The rivalry between the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans is a unique one due to the circumstances surrounding both cities. Before moving to Nashville, the Tennessee Titans were the Houston Oilers, and many long-time Houston football fans have never forgiven the team for their relocation. However, in 2002 the NFL expanded and realigned divisions, once again giving Houston a football team named the Texans. The realignment of divisions placed the Titans and the Texans in the AFC South, guaranteeing that the harsh feelings would not go away as the two teams would play each other twice a year. Fans in Houston still quarrel today over which franchise was better.
History of the Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans Rivalry
In 1996, the Houston Oilers saw their fan base significantly decline, and so ownership moved the team to the Music City. Many fans, as always happens, saw the movement of the team as a stab in the back, and those feelings have never died down. The 2002 season was the first season that both the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans took the field after expansion brought a franchise back to Houston. Tennessee, the more stable franchise, jumped out to an early lead in the series, winning the first four games by a combined score of 95-54, including a 13-3 victory in Tennessee’s first return to Houston in six years. The two teams were on opposite ends of the spectrum in Houston’s first two seasons as a franchise. In the Texans’ first two seasons, they were 4-12 and 5-11 and the Titans were 11-5 and 12-4. In large part, the Titans dominated the Texans in the 2000’s as the Texans struggled to get their feet on the ground despite being led by #1 overall draft pick David Carr. The Titans finished the decade with a 12-4 advantage over Houston, including a seven-game winning streak from 2005–2008. The Texans’ first winning season as a franchise did not come until they finished 9-7 in 2009.
Despite the one-sided nature of the intense rivalry in the 2000’s, the 2010’s opened up violently. Starting as early as 2009, some true bad blood developed between the two franchises. In 2009, there were fights and ejections before the Texans escaped with a 34-31 victory in Nashville. On November 28, 2010, Texans receiver Andre Johnson and Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan exchanged blows after a play and were both ejected for their part in the fist fight. The Texans went on to win that game 20-0 over Tennessee, and many people look back to that game as a turning point in the rivalry history. Since that infamous game, the Texans have gone on to win twelve of the eighteen match ups between the two teams in the 2010’s. That includes two four-game winning streaks interrupted by a lone Titans win in 2013. Since the beginning of the 2016 season, the teams have split the season series, with each team protecting their home field. In 2017, the Texans beat the Titans by a score of 57-14 in Houston, the biggest win in series history. Tennessee has not swept the season series against Houston since the 2007 season.
Head to Head Analysis of Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans
Tennessee currently leads the all-time series against the Texans with an 18-16 mark. Tennessee jumped out to a huge advantage in this regard as the Texans were getting their feet underneath them, but the Texans are steadily closing the game. The 2000’s saw the Titans race out to a 12-4 advantage in the series, buoyed by separate four-game and seven-game win streaks over Houston. The 2010’s have definitely seen the tide sway back in favor of the Texans. Houston has gone 12-6 against Tennessee since the opening of the new decade, including two four-game winning streaks in a stretch where they took eight of nine from Tennessee. Houston has not dropped a game at home in the series since the 2011 season, while the Titans have won three straight in Nashville. Tennessee has not swept the season series since 2007 while the Texans have done so three times since then, most recently in 2015.
The two franchises have never met in the playoffs, though they were close in the 2011 season. Both teams were in the hunt for the division title most of that season. In Week 7, the Titans hosted the Texans in a match-up for the division lead. The Texans won 41–7 and went on to win the division that year. In Week 17, Houston hosted Tennessee; the Titans had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Titans won on a botched two-point conversion try by the Texans, who went for the win. Due to the playoff scenarios, the Titans missed the playoffs. If Tennessee had qualified for the playoffs, they would have played the Texans in the AFC Wild-Card round.
A Glance at Postseason Success in Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans
In 2018, the Texans won the AFC South at 11-5. The Texans would play either the Titans or Colts in the upcoming Wild Card game, depending on the last game of the season, a Sunday Night Football battle between the two divisional foes. The Colts won 33-17 which eliminated the Titans from the playoffs. The Texans lost to the Colts in the wild card round to end their season.
Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans Rivalry Outlook
The AFC South looks to be highly competitive in the years to come with the Colts, Titans, and Texans all looking to stay near the top of the division, while the Jacksonville Jaguars are just a quarterback away and one season removed from being top dog in the division. The Titans-Texans rivalry did not start out as heated as many thought it would, but history has shown us that this rivalry is at its best when both teams are playing good football. There is no reason to believe that these two forever-connected franchises will not be competing for playoff berths for many seasons to come.