The Houston Texans joined the NFL in 2002, and the AFC South was born. As an expansion team, the Texans started slowly out of the gate, finishing last in the division five out of their first six years. They won their first division title in 2011 as the Indianapolis Colts were on their way to unceremoniously showing Peyton Manning the door and ushering in a new era of football under Andrew Luck.
The teams meet often:
With divisional opponents, this one is an easy yes. The teams have faced off twice each year with an additional matchup occurring in the 2019 playoffs.
The teams meet this year in Houston on September 17th and in Indianapolis to conclude the regular season on January 7th.
The series must be balanced:
Since 2012, the series reads 14-7-1 in the Colts favor during the regular season and 1-0 in the playoffs. While that is not as atrocious as Houston’s 1-9 start against the Colts franchise, it isn’t great either. Anytime a team is essentially doubling up the record against an opponent, there appears to be a lack of balance.
Appearances can be deceiving, however, because while the overall record is crooked, the individual game results have been much closer. Out of the twenty-three matchups, sixteen have been decided by seven or fewer points. On top of that, thirty percent of the games played have been decided by three points or fewer. That is a razor’s edge.
The games need to have high stakes:
During this span, the Colts have won two division titles while the Texans have captured five. While each team has had some success, it is hard to find many head-to-head matchups over the last decade in which both teams were over .500. Two games stand out, however.
December 30th, 2012, Chuck Pagano returned to action after missing the majority of the season due to leukemia treatment. The Texans came in at 12-3 while the Colts were holding at 10-5. Given the records and Pagano’s return, this was an important game. Both teams would represent the AFC South in the playoffs that year.
January 5th, 2019, the Colts returned to the postseason to meet the Texans in the Wild Card round down in Houston. The Colts got out to a quick start, jumping to a 21-0 lead by halftime and never looked back on their way to the Divisional Round.
These two teams meet twice a year, but both rarely have records over .500 when they face off. The games are usually tight which adds a layer of suspense, but there isn’t normally much on the line. The exception is the one playoff meeting which is the most out of any other divisional opponent of the Colts. Same division or not, with everything considered, the Houston Texans are not a true rival of the Colts.