Ranking the 4 Best Rivalries in the NFL
Football is an intense sport, and all games are intense. However, some games are more intense than others.
When two rivals square off, an intense game can always be expected. Division rivals face off twice every year, and a lot is at stake. When two teams are doing well, intense games can be expected as well.
And when intense games happen between two teams consistently, rivalries follow.
There are heated rivalries right now, and they treat fans to great football. Here are the NFL's four best rivalries.
4. Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots/Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady
Whenever Manning goes up against Brady, fans are treated to a great game. The two quarterbacks have had some intense games, as they have squared off in the AFC Championship Game three times. It could happen for a fourth time this year.
While Manning and Brady don't hate each other, they are definitely rivals. Manning and Brady have always been going at it with a lot on the line, and they will continue to do so this season.
Ever since Brady took the reins in New England, he and the Patriots have been battling with Manning. The Patriots won two Super Bowls after beating Manning's former team, the Indianapolis Colts, in the playoffs.
However, Manning got revenge on Brady. His Colts rallied from an 18-point deficit in the 2007 AFC Championship Game to beat Brady and the Patriots. Manning won his only Super Bowl in that year, and it happened because he bested Brady for the first time in the postseason.
Brady has had more success against his biggest rival, as he's 9-4 against Manning, but the games have been close. Last season, Brady beat Manning in another good game, when the Patriots beat Manning's Broncos 31-21.
The Patriots and Broncos are poised to play another intense game this season, and they could play against each other again in the playoffs. In 2011, the two teams squared off in the playoffs, and the Patriots obliterated the Broncos.
While that game wasn't extremely interesting, there will be great games and storylines between the two teams in the future.
For example, former Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow recently signed with the Patriots, and that will be a huge storyline when the two teams meet in Week 12.
Manning and Brady have played some great games, and more is to come this year. If the Broncos and Patriots do meet in the playoffs with Manning at the helm in Denver and Brady at the helm for the Patriots, it could lead to a rivalry between the two teams and not just the two quarterbacks.
However, for now, the rivalry is mainly between Brady and Manning. The Broncos and Patriots aren't huge rivals, but there isn't a better rivalry between two players in the NFL.
3. Green Bay Packers vs Chicago Bears
Even when the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears aren't doing well, their games are intense.
The two teams have lots of history, and they have continued to treat fans to great football. The two squared off in the 2011 NFC Championship Game, and the game was a nail-biter.
Overall, the Bears lead the all time series with a record of 92-89-6. The teams have only met twice in the playoffs, but even in the regular season, the games feel like playoff games.
The Chicago Sun-Times wrote that Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall strongly dislikes the Packers, and other Bears players aren't extremely fond of the Packers either. According to the article, Charles Woodson ripped Jay Cutler after Green Bay's Week 2 win in 2012. He said, "It's the same old Jay. We don't need luck. He'll just throw us the ball."
Green Bay and Chicago have both done well lately, as there has only been one sub-seven-win season between the two teams since 2006 (when the Packers won six games in 2008). The two teams have consistently provided fans with intense games, and that has helped this long-standing rivalry stay strong.
No two teams have played more games than the Packers and Bears, and no two teams have kept playing good games and kept a rivalry going as well as the Packers and Bears.
Their fans don't like each other, and the players aren't too fond of each other. In addition, the last 10 games between the two teams have been decided by 14 points or less, and the only one game decided by 14 points happened to come on Christmas Day.
There hasn't been a season without a primetime game between the Bears and Packers since 2005. In that season, the two teams squared off on Christmas, so it's safe to say that the NFL values the rivalry.
The games are intense, the players and fans don't like each other and the teams have history. There's not much more you can ask for when it comes to these two teams, and that makes this rivalry one of the NFL's best.
2. San Francisco 49ers vs Seattle Seahawks
The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks don't have much history, but the two teams definitely don't like each other.
Ever since Pete Carroll took the reins in Seattle and Jim Harbaugh took over in San Francisco, the 49ers and Seahawks have been playing quality football.
If it wasn't for a last-second field goal by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round of the 2013 playoffs, the two teams would have battled in the NFC Championship Game. In 2012, the 49ers and Seahawks combined to go 22-9-1.
Rookie Russell Wilson and second-year prodigy Colin Kaepernick led their teams to the playoffs and at least one playoff win. Seattle came just shy of the NFC Championship Game, but showed everyone that it will be a force for years to come. In their Super Bowl run, the 49ers did the same thing.
Then, both teams killed it in the offseason.
The Seahawks added playmakers like Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, and the 49ers added Anquan Boldin, Nnamdi Asomugha, Eric Reid, Tank Carradine and others. Both teams appear to be flawless, and both teams will be in the Super Bowl hunt once again.
That will lead to more great football between the two teams. There have already been some good games between the two, including Week 7 of the 2012 season, when the 49ers held off the Seahawks 13-6. In Week 16 of the 2011 season, the 49ers edged the Seahawks 17-16.
In the most recent clash between the teams, Seattle lit up CenturyLink field with a 42-13 win in Week 16 of the 2012 season. Despite the one-sided score, the game was exciting.
In 2013, the games will be even tighter. Harbaugh and Carroll have history from their days at Stanford and USC, when Harbaugh's Cardinal ran up the score on Carroll's mighty Trojans. The two coaches aren't exactly best friends, and the players don't get along well either.
Even opposing players and coaches haven't been getting along too well. According to ESPN, Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner said that he would put his hands around Harbaugh's neck if Harbaugh was lined up against him.
Bay Area Sports Guy also went into detail about how Seahawks fans don't like the 49ers, and the same goes for 49ers fans. While the two teams don't have much history, the fans and players hate each other. The games have been intense, and the rivalry will continue to escalate rapidly.
And as that happens, this rivalry will become the best in football. However, right now, there's still one rivalry that's better.
1. Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers
The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have both done well lately, and that has led to some incredible football games.
Over the last five years, the two teams have combined for five AFC Championship Game appearances, three Super Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl victories. The 2009 AFC Championship featured the AFC North rivals going at it, and the game lived up to expectations.
Pittsburgh won that game 23-14, and it was powered by a crucial pick-six from safety Troy Polamalu. The Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl that year, and they went on to beat the Ravens in the AFC Divisional round two years later.
The Steelers are 3-0 against the Ravens in the playoffs, and they are 7-5 against the Ravens in the last 12 games between the teams. However, the Ravens emerged triumphant in 2012, as they brought home the Lombardi Trophy for the second time.
No team has dominated the rivalry at all, and the games have been tight. Eight of the last nine games have been decided by less than eight points, and seven of them have been decided by three points or fewer.
In addition, there has only been one game in which one team won by more than nine points since December of 2007. When the two teams square off, viewers get to see nail-biters.
And that has only helped the rivalry.
Ravens and Steelers fans heavily dislike each other, and the players aren't exactly best friends either. Steelers safety Ryan Clark bashed the Ravens after they lost the 2012 AFC Championship Game, and this came after he said that there was no rivalry with the Ravens until Baltimore started winning.
Lately, the Ravens have been winning. A three-game winning streak against Pittsburgh was jump-started by a thrilling win in Week 8 of the 2011 season, one that ended with a 26-yard touchdown catch from wide receiver Torrey Smith with eight seconds left.
To celebrate the win, Gatorade was dumped on Ravens coach John Harbaugh. In the regular season, which doesn't normally happen. But when the Ravens and Steelers square off, it isn't just a normal regular season game.
It's extremely hard to find two teams that play closer games than the Ravens and Steelers, and it's extremely hard to find two fanbases that dislike each other more.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh bring intense football, and as long as the two teams are in the AFC North, they'll be giving fans great games. That's all you can ask for in a rivalry, and that's what makes this rivalry the best in football.