The Texans players and coaches have learned quickly about the natural intrastate rivalry that exists between Houston and its neighbor further up I-45.
Starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has played the Dallas Cowboys once, back in 2011 as a Buffalo Bill, but knows Sunday's game will be different as a Texan.
"I did an event yesterday and the only thing anybody said to me is either what does your wife think about your beard or you better beat the Cowboys," Ryan Fitzpatrick said.
The first time Brian Cushing ever played against Dallas was the third preseason game of 2010. The Texans won, 23-10. Cushing, then in his second NFL season, recalls the fanfare around the two teams meeting in Houston.
"It kind of felt like a playoff game, just the atmosphere, the excitement and everything," Cushing said. "On top of it too, as soon as that game was over this past Sunday, the first thing talked about was Dallas all week whether it be with you guys or the fans or whatnot, it's really the focal point and obviously emphasized this week."
With both teams entering the game coming off wins with 3-1 records, enthusiasm is high for Sunday's Week 5 matchup between the Texans and the Cowboys. Houston sits atop the AFC South and Dallas keeps pace with the Philadelphia Eagles, both at 3-1 in the NFC East.
"I think everybody whether you're from Texas or not, you can feel that in this state this is a big deal," J.J. Watt said. "Houston, Dallas, Texas is a football state. Football is king down here. It's a big deal whether you want it to be or not. It's a big deal. We're really looking forward to that opportunity, the challenge. Obviously it comes with a lot of energy and excitement. You hope to be able to feed off that and use that your advantage."
Bill O'Brien compared it to the Boston-New York rivalry he grew up with in the New England area. The Texans head coach wants to win this game for the fans and for the city of Houston.
"I know that this game means a lot to Mr. McNair and this Texans organization," O'Brien said. "I know it means a lot to this city, the city of Houston. Houston vs. Dallas; Texas is such a great football state and Houston and Dallas are fantastic football cities and it means a lot to the fans of Houston for us to be able to go out there, play well and win the game. We understand that. It's a big challenge like I said. Dallas has an excellent football team led by a really good head coach, Coach (Jason) Garrett, who I have a lot of respect for. It's a big challenge, but we realize how important it is to the fans and to us."