The NFL is a storied league that has seen some historic rivalries. The Dallas Cowboys vs. the Washington Redskins. The New York Jets vs. the New England Patriots. Who do we rank as our top 5 NFL Team Rivalries?
The Top 5 NFL Team Rivalries
Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys
Mama’s, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
When the classic country song was penned years ago, the writer didn’t have the Washington Redskins or Dallas Cowboys in mind. Rather he was talking about the harsh culture associated with a cowboy living/working/being out in the elements.
The Washington Redskins have taken this song title and used it as a war cry against their archenemy, the Dallas Cowboys. This rivalry has intensified through the years, being waged no less than twice each year by virtue of each team is a member of the NFC East. At times it has been quite lopsided, with one team exerting its dominance over the other. Additionally, these two storied franchises sit near the top of the Super Bowl victory list, with the Cowboys having five wins to the Redskins three. The Cowboys won the 2017 season series, hanging 30+ points on the Redskins in both games. Nevertheless, you can rest assured that the 2018 season will serve as a new opportunity for each team to show it’s disdain for the other, while NFL fans are treated to two fierce and hotly contested battles.
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Another division rivalry, as both the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, are members of the NFC North. The win/loss count between these two stands at 96 victories for Green Bay – 94 victories for Chicago, with 6 ties sprinkled into the mix. With Brett Favre at the helm, succeeded by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have held quite the edge in quarterback play over the past 25 or so years. Even still, when it comes to these two teams, records and standings don’t matter. They play from start to finish with an intensity that is difficult to match. Green Bay won both games in the 2017 season. Given the nature of this rivalry, the Packers know better than to rest on any laurels as the Bears will be more than ready to make them pay and regret doing so. 2018 will be a new opportunity for these two to renew one of the NFL’s oldest rivalries, with the Bears hoping to write a chapter that ends with not one, but two victories.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
When owner Art Modell relocated his Cleveland Browns franchise to Baltimore, and they were reborn as the Ravens, who knew the treat football fans were in store for. The Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the most storied NFL franchises, were in line for a challenge from this new upstart in the form of the Baltimore Ravens. This is usually a hard-hitting affair, with bone-rattling hits being given and received by all parties involved. The series currently stands 27-21 in favor of the Steelers, with them holding a 3-1 edge in postseason play. When these two get together, you can rest assured that records mean little (if anything), as a long night is in store for both teams. Ravens-Steelers games have provided some lasting memories for NFL fans as these two routinely leave you wanting more. As evidenced by their most recent meeting, a 39-38 shootout ultimately won by Pittsburgh, you can rest assured that you come away from watching a battle between these two knowing that you just witnessed a football contest played at its highest level.
New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
Growing up and living in Atlanta, I have been able to see this rivalry played out (half the time at least) up close and personal. The current series record stands 52-45 in favor of Atlanta, however, quarterback Drew Brees presence in New Orleans has helped to close the gap between. This rivalry has followed the teams from their former residence in the NFC West division, to their present home as members of the NFC South. These two have more than a few similarities. Case in point, the Falcons have been coached by Jim Mora, Jr. and Wade Phillips, both being the sons of former Saints coaches Jim Mora, Sr. and Bum Phillips. Former wide receiver Joe Horn, quarterback Bobby Hebert and kicker Morten Andersen each played for both teams. With the 2017 opening of the Falcons new home, they both play in stadiums adorned with the “Mercedes-Benz” name. On the football field, they routinely damage the others’ playoff aspirations, either by playing the spoiler role to prevent or defeating the other to make their road to a championship that much harder. Atlanta is playing catchup in that department, as they have yet to win a championship in two Super Bowl appearances, while New Orleans was able to capitalize on its sole appearance and bring home the Lombardi Trophy. The first 2017 meeting saw the Falcons eke out a 20-17 victory, thanks to a game-saving interception by linebacker Deion Jones, a New Orleans native no less. Given their history, one can only deduce that the final Falcons/Saints meeting of the year will add another exciting chapter to their rivalry.
Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders
The Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders are AFC West foes with a contentious history. Their rivalry dates back to 1960, with the Raiders holding an edge in victories with a 63-52-2 record, including playoffs. While their on-field play has spoken for itself, this rivalry has spilled into off the field drama. Former Raiders coach Mike Shanahan was fired by Raiders owner Al Davis. While he was employed after his dismissal, what was his next head coaching gig? Head coach for the Denver Broncos of course. During Shanahan’s tenure in Denver, the Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowl championships, further rubbing salt into the Raiders wounded psyche. The Raiders made it back to the big game at the close of the 2002 season, only to be crushed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In present times, the fierce rivalry continues to abound as both teams battle each other for AFC West supremacy. Unfortunately for the Broncos, 2017 appears to be a lost season as they currently sit at 5-9, however, as rivalries go, they were able to manage a split in their two games this season.
So there you have it. Perhaps you agree. Perhaps you don’t. Certainly, other rivalries exist as this list includes what this writer believes to be the Top 5. Whatever your thoughts, these and any/all other rivalries go to make football the great game it has, is, and hopefully will continue to be.