Each NFL division’s most significant rivalry of all time

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /
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T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans. (Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images) /

AFC South: Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts

The AFC South is often looked at as THAT division in the NFL landscape. When it was created back in 2002, it included two expansion era teams and two other clubs previously relocated from their original homes. It took a while, but in the 18 years of the AFC South, the preeminent rivalry is that between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts.

Through the 2019 NFL season, these teams have played 37 times. While it is lopsided in the Colts’ favor all time at 28-9, the dynamic of this rivalry changed in the 2010s. Initially, the AFC South belonged to Peyton Manning‘s Colts, as the Texans were an expansion team. The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans lacked the necessary consistent success to be viable.

Once Manning played his last game for the 2010 Colts, the Texans began their rise to dominance in AFC South play. Combined, they have won 15 AFC South division titles. Though the Colts have the edge at nine, Houston won six of them in the 2010s, including four of the last five. Despite being playoff viable, the Colts haven’t won the division that they used to own since 2014.

The only team not named the Colts or Texans to win an AFC South division title last decade was the 2017 Jaguars. While the Texans have dominated the division for the last half-decade, they are the only team in the AFC South that has never played in a conference championship. Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Tennessee have all played in a conference title bout since 2014.