*Note: This is 2009 specific, not historical rivalries*
There is nothing greater in the NFL than a rivalry game. NOTHING! Face it. I'm sorry, but anyone in Baltimore and Pittsburgh would rather see a "12-round slugfest" between the Ravens and Steelers than the Super Bowl. Likewise, anyone in Philly and Dallas would rather see an Eagles and Cowboys game rather than the Super Bowl.
Okay, maybe not EVERYONE, but you get the picture. These are the games where everyone makes the t-shirts and the funny photoshops. These are the games that everyone scrambles to buy tickets only to find out they've been sold out for six months.
I'm counting down those games and rivalries, and the trash talking that proceeds them and bragging that follows them. They will be ranked by:
2. Hate factor
4. Player relations(conflicts, trash talking etc etc)
5. Previous record of the team A vs team B.
6. Last game score
7. Questionable calls/non-calls/injuries(controversy)
8. Stadium hostility
9. Background (divisional/non divisional)
This is going to turn out to be a match up between Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler, a classic old vs young match-up. Despite the humbleness of Rodgers, Cutler is the new kid on the block, and has the mouth to match.
Prediction: Jay Cutler is good, but the offense around him still needs rebuilding, and it'll take more than him, especially with a weak receiving corps.
Green Bay, is re-vamped, and rebuilt, and it will show as the Packers sweep the Bears 2-0 in the series. Sorry Bears fans, all you can do is hope I'm wrong.
Everyone remembers the Patriots lone loss in 2007, but not everyone remembers their single ALMOST loss. The Ravens had just stopped the Pats on a fourth down on MNF, sealing the deal for the Birds. In the words of Billy Mays, BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE!!!
Rex Ryan had called a timeout, right before the snap, and a re-do was called. Of course, Tom Brady pulled a Tom Brady and took his team down to score.
Needless to say, I cried. The Ravens are itching for revenge, and the Patriots want to beat the Ravens because they "stole" their playoff spot last year.
Prediction: Nail biter. The Patriots running game will be a non-factor, because putting Lawrence Maroney against the Ravens run defense isn't even fair.
However, the young DBs of the Ravens have their work extremely cut out for them against the Brady-Moss-Welker connection. The Patriots will pull away with a victory in this.
Everyone remembers the Cardinal's 33-14 demolition of the Panthers in the NFC divisional playoffs. And everyone remembers that Jake Delhomme folds like a lawn chair after it gets to his head.
Now it's time to settle the score. Being at the top of their divisions, they both play each other this year again. If the Cardinals can keep playing the way they ended their season, and if Carolina does the opposite, we are in for a very, very good game.
Prediction: The Cardinals have the pleasure to face the Panthers in their home turf, which is a good omen considering the horrid way they played on the East Coast last year.
Carolina is coming into this game uncertain, given the strength of the NFC South teams this year. It's going to be a battle of the offenses mostly, with the Kurt Warner show taking on the Smith-Muhammed-Delhomme deal.
The only thing that separates them is that one has a better defense to back them up. The Panthers are going to pull away in a high scoring contest.
Aaahhhh yes, the meltdown. When you look back at the Jets 2008 season, it is hard to remember they were 8-3 at one point.
All anyone remembers is Favre coming out of "retirement" and going 1-4 in the last five games, culminating in a crucial loss to the Cinderella story Dolphins.
Coming off a magical turnaround, the Miami Dolphins beat the Jets 24-17 to capture the division crown. The Jets want a rematch, not only to beat their division rivals but to get this whole Brett Favre business off their chests.
Prediction: The Jets are going to rely on a repeat performance from Leon Washington and a solid performance from Mark Sanchez to help carry the Jets.
The Dolphins, however, with a much tougher schedule, but a more experienced team, are again going to have to have good repeat performances. The series will be split 1-1
In an exciting game between the division rivals, the Chargers had put on an amazing comeback, and stormed to a 38-31 lead. The Broncos weren't done either.
They took the ball all the way down to the one yard line with a minute to go. As Jay Cutler dropped back to pass on third down, he was hit and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Chargers.
But Referee Ed Hochuli thought otherwise, and ruled it an incomplete pass. Since there was no replay available due to equipment malfunction, the play stood. The Broncos eventually won, causing even more fuel to the fire. Speaking of which, the 52-21 demolition of the Broncos by the Chargers to win a playoff spot didn't due much good either.
Prediction: Another split series. People forget that the Broncos lost Jay Cutler, not their entire offense. They still have Owen Daniels and company, and I reckon Kyle Orton was only bad in Chicago because his receivers were very sub-par.
However, the Chargers are completely recharged (pun intended) with healthy Antonio Gates, Shawne Merriman, and LaDainian Tomlinson. And will be a top contender in the AFC.
This is not a rivalry of history, well, kind of. The last two meetings of the Colts and Ravens were Colts victories. The first being a tight matched game, and the second being a blowout.
The first was a divisional playoff Matt Stover vs Adam Vinateri field goal battle, as neither team could find the endzone. In the second game, this past season, the Ravens couldn't find the endzone, when they were crushed 35-3.
The Ravens, obviously, want revenge for the embarrassing losses. The Colts don't really have much to lose coming in to this game, but they are Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison-less, so they have something to prove.
Prediction: This is incredibly close to call. The Ravens have vastly improved, and the Colts still haven't adequately addressed their running back. But the Colts still have Reggie Wayne and Peyton Manning, so I am giving the game to Indianapolis.
This is a clash of quite possibly the two biggest egos in the NFL, and the two best receivers in the NFL. In the words of TO "Getcha popcorn ready." Because you should. And make sure to get a great combo deal for only $6.95!
But I digress. Randy Moss was a keystone for Matt Cassel's success last year, and for Tom Brady's 50 touchdown performance in 2007.
Despite good productivity, Owens was the instigator in the Cowboys late season meltdown, as well as meltdowns with the Eagles and 49ers. Both are extremely talented, with egos to match. Expect much trash talking.
Prediction: The Pats sweep the series. The Bills are still a year away from beating the Patriots, but expect much improvement from last years match-ups. Watch out Pats fans, in 2010, we could see the reverse of this sweep.
LenDale White and Keith Bulluck didn't think a little yellow towel could start so much. After their romp of the Steelers to clinch the AFC No. 1 seed, White and Bulluck decided to go the extra mile.
They did things to the Terrible Towel so terrible it angered an entire nation, the Steeler Nation. They stepped on it, wiped their noses with it, wiped their...well lets not go there for the sake of the children.
The Steelers never got a chance to exact their revenge, as the Ravens ousted them in the second round of the playoffs. But the NFL wanted the rivalry game, so they made it. The first game of the NFL 2009 regular season will be the Steelers vs Titans.
Prediction: Steeler victory. It sure as hell won't be easy, but they have the motivation, and title defense. The Titans have added some good players, but Kerry Collins is getting old, Haynesworth has left the building, and Chris Johnson has his work cut out for him.
Okay, this is an exception. This is based off history, but it has more recent events. Everyone remembers or at least knows about the infamous Bounty Bowls, and the comments that followed.
Well now everyone remembers the 41-6 destruction of the Cowboys for the last NFC playoff spot. That defeat marked the end of a turbulent season filled with complaining, drama, and a whole lot of finger pointing.
Prediction: Yet another split series. The Eagles have possibly the most improved team coming into 2009, but the Cowboys have the most returning talent of the two. Even without TO, the Cowboys are still a passing threat.
This takes the cake as the nastiest rivalry in the NFL since the Buddy Ryan vs Jimmy Johnson feud. These two teams hate each other. The fans hate each other, the players hate each other, and even the coaches hate each other.
Every game is filled with late hits, cheap shots, pushing, shoving, and lots of trash talk. And this isn't limited to just the players, the fans too.
The Steelers only made more people angry when they swept the Ravens in three games, albeit by 16 points total, including the AFC Championships, loaded with injuries and big hits on both sides. Now, the Ravens are urging even more to beat their most hated rivals. Circle the dates folks, you'll want to see them go at it. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!
Prediction: A bloody, brutal, and hard fought 1-1 series tie. Both teams will win at their respective home fields, as Heinz Field and M&T Bank Stadium are two of the most hostile places to play.
Pittsburgh's poor offensive line will be their demise in round one, and the Ravens weak passing game will spell doom in round two.
It took a long ass time for me to compile this information, and several drafts. I hope you enjoyed it. Feel to comment on this about any discrepancies, errors, fallacies, concerns, or general opinions.