If you asked ten Houston Texans fans, nine of them would probably say the Titans are their biggest rival. Some of them would probably also say they hate the Titans.
It’s not a reciprocal feeling. Most Titans fans, I believe, especially those who have been fans since the franchise moved to Tennessee, and even before that, would say the Steelers, Ravens and Colts, in some order, are the team’s biggest rivals.
Does simply being in the same division as another team automatically make them rivals? I say it does not. True rivalries are based upon far more than that.
The rivalry with the Steelers goes all the way back to the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. Then the Oilers, the team was placed in the AFC Central Division, which also included the Steelers, Browns and Bengals, where they remained until the 2002 realignment.
The old Cleveland Browns were in the division from 1970-1995 before moving to Baltimore and changing their name. They remained in the division as the Ravens from 1996-2001.
There have been some memorable playoff games between the Titans/Oilers and both the Steelers and Ravens. To me, even though they are now in a different division, the Steelers and Ravens are the Titans’ biggest rivals. There’s a 40-year history with both teams, with some great postseason games. There is always extra pleasure in seeing the Titans knock either of them out of the playoffs and extra disppontment in being knocked out by them.
The Colts are the other team which I would consider to be a rival. Since joining the Titans in the newly formed AFC South in 2002, one of the two teams has won the division title every year. The Colts don’t have a long history with the Titans but they’ve earned the right to be considered a rival.
Even the Jaguars, who haven’t won an AFC South title, have more of an argument to be considered a rival than the Texans. The Jags joined the AFC Central as an expansion team in 1995 and won three division titles. The Titans/Oilers have had some great battles with the Jags over the years and I especially enjoyed the 1999 AFC Championship game. Afterwards, Jeff Fisher proclaimed Jacksonville to be a home field for the Titans.
Rivalries are good for sports but the Texans haven’t done nearly enough to be considered a rival of the Titans, or anyone else for that matter. They’ve had only one winning season and have yet to earn a postseason berth. Before I consider the Texans to be a rival, they’ll have to win the division a few times.
That’s how I feel; what are your thoughts, Titans fans?