The Houston Texans came into existence in 2002 as an expansion team. Brought in to fill the hole left behind by the then Houston Oilers - who had moved to Tennessee and became the Titans - the Texans satisfied Houston's hunger for an NFL team, but not for a winner. From 2002-2006, the Texans toiled in NFL hilarity, led by now-draft bust David Carr, the team never finished with a record of .500 or better, let alone a playoff berth.
Then, in 2007, the Texans traded for Atlanta Falcons' backup QB Matt Schaub. While the results remained relatively similar, the expectations grew exponentially. Year after year, the Texans were picked as the New Hotness, the team who would finally end the Colts reign of terror in the AFC South. Year after year, the Texans would fall flat on their face.
And then it happened. In 2011, aided by Peyton Manning's head literally falling off of his neck, the Houston Texans earned their first playoff berth and their first division title. With Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and Arian Foster leading the way, it seemed as though the years of frustration would be washed away by the joys of a stretch of Texans' dominance.
But maybe 2011, while providing the team's first real taste of success, also provided a bit of foreshadowing. People will remember that year: the 1-13 Colts against the 10-4 Texans, Thursday Night Football, "Reggie Wayne's last home game." And it was, as it always is when the Texans play in Indianapolis, a Colts victory.
The Texans would win the division in 2011, and again in 2012 - though just by the skin of their teeth. And now, 2 years into what was supposed to be a lifetime of memories and joy and happiness and winning, and the Texans are, well, the Texans again. At 2-5, this week - and every week hereafter - will be a must-win for the Houston Texans. Not only does a playoff berth rest on their success, so too do the jobs of HC Gary Kubiak and QB Matt Schaub - though the latter seems to have already lost his job.
On the other side of the field, you have a different story. The Indianapolis Colts weren't supposed to be this good this fast. But here they are, 5-2, and on the cusp of doing what the Olde Colts used to do: putting away the division by the mid-way point of the season. A victory on Sunday night would all but assure the Colts - barring the most bizarre, unexpected collapse of all time - the AFC South Title. But their success won't come without a struggle: the Colts will be without their leader, WR Reggie Wayne, for the first time since his rookie year. He tore his ACL in week 7, and we've yet to see how Pep Hamilton, Andrew Luck and the offense will respond to his absence.
Two teams at a crossroads. Who's moving ahead and who's doing an awkward U-Turn at 2am? We'll find out Sunday Night.