Rivalries define sports. They add intensity and determination into every moment of action and make it more than just a game. Every play, every drive, every quarter can determine a game and can turn an average rivalry game into an instant classic. From the incredible Miracles at the Meadowlands to the Monday Night Miracle, rivalries turn games into battles. Here are the five best rivalries in the NFL today.
The league's longest running rivalry hasn't lost its luster. The NFC North rivals have combined for 22 NFL Championships, five Super Bowls and 48 Hall of Famers since the rivalry began in 1921. In 182 regular and postseason games, Chicago has won 94 times, Green Bay 84 times and the two teams have drawn six times. Last season, the rivalry reached one of its most intense points, as the Packers and Bears met a total of three times, with each game decided by a touchdown or less. In a fiery NFC Championship game, the Packers claimed an early 14-0 lead, while also knocking out Bears star quarterback Jay Cutler.
A valiant effort from Chicago made the game close, but a clutch interception from Sam Shields with just 37 seconds remaining ended the Bears unlikely comeback and sent Green Bay to the Super Bowl. With both of the historic franchises possessing star quarterbacks and stingy defenses, this intense divisional rivalry still has a lot of fuel in the tank.
The NFC South also claims one of the greatest rivalries in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons were established just one year apart and were the first National Football League teams to appear in the Deep South. The rivalry has seen 84 games, with Atlanta leading the all-time series 45-39. Each team has made one Super Bowl appearance and has won the division a total of four times.
Each fan base considers the other their biggest competition and it has been considered one of the greatest rivalries in southern sports. Last year, each team claimed a playoff spot, but both had early exits. With both franchises claiming elite quarterbacks and talented young position players, the rivalry has yet to reach its finest days. The Falcons and Saints both possess two of the most potent offenses in football and they are sure to meet in the postseason in the next few years.
The New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles have one of the most storied and historic rivalries in NFL history. The rivalry began in 1933 and the two teams have met 154 teams, with the Giants leading the series 80-72-2. The franchises have combined for 10 NFL Championships, four Super Bowls and 15 divisional titles. The NFC East rivals have also met four times in the postseason, with each team claiming two wins. The rivalry has been defined by moments such as the Miracle at the Meadowlands and Chuck Bednarik's colossal hit on Frank Gifford in 1960. Last season, the rivalry had one of its all time great battles as the Eagles came back from a 28-7 fourth quarter deficit to beat the Giants 38-31 on DeSean Jackson's punt return in the final seconds. Each team boasts potent offenses and feared defenses, and with Philadelphia's outstanding free agent signings, the rivals could be meeting in playoff games for years to come.
The rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens has often been described as one of the most intense in the NFL. The teams are known as the powerhouses of the AFC North and they are the only two teams in the division to win the Super Bowl. The intensity of the rivalry is often created by the feared defenses both teams possess and injuries and low scoring games are standard in the rivalry.
The franchises have met 33 times since the Ravens inception in 1996, with the Steelers claiming 21 wins, compared to Baltimore's 12. The organizations have also met three times in the postseason since 2002, with the Steelers claiming all three games. The coaches, fans and players involved in this fierce rivalry are all known to despise, yet respect, the other franchise and they both see each other as their biggest competition. Both organizations claim young and diligent quarterbacks, superb young running backs, high-end receiving corps and phenomenal defenses. The Ravens and the Steelers are the class of their division and will meet in many more vigorous battles for years to come.
The New England Patriots and the New York Jets possess the greatest and the most fierce rivalry in the NFL today. The AFC East rivals have together claimed four Super Bowl titles, 14 Divisional titles and 16 Wild Card berths. The rivalry between the two is the closest in the NFL, as the Jets lead the all time series 52-51-1.
New England formed a dynasty early last decade, as they claimed three Super Bowl titles. The Jets weren't far behind, as they have appeared in the last two AFC Championship games. The rivalry has really heated up since Rex Ryan's arrival as Jets head coach in 2009, as each team has claimed two wins since then in the regular season, with New York claiming the lone postseason game between the two.
The franchises are currently the powerhouses of their division and each organization builds teams around what can beat the other. The Patriots possess a potent offense, led by future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. The Jets main strength is their fierce defense, known to be one of the best in all of football. Both franchises look like dynasties in the making and the rivalry seems like it will only get better.