Is Packers vs. Bears NFL's Best Rivalry?

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Is Packers vs. Bears NFL's Best Rivalry?
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The Green Bay Packers will play the Chicago Bears for the 183rd time as they invade Solider Field for the teams' Week 3 matchup. The NFL's oldest rivalry remains the best in the league as its longevity, championship level play and respect between the franchises separate Packers-Bears from all other NFL rivalries. 

 

Longevity 

The first meeting of the teams took place on November 27, 1921 with the Bears beating down the Packers in a 20-0 shutout. The teams played each other every year until 1982 as the shortened season cost the rivalry a matchup that year. 

Since the matchup began, the country has survived the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the September 11 attacks and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. There have been 16 Presidents in the Oval Office during the time span. 

In 1921, when the Packers and Bears first squared off, a half gallon of milk would run you around $0.33. Now, a half gallon of milk is around $1.79. Since the rivalry began, the United States has seen the introduction of the 49th and 50th states.  

The all-time series has been led by the Bears as they gone 92-84-6 against the Packers. The last time Green Bay led the series was in 1933. Since 1990, the Packers have closed the game between the teams as they have won 27 of the 43 games played since then.

 

Championship Level Competition

The rivalry features the two most successful teams in the history of the NFL combining for 22 championships, with the Packers accounting for 13 and the Bears for nine. Since the creation of the Super Bowl, the teams have combined for five Super Bowl championships as the Packers have four and the Bears have one. 

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Since their creation in 1919, the Bears have won an NFL-leading 705 games in their team's history with the second-place Packers trailing them by 39 wins with 666 total. The New York Giants are the only other team that has reached the 600-win mark while only five others have broken 500 wins.

Ever since the birth of what is now the NFC North, the Packers and Bears have accounted for 20 of the 44 division titles that have been won by the five teams that have played in the division. The Minnesota Vikings alone have 18, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Detroit Lions have each won three.

Recently, the Packers and Bears have dominated division play, winning a combined eight division titles in the last 10 seasons. Over those 10 years, the Packers and Bears have each won four of the eight combined titles.

 

Respected but Hated

For the Packers and Bears fans, hate isn't a strong enough word to describe the intense feelings towards the opposite team, organization and fan base. While the fans may not agree, there is a level of mutual respect between the organizations that has allowed the rivalry to thrive. 

"I think there's a strong competitive rivalry between the two teams and between the players, but there's also a lot of respect..." Aaron Rodgers responded when asked about the rivalry. "Obviously I have a lot of respect for those guys on the team. It's not... Pittsburgh-Baltimore where there's going to be a fight every other play. It's just two very competitive teams and competitive players who enjoy playing each other and enjoy beating each other."

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The mutual respect between players and organization has allowed the level of on-field play between the teams to skyrocket and produce a superior product. The players and coaches have left the intense feeling of hatred for the fans.

Although, this is not to say the coaches and players do not care about the rivalry. Upon his hiring in 2004, Bears head coach Lovie Smith laid out his three goals for the franchise. His No. 1 goal for the Bears was to beat the Packers. The second and third goals were to win the division and to win the Super Bowl.

The NFL has seen plenty of great rivalries throughout its history, but none have the longevity, championship level of success and mutual respect that make the Packers-Bears rivalry as great as it is.

Over the last 10 years, the NFL has seen rivalries like the Pittsburgh Steelers-Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets-New England Patriots gain more prevalence, but neither has withstood the test of time that the Packers-Bears rivalry has.  

The rivalry between the Packers and Bears has been unmatched throughout the history of the NFL. The longevity, success of both teams and the mutual respect between franchises set this rivalry apart as the best in the history of the NFL. 

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