NFL Rivalries: Jets-Patriots, Steelers-Ravens Are Not Rivalries

Mike MuellerContributor IIDecember 2, 2010

Mark Sanchez and the Jets will face the New England Patriots Monday night.
Mark Sanchez and the Jets will face the New England Patriots Monday night.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Is anybody else getting tired of hearing about the NFL’s big rivalry weekend?

Let’s just call it what it is: two matchups between four really good football teams.

The Patriots-Jets and Ravens-Steelers are not rivals. Fact is, there are no rivalries in professional sports anymore. Free agency and big contracts killed that notion a long time ago.

Today’s athlete doesn’t give a damn about the history of a series. All they care about is the competition and their paycheck. Let’s not kid ourselves here, people. These guys don’t really hate the other team. It’s all an act for the media outlets to feast on.

I bet you any amount of money that Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan will shake hands after the game, along with the players. It’s really not that big of a deal. Same goes for the hated "rivals" of the Steelers and Ravens.

Don’t get me wrong, both are must-watch games with some great storylines—but a rivalry, I don’t think so.

Rivalry games are supposed to be competitive. If that’s the case, then why are the Patriots 13-5 against the Jets since 2002 and 1-0 against the J-E-T-S in the playoffs?

Same goes for Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger owns the Ravens and is 7-2 all-time against Baltimore. Not much of a rivalry—sorry.

Every big game doesn’t have to be built into a rivalry. Why can’t it just be a big game? The Jets, Patriots, Steelers and Ravens are the top four teams in the AFC and have a combined record of 34-10. Chances are that one of those four will probably be playing in the Super Bowl.

Fans are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. They’ll watch both games this weekend because of the quality of the teams, not just because of the matchup.

Ask yourself this question. Would everyone still care about these games if those teams had losing records?  My guess is probably not, and definitely not from a media perspective.

Let’s stop hyping games and teams just for the sake of hype. The Jets (9-2) against the Patriots (9-2) and the Steelers (8-3) against the Ravens (8-3) sell themselves. We don’t need any more help than that.