Top 6 Biggest Feuds in the NFL Today
Life works better when we get to see great feuds in action. Whether in sports, history, or even TV and film, things are just more enjoyable when you know you're cheering on the good guys against the forces of evil.
Red Sox and Yankees. Lakers and Celtics. Hatfields and McCoys. Cowboys and Indians. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Simba and Scar. Spacely's Sprockets and Cogswell Cogs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Foot Clan. Bad Boy Records and Death Row Records.
Good feuds also have a place in the world of the NFL. Whether it's a shared division, regional disputes, or for reasons that kind of make sense when teams and players hit the field, the lesson in all of this is simple: good feuds equal good football.
Here are the best six feuds in the NFL today.
San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders
The San Francisco Bay Area just isn't big enough for these rivals.
While play gets heated on the field, the rivalry has taken some negative attention due to the violence of fans during their last preseason game in August. A pair of fans were found shot and several fights broke out during the game, and as a result, preseason games between the two teams have been ended.
Interestingly enough, the two teams had met earlier in the summer to discuss the possibility of sharing a new stadium.
Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers
It doesn't get more intense than the AFC North rivalry of the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Both defenses have no problems laying down the big hits, and they both eschew flashy playmaking for gritty hardness play on the offensive side of the ball.
While most rivalries lose their momentum with poor play by one of the sides, both of their teams have been among the best in football in the last five years. Year by year they are among the favorites in the AFC.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers hold the overall edge in the wins column, the Ravens did get a very enjoyable 35-7 win over its rival in Week 1.
New York Jets, New England Patriots
Few rivalries bring great press conference moments quite like the New York Jets and the New England Patriots.
The rivalry has picked up steam in the past few years with the improvement of the Jets under head coach Rex Ryan.
Both sides have taken their respective shots through the years. Ryan famously said when taking the Jets job that he wasn't here "to kiss (New England Patriots head coach) Bill Belichick's, you know, rings."
Meanwhile, when Deadspin reported Ryan may have shot some provocative, err, foot-age with his wife, it became comedy fodder for Patriots receiver Wes Welker (although Welker did apologize when the two met at the Pro Bowl).
The series has been pretty even since Ryan's arrival, with the Jets winning three of the five matchups between the two since 2009.
Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons
There's no doubt that receivers for the Philadelphia Eagles get a headache when they see the Atlanta Falcons on the schedule. They know they'll be in for some hard (if not cheap) hits.
The hits from Falcons corner Dunta Robinson have spurred debate from fans, players and the league. He was fined $25,000 in 2010 after blasting DeSean Jackson, and then received a $40,000 fine in Week 2 for his hit of Jeremy Maclin.
Even with the illegal hit controversy, it's not a stretch to say these two birds will flock together near the top of the NFC standings.
Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys
While Monday night's game between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys was a repugnant display that will hopefully be quickly forgotten, the rivalry between the two NFC East teams is one of the most enjoyable in football.
The two teams are constantly at each other, and the rivalry goes back to the late 1950s, when a Texas oilman attempted to buy the team but was rejected (he did however buy the rights to the song "Hail to the Redskins").
While Dallas holds a sizable lead in the wins column of the series, each game between the two teams usually brings out the best of their respective rosters.
Interestingly enough, the two teams' rivalry was also named the biggest NFL rivalry of all time in a ranking from Sports Illustrated.
Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers
You can't do a breakdown of NFL rivalries without the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. They're the longest running rivalry in football, and have won more championships than pretty much everybody.
The two faced off last season for the NFC championship, a game the Packers won on the way to winning the Super Bowl.
In addition to playing some of the best football around, the two teams also play in the least inviting venues in sports. Few places get colder than Soldier Field and the icy tundra of Lambeau Field.
While the rivalry is one of the most fierce in football, their intensity also is set upon a foundation of respect for each other.
"They love to fight, but there's a mutual respect beneath the superficial hostility," said Vince Lombardi biographer David Maraniss. "Even Lombardi and (the late Bears player, coach and owner George) Halas greatly respected each other, although Halas once visited Lombardi outside his locker room before a game and left saying, 'I'm going to beat your (posterior) today.' "
Chicago leads the all-time series 92-85-6, but the Packers were able to beat their rivals 27-17 on Sunday.