2018 Houston Texans game-by-game predictions

Here’s a game-by-game prediction of how the 2018 season might go:

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, at New England Patriots, 1 p.m. ET

The Texans will start the season with one of their toughest games of the year in what could be a fun rematch from 2017. Last September, quarterback Deshaun Watson had his coming-out party, throwing for 301 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He gave the Texans a chance to win with less than three minutes remaining before Tom Brady led the Patriots on a game-winning touchdown drive. This game will be close, but it'll have the same result. Record: 0-1

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. ET

Houston will see a familiar face early in the season with former defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel on the opposing sideline as the Titans' head coach. This will be another close game, but Tennessee will take the win at home as the Texans get off to a slow start. Record: 0-2

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, vs. New York Giants, 1 p.m. ET

The Texans should get back on track in their home opener with a victory over the Giants. Although New York is a talented club that hopes to bounce back in 2018, much like the Texans, Houston will pull it out at home. Record: 1-2

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET

The Colts will be a tougher test with the return of Andrew Luck, but a healthy Texans defense should get Houston to .500 after a tough start. Record: 2-2

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, vs. Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m. ET

The Texans’ first prime-time game of the season comes in Week 5 when they host the Cowboys. Dallas recently released wide receiver Dez Bryant and has had an otherwise quiet offseason. The teams haven’t played since 2014 when the Cowboys won in overtime at home. This game at NRG Stadium will go the other way, though, and Houston will have its first winning record of the season. Record: 3-2

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, vs. Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET

Buffalo and Houston haven’t played since 2015, but the Texans have won three of the past four games between the teams. Outside of running back LeSean McCoy, the Bills don’t present much of a threat offensively and the Texans will win their third game at home. Record 4-2

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET

The Texans are 6-2 against the Jaguars under head coach Bill O’Brien, and both of those losses came in 2017 when Jacksonville went from worst to first to win the AFC South. This game won’t be as ugly as Houston’s season-opening debacle last season, but the Jaguars will continue the trend and come out on top. Record: 4-3

Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 25, vs. Miami Dolphins, 8:25 p.m. ET

Miami will get Ryan Tannehill back but he probably is not enough to bring the Dolphins back to the playoffs. Watson gets hot and leads the Texans to a big win. Record: 5-3

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, at Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m. ET

The Texans will face their former quarterback Case Keenum, who signed with the Broncos in free agency after an impressive season with Minnesota. Keenum spent parts of three seasons in Houston, going 2-8 as a starter, but he won’t beat his former team. Record: 6-3

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m. ET

This game could be a tough test, depending on how Alex Smith is doing with his new team. Coming off a bye, though, Houston will continue its winning streak. Record: 7-3

Week 12: Monday, Nov. 26, vs. Tennessee Titans, 8:15 p.m. ET

This game probably won’t be a repeat of the 57-14 trashing the Texans put on the Titans at home a year ago. At this point in the season, though, Houston will get an important division win. Record: 8-3

Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 2, vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET

Cleveland should be better than the 0-16 team it was last season, regardless of what it does with two of the first four overall picks in the draft, but Watson and the Texans should be able to handle the Browns and continue their win streak. Record: 9-3

Week 14: Dec. 9, vs. Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET

O’Brien always emphasizes winning within the division as a key to taking the AFC South. To go from worst to first this season, the Texans will need to take advantage of the Colts and win both games against them. Record: 10-3

Week 15: Saturday, Dec. 15, at New York Jets, TBD

A late-season trip to MetLife Stadium will be the Texans’ fourth and last prime-time game of the season, and the only one on the road. The Texans will continue this long stretch of success with a victory against the Jets. Record: 11-3

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m. ET

This could be a shootout between two talented, young quarterbacks in Watson and Carson Wentz, but the Eagles’ defense will prevail and the defending Super Bowl champions will beat the Texans in what could be a thriller if Houston remains healthy. Record: 11-4

Week 17: Dec. 30, vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET

The Texans should be much improved from a year ago, but they will still get swept by the defending AFC South champions for the second year in a row. But, if the Texans can go 11-5, they'll be in a great position to reach the playoffs and potentially win the division. Record: 11-5