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The Houston Texans and their struggles at NRG Stadium

Home is NOT where the heart is for the Texans.

NFL: AUG 19 Preseason - Dolphins at Texans Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Home. The very idea generally conveys thoughts of safety and comfort. “Home Sweet Home”, “Home is where the heart is” and all of those other cliché-type things that dominate modern English speech. In sports, home is generally considered a good thing. In baseball, the idea is to score runs by getting “home” before being tagged out, with runs scored by touching “home” plate. Various statistical analyses show that teams playing at home will have an advantage, and the general rule of thumb is that even bad teams player better at home than on the road.

Yet, Home is not always a great thing. Most people will suffer grievous accidents and fatalities at or near their respective homes. For all the good memories, home can sometimes spur the worst of feelings and actions. In sports, there are times when playing at home does not benefit a team. The Houston Astros have seen this a few times lately, between the nightmare of the 2019 World Series and their recent 2023 regular season record, where they are a far worse team at home vs. the road. The suckitude of the current Houston Rockets needs no further elaboration. At least the Houston Dynamo managed to secure more points at home than not in 2022 and are continuing that trend in 2023.

Then we have the Houston Texans. Even as poor as the team has been these past few seasons, their struggles at NRG Stadium are particularly brutal. Coming into the season home opener, the Texans look to start the season off by doing something they did not do in the 2022 regular season: Win a home game. Last season, the Texans completed their first full season without logging a single home win (0-7-1). Even the expansion season (2002) saw the squad win at home, checking that box in game one. The lost seasons of 2005 and 2013, where the team went 2-14, saw the squad at least get at least one win at home. Even David Culley managed two home wins.

The team enters their home opener riding a nine-game non-winning streak at home, with the last seven home dates as losses for the Texans. The last home win for Houston goes all the way back to the 2021 season, a 41-29 Boxing Day win over the Los Angeles Chargers (aside: Seriously, LA Not San Diego Chargers…change the [KITTEN] name already!!!! You screwed San Diego enough Spanos, just [KITTEN] rename your creation the LA Tax Breaks/Money bags/Carpet Baggers/something…anyway, end aside). Since that time, the Texans have treated their home fans to a series of games where the road team outscores the home squad by an average of 26.5 - 16.3. While the quality of games varied, from ugly, to the final score doesn’t reflect the true nature of the beating, to the near misses, they all ended with the same result.

NFL: DEC 26 Chargers at Texans
A reminder of the days when Houston could actually win a game at NRG.
Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The sole non-loss in this line up of pain comes from the home opener from last season in the form of a 20-20 tie with the Colts. Yep, the Texans get to open the season yet again against the ex-Baltimore squad. While the scoreboard shows that game as a tie, that particular tie result could really be a loss, as the Texans blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead, punted with less than a minute left in OT with the ball in Colts territory and said tie made the difference in the Texans losing out on the top spot in each round of the NFL draft.

If you can believe it, the home results for the Texans since the calendar year turned to 2023 are even worse. The final home game of the season, played on New Year’s Day against a resurgent Jacksonville only added to the hangover misery for the Houston squad, as the team fell 31-3. The next “home” game, albeit a preseason game, saw the Texans “improve” the scoring differential, only losing 28-3. Bad enough that Houston is on a nine-game non-winning, seven-game home losing streak, but the team has yet to score so much as a touchdown at home for calendar year 2023.

Put it this way; the last “home” team to claim a win at NRG Stadium in football: The Katy Tigers demolished the Houston C.E. King Panthers 56-34 on Dec 2, 2022 to win the Texas UIL Class 6A State Football Championship. Ole Miss was the “home” team for the 2022 Texas Bowl, but Lane Kiffin could only inspire his team to a 42-25 loss to Texas Tech. Come to think of it, NRG hasn’t been all that kind to the home teams in general. Southern hospitality is one thing, but that might be taking a bit too far...

Thus, when the Texans face-off with the Colts this Sunday, they look to do more than merely get their 2023 record to 1-1. The Texans look to reverse a painful trend of poor home performances. Bad play at home has significant on and off-field ramifications for the Texans. Perhaps Will Anderson, Jr and CJ Stroud can build on the positives from Baltimore and bring it to this game. If nothing else, it would be nice for the home fans to not only have something to cheer about during the game, but maybe a chance to leave in a better mood than when they left.