Rivalries are as old as time itself and a lot come to mind; Goku and Vegeta, Spiderman and Venom, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, etc. When it comes to the NFL there are many teams that fall into this category of rivalry. These teams may have been rivals for many years or even just a couple of matches that went crazy in the ratings. Rivalries are bent on powerful matches between two very competitive teams trying to best each other whatever the cost. For this list in particular teams will not be repeated. For example, if I put Dallas and Philadelphia I cannot put New York and Philadelphia. Only one team per rivalry for this list. Time to see who can best each other the best in this ranking of the top ten NFL rivalries.
#10 Carolina Panthers vs Seattle Seahawks
The Panthers and Seahawks come in at number ten on the ranking. These two teams have only met 13 times in the NFL, but each time has been a delight to watch. The first time these two teams met was on October 8th in the year 2000. Although that first match up wasn’t the most competitive it started a series of contests that involved two very efficient match ups between quarterbacks Cam Newton and Russell Wilson. These two were the talk of the town basically be referred to as the new Brady vs Manning rivalry. Of course their biggest match up came in the NFC Championship as the Seahawks defeated the Panthers heading to Super Bowl XL. Over the 13 times these two teams met the score board so far goes to the Seahawks leading 9-4. Like I said even though the rivalry wasn’t huge compared to the other nine ahead the players in this rivalry made it special to watch especially in the divisional rounds.
#9 Houston Texans vs Tennessee Titans
The Texans and the Titans come in at number nine on the rankings. This rivalry came into place when The Houston Oilers were expanded and became the Tennessee Titans. They were then placed into the AFC South division along with a new team that was branded the Houston Texans. The rivalry has become which team in Houston was better. When the year of 2010 came along we witnessed one of the clear moments of this rivalry. It was a fight between Houston’s Andre Johnson and Tennessee’s Courtland Finnegan. They were going back and forth until these two just started pounding on each with Andre coming out at the winner in my opinion. 2011 was when the rivalry got good as both teams were in the hunt of the divisional title. Overall, this rivalry has been very good with the current score being 18-16-1. With the way it is starting to look I doubt this silvery stops anytime soon.
#8 Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints
This rivalry between the Falcons and the Saints is probably the oldest rivalry in the NFC South division. These two have played exactly 100 times with the Atlanta Falcons being ahead 52-48. These two teams always pushed each other to their brink. The first time these two met was in the year of 1967 with the Saints coming out on top over the Falcons 27-24. This two teams often playing resulted in it being called the “Southern Showdown”. Most of the amazing games I remembered involved Saints quarterback Drew Brees and either Michael Vick or Matt Ryan being the quarterback for the Falcons. The one game that shocked me the most came in the latest season in 2018. The Saints and Falcons had a hard fought close match up which resulted with the Saints picking up the victory in overtime with the score being 43-37. The “Southern Showdown” still exists today and I cannot wait to see what the 2019 season will bring to this historic rivalry.
#7 San Francisco 49ers vs Los Angeles Rams
This one is an oldie but a goodie. I am talking about the rivalry between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams. The rivalry was an intense one then went all the way back to the 1950’s. This rivalry was based on the fact that back in the day the 49ers were based in North Carolina and the Rams were based in South Carolina. In this time, a lot of the games decided economic, political and even cultural settings. It is very true that when the Rams relocated to St. Louis that this rivalry diminished for a bit and it was no surprise as to why. I would say that the rivalry was at a high during the 1970’s. From 1970-1979 one of the two teams always took home the NFC West Division. The 49ers were the top team in the division for three years in a row until the Rams answered back winning the next seven. The rivalry total stands with the 49ers ahead 69-67-3. It will be no surprise in 2019 with the Rams fighting hard and the 49ers getting Jimmy G back that these two will put on some great classics to talk about in the future.
#6 New England Patriots vs New York Jets
While it is true that the Patriots have dominated the AFC East Division with Tom Brady at the helm, it was not always like that. During the early stages of this rivalry many that lived in these two areas claimed it was the football version of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. This team rivalry in my mind was based on a story; the story of Bill Parcells. Bill was the coach of the Patriots and then after an appearance in Super Bowl XXXI he resigned from the Patriots. Little did owner Robert Kraft know at the time the Jets were planning on making Parcells their head coach. This brought up a Babe Ruth feel to it that I just couldn’t ignore. Now for the first time in a long time, the Jets and the Patriots were true rivals in the AFC division title. The Patriots would win in overtime after a Vinatieri field goal winning 27-24. Out of the 119 times these two teams met, the Patriots come out on top with 65-54-1 lead over the Jets. I honestly don’t predict this rivalry to get back on track again until Tom Brady and Bill Belichick both retire, but when that happens I imagine the sparks will fly once again for these two teams.
#5 Kansas City Chiefs vs Oakland Raiders
This rivalry was nasty. One quote that can describe this rivalry comes to us from good old John Madden who was the Raiders coach at the time. The game wasn’t the greatest as the Chiefs won 42-10, but the horse for the Chiefs was instructed to run around the field every time the Chiefs scored. Madden responded by saying “We couldn’t beat the Chiefs, but we damn near killed their horse.” The hate he responded with this only describes how far this rivalry went. The teams have faced each other a total of 119 times. The Chiefs have the lead so far with it being 65-53-2. One good memory of these two teams facing off takes me back to the 2017 season as Oakland won 31-30 in the very final seconds of the game. Hopefully Gruden can get the Raiders back into shape so this rivalry can go further. The one quote that gets me about this rivalry comes from a man named Gunther Cunningham. “It’s a dark game. I characterize it as a lot of darkness. “When asked whether “dark” was meant as ‘a good vs evil dark’ “You can read between the lines.” This is powerful stuff man.
#4 Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Redskins
While the numbers don’t show it, this was probably one of the most heated rivalries in the National Football League. This came to fruition when the Cowboys joined the same division as the Redskins as part of the expansion. You can tell the rivalry is huge because these two teams almost always play each other on Thanksgiving Day. Who could forget the 1979 face-off where the winner would claim the division and the loser would be knocked out of the playoffs. The Cowboys would win 35-34 . It was crazy to think leading up to that game Cowboys defensive end Harvey Martin received a funeral wreath supposedly sent by the Redskins. Martin kept it in his locker until the teams faced each other. When it was time for the two teams to face he went into the Redskins locker room and threw it into the room breaking up a team prayer. Some more recent memories of hatred came when Dez Bryant and Josh Norman jawed at each other during a game and then began a war on social media proclaiming they were better than the other one. The results stand at the Cowboys leading the Redskins 71-45-2. Again, the numbers may not do it justice, but this was always huge when these two collided.
#3 Philadelphia Eagles vs New York Giants
This is probably one of the most popular rivalries in all of football. It was no surprise that the NFL Network ranked this number four on the top ten NFL rivalries on ESPN. The Eagles and the Giants have battled it out a total of 174 times making this one of the most historically intense rivalries in the NFL. There is no clear cut leader as the teams are tied with an 86-86-2 record. The first time these two teams faced off against each other was on October 15th 1933. If I had to compare it to baseball for all you baseball lovers out there I would compare this to the Mets-Phillies rivalry. if you wanted to compare this one to hockey I would put it as maybe the Flyers-Rangers rivalry. Key moments in this rivalry that I remember quite fondly in this rivalry are as followed. One, was the huge Eagles comeback on December 19th 2010. All the Giants had to do was kick it out bounds, but that didn’t happen did it? What happened was that DeSean Jackson took the ball all the way to the house winning the game expiring the clock. This was so crazy due to the fact it was believed to be the first walk-off punt return in NFL history. The Eagles won that game 38-31. The Eagles continued to dominate in a 2014 match up in which they shut out the Giants 27-0. This became personal as Victor Cruz went down with a season ending injury. Normally, respect is offered in these times by the fans on both sides, but Eagles fans were not as considerate. Fans in Philadelphia were seemingly cheering for the fact that Cruz got injured. When you do this you make yourself look bad in my opinion, but it showed the amount of hatred these fans and teams had for each other. When I was about 11 or 12 years old a movie called Invincible came out staring Mark Wahlberg and from that moment on I knew that the Eagles and Giants were one of the greatest rivalries in all of football.
#2 Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens
This rivalry although only dating back to 1996 has become one of the most brutal rivalries in the entire NFL. While these two teams battled at times in the early years it wasn’t until 2008 that this rivalry began to boil. It was mostly due to the quarterbacks; Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco. These two teams played three times in 2008 and while the Steelers won all three of these games they were not easy victories to obtain. It wasn’t just games that embodied these rivalries however. Players were downright brutal to each other. Take these as examples. One, Ryan Clark hitting Willis McGhaee so hard that he had to spend the night in a hospital and left Clark briefly unconscious. Another one would be the moment that Mike Tomlin “supposedly” interfered with a return by Jacoby Jones that landed him a whopping 100,000 dollar fine. These two teams have expressed their hatred for each other multiple times, but have always remained great in competition with each other. The Ravens would secure five division championships while the Steelers took home 11. Baltimore would claim two conference championships and Pittsburgh would take three. The competition never ceases with these two as the total of 50 games they played has been fantastic every time. The Steelers currently have the lead with a 28-22 statistic. There is nothing more I would want to see then these two times fighting once again in the 2019 season. With Lamar Jackson now in Baltimore and Flacco in Denver it will definitely be different as I very much loved the showdowns between Flacco and Roethlisberger. I guess Lamar Jackson will have to be the sacrificial lamb as I hope the Steelers pluck the wings of the Ravens and make him regret playing in Baltimore.
#1 Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers
I am sure a lot of you saw this coming in as number one on the list, and I couldn’t agree with you more as to why this deserves its rightful place at the top of the food chain. They have faced off against each a record setting 198 times. It is no surprise as to why these two teams have faced off since the year of 1921. the Packers have a slim lead for supremacy as the score is officially 97-95-6. It is incredible to believe that two teams can tie six times, but that is what happened to these two organizations. These two had incredible contests ranging from their November 12th competition in 1961 to the Bear’s dominant victory over the packers with a score of 61-7 on December 7th 1980 or the “Instant Replay” game of 1989. Mike Ditka was the coach of the Bears and he expressed his huge hatred for the Packers in the following quote, “They don’t like us and we don’t like them. That’s the way football is supposed to be played. I didn’t know it was supposed to be buddy-buddy”. That is what a rivalry is supposed to be like. Good memories of this rivalry come in waves. the most recent came at the first game of the 2018 season. Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury and didn’t return to the game until the third quarter. When he returned the score was 20-0 Chicago and in typical Aaron Rodgers fashion. Rodgers tossed a 75 yard touchdown pass with just about two minutes left and that compiled with a field goal and two touchdown passes to Adams and Allison came back and made the score 24-23. The Packers would win that game and it established the largest comeback in franchise history. The Bears would get their revenge later in the year with a victory over the Packers with a score of 24-17. Another great game came on December 18th in 2016. The packers would claim victory once again with a score of 30-27 over the Bears. The Bears loved to spoil events for the packers however, as a year earlier they won against the Packers on the night that Brett Favre’s jersey was retired. This rivalry will go down in history as probably the most vicious between two teams and it is hard to argue why. The big names include Packers coaches Mike McCarthy, Vince Lombardi, Mike Holmgren and Earl Louis Lambeau. Coaches for the Bears aren’t as popular, but the ones most involved with the rivalry are Matt Nagy, Mike Ditka, Neill Armstrong, Jim Dooley and Paddy Driscoll. Players cam and went for each team, but some big names I remember are Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Mitch Trubisky, Jay Cutler, Walter Payton, Matt Forte, etc. Players and coaches have demonstrated just how deep this blood goes in this rivalry and I cannot wait to see what it brings to us as fans in 2019.