There are many that will always say that the Chicago Bears are the biggest rival of the Green Bay Packers. They have played each other since 1921. They have played each other 181 times (the Bears lead the series 91-84 with 6 ties). They will face each other for the 182nd time on Christmas night at Lambeau Field, as the 13-1 Packers try to clinch home-field advantage for the NFC playoffs vs. the 7-7 Bears.
The two teams have also met twice in the postseason, where the record is even at 1-1. The Bears beat the Packers 33-14 in a divisional playoff game in 1941 (a week after Pearl Harbor), while the Packers defeated the Bears 21-14 last year in the NFC Championship Game. The Packers have won 13 NFL championships, while the Bears have won nine.
The Packers had Lambeau and Lombardi while the Bears had Halas. The Packers had Nitschke and the Bears had Butkus. The Packers had Hornung and Taylor and the Bears had Sayers and Payton.
Now the Bears have Jay Cutler, while the Packers have Aaron Rodgers. The Bears won back-to-back NFC North titles in 2005 and 2006, and then again last season. But the Packers won the NFC North in 2007 and this current season, while the Minnesota Vikings won the division in 2008 and 2009. Before 2005, the Packers had won 3three straight NFC North titles from 2002 to 2004.
The NFC North/NFC Central has also been dominated by the Vikings since divisional play started in 1967. The Vikings have won 18 divisional titles, while the Packers have won 10, with the Bears winning nine times. The Detroit Lions won three divisional titles in that time span and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also won three divisional titles as well while they were in the division.
The Packers and Bears were the only divisional champs to win a Super Bowl. The Vikings are 0-4 in the Super Bowl, but haven't been in one since the 1970s.
There are others that say the Vikings are the Packers' biggest rival. It is an interesting argument. Before the Vikings came into the NFL in 1961, the residents of the state of Minnesota were pretty much Packers fans. That has definitely changed. Especially after a certain quarterback named Brett Favre played for Minnesota for a couple of years after his career in Green Bay was over. The Packers now lead the overall series by a 53-47-1 margin.
The series between the Packers and Vikings started when Vince Lombardi was head coach. The Packers were 11-3 against the Vikings during that time. But from 1968 to 1979, the Vikings thoroughly dominated the Packers by going 19-4-1.
The 1970s were definitely the Vikings high water mark as they were in their four Super Bowls during that era. But the Vikes could never raise the Lombardi Trophy as they were defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders.
The Packers have been in five Super Bowls, and won four of them. However, the Vikings did tarnish the Packers' 29-16 playoff record by defeating the Packers at Lambeau Field after the 2004 season, 31-17. That was only the second time the Packers had ever lost a home playoff game.
In terms of who is the Packers biggest rival, I see both sides in that discussion. On one side, the Packers and Bears were playing 40 years before the Vikings even existed. On the other hand, the Vikings have had the most success in the division for about 40 years.
The way I see it, the Bears are still the number one rival, while the rivalry with the Vikings was invigorated by the presence of Favre wearing the horns on his helmet. The Vikings would also be advised to get a new stadium soon before they are forced to relocate (the University of Minnesota just built one a couple years back). Options are being discussed as I write this.
Oh yes, there is one other team in the NFC North.
The hapless Lions didn't win a game at all in 2008, going 0-16. The Lions haven't been in a NFC Championship Game since 1991, and haven't won a NFL championship since 1957. They also have never been in a Super Bowl.
However, the Lions have definitely improved since 2008. In fact, the 9-5 Lions appear to have a real good chance to be a NFC Wild Card team in 2011. Time will tell, as the Lions still have to play the San Diego Chargers at home and the Packers at Lambeau Field the last two games of the season.
The Packers have pretty much had their way with the Lions ever since they first started playing them in 1930, when the Lions were then known as the Portsmouth Spartans until they moved to Detroit in 1934. In the over 80 years that the Packers and Lions have played, the Packers have a 90-65-7 edge in the regular season series. The Packers have also won two postseason games vs. the Lions.
Then there is this little nugget: the Lions have not won a game in the state of Wisconsin since 1991.
Bottom line, the NFC North looks to be a very competitive division for years to come. The biggest reason? The quarterbacks for each team. You have Rodgers with the Packers, Cutler with the Bears, Matthew Stafford with the Lions (has a shot at the Pro Bowl this year) and now rookie Christian Ponder with the Vikings, who shows promise.
But who is the biggest rival of the Packers? Give me da Bears.