By SHAUN BIJANI, SportsRadio 610By Shaun Bijani

HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – We have talked plenty about the lack of respect the Texans have received over the years. However, I’m not sure respect in the form of gaining more national exposure was ever really warranted before.

That is no longer the issue, after a 10-6 finish to the regular season last year, making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history and winning a game in the post-season, this team arrived during the 2011 season and now they’ve been rewarded.

The Texans will play in 5 nationally televised games during the 2012 season, 4 of them will be on the road in some difficult places to try to steal a win. Granted, it’s the NFL, it is hard to win anywhere, but going to Chicago with Jay Cutler‘s new weapon in Brandon Marshall, going to the Jets, where a hungry Mark Sanchez very well could reign supreme (at least Rex Ryan better hope so), traveling to New England (need I say more) and playing on Thanksgiving day in Detroit, going up against the dirtiest player, assuming Ndamukong Suh hasn’t been suspended for that game, it will be fun, exciting, challenging but very difficult.

Matt Schaub even before he was aware of how many prime-time/national TV games the Texans would play was indifferent about the schedule. Schaub, on Texans All-Access on Tuesday, was concerned with the long days the Texans will endure preparing for said games, “stewing” over those games, trying to go into them with the same mindset as if they were a regular season Sunday afternoon game against whoever.

That is a sentiment Texans tight end Owen Daniels shared as well when he joined us on the “Odd Couple” show last night. He noted that there will certainly be a different mentality going into those games, there will need to be a sense of urgency by this team to recognize and play like they are in fact the “hunted” now.

The exposure the Texans will get this next season is well deserved and the league respects what Bob McNair, Rick Smith, Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips are building, but will they capitalize? Will they show the NFL, the fans and the opposition that last season wasn’t an aberration?

A key stretch of games I think will determine just how tough, strong willed and good this team will be next season, health aside.

From week 3 through week 7, the Texans will travel to Denver to take on Peyton Manning, will host the Titans, travel to New York to take on the Jets then host the Packers for back to back nationally televised games and prior to the bye week will have their rematch with the Baltimore Ravens, who knocked them out of the post-season last year.

If the Texans can make it through that stretch unscathed in terms of not having sustained any major injuries to key players that will be a plus, but if they can also pick up 3 wins along the way, that will be a victory.

I hate predicting games, but it’s key to realize that a team that has never swept their division, never swept the Colts will have a tougher schedule than most think this season and are going to have to prove again they can go on the road and steal some games in which they, according to the “experts” shouldn’t necessarily win.

The exposure is absolutely deserving Texans, you’ll be in the spotlight at least five times this season, but a lot more than that if you take care of biz!


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