants in Weeks 2 and 3, then the Steelers and Titans in Weeks 7 and 8. If anything is at stake late in the season, the Texans will be in a good position to take advantage of it. They have two home games, against Baltimore and Jacksonville, to finish the season.

Complaint department: Don't have too many complaints here, but those back-to-back road games against Pittsburgh and Tennessee could be tough considering the Texans will be playing on Monday night against the Steelers. As usual, their schedule is backloaded with divisional games. Four of the Texans' five final games will be against AFC South teams, including two against the Jaguars in December.

Reunited: Former Texans who might have chips on their shoulders get to face the Texans in Weeks 2, 11 and 16. First, quarterback Matt Schaub, traded away after losing his starting role, and defensive end Antonio Smith, who departed in free agency after being told he'd be used as a third-down rusher, get to host the Texans in Oakland in Week 2. In Week 11, the Texans will visit Cleveland, where they'll see running Ben Tate, who left Houston in free agency to a contract that pays him $6.2 million over two years to be a starter. In their second-to-last game of the season, a home game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Texans will see Gary Kubiak, the coach who was fired last December. He'll bring with him former Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, now the Ravens' quarterbacks coach, and former Texans tight ends coach Brian Pariani. Also returning that day will be former Texans tight end Owen Daniels. When Daniels was asked by reporters in Baltimore what it will be like to return to Houston, he said, "What Steve Smith said," to laughs. Here's to blood and guts!

Strength of schedule: 30th, .441 | Vegas over/under: 8.5

Texans Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, Washington, 1 p.m.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, at Oakland, 4:25 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, at NY Giants, 1 p.m.

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28, Buffalo, 1 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, at Dallas, 1 p.m.

Week 6: Thursday, Oct. 9, Indianapolis, 8:25 p.m.

Week 7: Monday, Oct. 20, at Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m.

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, at Tennessee, 1 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, Tennessee, 1 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.