Texans Looking to Reverse Rivalry

Is Sunday's game a bigger deal for the Texans than the Colts? Is this a one-sided rivalry? Why isn't there more animosity between these two division foes? Brad Keller takes a look at the history of the rivalry with JagNation.com's Charlie Bernstein.

First and foremost, Sunday's showdown with the Texans is not one that the Colts are taking lightly.  It is a conference game, a division game, and the first game of the regular season, so they will be ready to play.  They're anxious to get to games that count and put a dreadful preseason in the rearview mirror.

For the Texans, Sunday's game marks an early chance for Houston to gain an advantage over the team they've been looking up at in the standings since they came into the league in 2002.  Indianapolis is the 800-pound gorilla in the AFC South, having won the division six times in the eight seasons since the realignment.


The Texans know that taking the next step means beating Indianapolis
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Texans registered their first winning record in franchise history in 2009 and know that they need to get through the Colts to claim the division title and secure a trip to the postseason.

Charlie Bernstein of JagNation.com weighed in on the passion Houston has for beating the favorite in the division: "The Texans have spent much of the offseason talking about beating the Colts but until they do it's pretty much just talk," he said. "They see the Colts as the 'gold standard' and are building their team in the same way, hoping to replicate the success.  Although there's a moderate amount of hatred, there's complete respect for the Colts from everyone in the Texans camp.

"Obviously Sunday's opener is much more important for the Texans than it is the Colts, as they are the challengers trying to prove not only to the nation but also to themselves if they're indeed for real."

Indianapolis has owned the regular season matchups so far, posting a 15-1 record against the Texans the past eight seasons, with a point differential of +190.  Charlie refers to the relationship between the two teams as a "hammer and nail" relationship, but I prefer to think of it as a "big brother, little brother" relationship.

An older sibling will always admire the younger sibling's tenacity and heart, but will ultimately have the advantage of age and experience.  The older sibling will note the younger sibling's accomplishments and even be happy for them — so long as those accomplishments don't hurt the older sibling's standing.  Therefore, the Colts will compete against the Texans vigilantly, but Houston has the added incentive of being able to show their big brother up on the big stage.

The major issue with rivalries in the AFC South is that there are no rivalries that are tied to history or geography, as is the case with the Giants and Eagles, Browns and Steelers, and Redskins and Cowboys.  As Bernstein explained: "When the divisions realigned back in 2002, the AFC South was pretty much the 'leftover division.'  All the teams in the East, West and North had "blood rivalries" that went back decades.  The four remaining teams were placed in the South." 

Jacksonville is an expansion team (1995) as well and Tennessee was moved to Nashville in 1997, so there is no history between the four teams.  The closest geographic rivalry is between the Colts and Tennessee. Nashville and Jacksonville would seem to be an extension of the rivalry between the Gators and the Volunteers but the passion that exists for those two college blue bloods is not as intense in the pro game.  Houston would have a potential geographic rivalry with the Cowboys if the two teams were not in different conferences.

The only true rivalry between conference teams in the division is between the Colts and the Patriots.  The two teams go back to the old AFC East, but the rivalry has really only caught on since 2001, when Peyton Manning and Tom Brady begin to ascend the ranks of elite quarterbacks in the NFL.  That rivalry is based more on the recent success of the two teams and the fact that they generally stood in each other's way each postseason, which only made playoff seeding based on their regular season match-ups more important. 

Given the lack of real history between the Texans and the Colts, the only real way for this to turn into an actual rivalry is for Houston to consistently stand in the way of Indianapolis for superiority in the division.  They would need to not only win on Sunday, but in the next meeting between the two teams and they would also need to wrest the division crown from the Colts.  But, they would also need to do so consistently, since the Titans won the division in 2002 and 2008, so a one-time unseating was not enough.

That means that Rivalry Road needs to be paved by the Texans and they need to start to work on Sunday. We'll soon find out if little brother has it in him this year.


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First and foremost, Sunday's showdown with the Texans is not one that the Colts are taking lightly.  It is a conference game, a division game, and the first game of the regular season, so they will be ready to play.  They're anxious to get to games that count and put a dreadful preseason in the rearview mirror.

For the Texans, Sunday's game marks an early chance for Houston to gain an advantage over the team they've been looking up at in the standings since they came into the league in 2002.  Indianapolis is the 800-pound gorilla in the AFC South, having won the division six times in the eight seasons since the realignment.

The Texans registered their first winning record in franchise history in 2009 and know that they need to get through the Colts to claim the division title and secure a trip to the postseason.

Charlie Bernstein of JagNation.com weighed in on the passion Houston has for beating the favorite in the division: \"The Texans have spent much of the offseason talking about beating the Colts but until they do it's pretty much just talk,\" he said. \"They see the Colts as the 'gold standard' and are building their team in the same way, hoping to replicate the success.  Although there's a moderate amount of hatred, there's complete respect for the Colts from everyone in the Texans camp.

\"Obviously Sunday's opener is much more important for the Texans than it is the Colts, as they are the challengers trying to prove not only to the nation but also to themselves if they're indeed for real.\"

Indianapolis has owned the regular season matchups so far, posting a 15-1 record against the Texans the past eight seasons, with a point differential of +190.  Charlie refers to the relationship between the two teams as a \"hammer and nail\" relationship, but I prefer to think of it as a \"big brother, little brother\" relationship.

An older sibling will always admire the younger sibling's tenacity and heart, but will ultimately have the advantage of age and experience.  The older sibling will note the younger sibling's accomplishments and even be happy for them — so long as those accomplishments don't hurt the older sibling's standing.  Therefore, the Colts will compete against the Texans vigilantly, but Houston has the added incentive of being able to show their big brother up on the big stage.

The major issue with rivalries in the AFC South is that there are no rivalries that are tied to history or geography, as is the case with the Giants and Eagles, Browns and Steelers, and Redskins and Cowboys.  As Bernstein explained: \"When the divisions realigned back in 2002, the AFC South was pretty much the 'leftover division.'  All the teams in the East, West and North had \"blood rivalries\" that went back decades.  The four remaining teams were placed in the South.\" 

Jacksonville is an expansion team (1995) as well and Tennessee was moved to Nashville in 1997, so there is no history between the four teams.  The closest geographic rivalry is between the Colts and Tennessee. Nashville and Jacksonville would seem to be an extension of the rivalry between the Gators and the Volunteers but the passion that exists for those two college blue bloods is not as intense in the pro game.  Houston would have a potential geographic rivalry with the Cowboys if the two teams were not in different conferences.

The only true rivalry between conference teams in the division is between the Colts and the Patriots.  The two teams go back to the old AFC East, but the rivalry has really only caught on since 2001, when Peyton Manning and Tom Brady begin to ascend the ranks of elite quarterbacks in the NFL.  That rivalry is based more on the recent success of the two teams and the fact that they generally stood in each other's way each postseason, which only made playoff seeding based on their regular season match-ups more important. 

Given the lack of real history between the Texans and the Colts, the only real way for this to turn into an actual rivalry is for Houston to consistently stand in the way of Indianapolis for superiority in the division.  They would need to not only win on Sunday, but in the next meeting between the two teams and they would also need to wrest the division crown from the Colts.  But, they would also need to do so consistently, since the Titans won the division in 2002 and 2008, so a one-time unseating was not enough.

That means that Rivalry Road needs to be paved by the Texans and they need to start to work on Sunday. We'll soon find out if little brother has it in him this year.

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