Packers vs. Bears: Is It the NFL's Best Rivalry?

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IJanuary 17, 2011

Packers vs. Bears: Is It the NFL's Best Rivalry?

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    GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is congratukated by quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on January 2, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    One of the greatest rivalries in sports is about to get another big chapter. The Green Bay Packers are headed to Chicago again to not only renew their rivalry for the third time this season, but for the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

    The Packers and the Bears have a great rivalry going back decades, and now is as good a time as any to debate where this particular rivalry stacks up with other NFL rivalries.

    You have a lot of east coast rivalries, but there are a few west coast rivalries that are gaining momentum as time goes on.

    This list is by no means the final word, have at it in the comments.

10. Browns vs. Steelers

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    CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns looks for a receiver as he is chased by defensive end Ziggy Hood #96 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by M
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    The Browns-Steelers rivalry is one that currently almost is non-existant, but it actually is a pretty bitter rivalry.

    The Browns have been far too poor a team since returning to the league for this rivalry to have kept its fire, but there are a few games that have risen the hackles of Steelers' fans.

    Cleveland and Pittsburgh aren't separated by much distance, and there's nothing more offensive to fans of either fanbase than having to listen to the other gloat about a victory.

    More than one fight has started over this in midwest bars, and while the Steelers currently rule this rivalry, the Browns used to own the Steelers. The only question now is when the worm will turn again.

9. 49ers vs. Seahawks

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 07:  Jim Harbaugh poses for a picture with President and CEO of the San Francisco 49ers, Jed York, (left) and general manager Trent Baalk following a press conference where Harbaugh was introduced as the new San Francisco 49ers
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    We're going to go ahead and put this on here now because with Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll facing off against each other with two teams poised to grow at the same time over the next few years, expect this rivalry to explode.

8. Browns vs. Ravens

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    CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 26:  Cornerback Lardarius Webb #21 of the Baltimore Ravens recovers a fumble as Ray Lewis #52, Dawan Landry #26 and lineman Joe Thomas #73 of the Cleveland Browns look on at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Cleveland,
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    The Browns make their second appearance on this list as they never want to lose to the old Browns.

    Browns-Ravens game automatically conjure up memories of Art Modell and The Move. No Browns fan likes to think about that, because the franchise still hasn't recovered from that move.

    The league handicapped the franchise during the start-up process. Then, that got compounded by one bad draft after another. Then, it became even worse by a string of short-sighted front office decisions that resulted in one losing season after another.

    The Browns now are entering their 12th year back in the league and have just hired their fifth head coach. The old Browns won a Super Bowl in 2000.

    That hurts.

7. Vikings vs. Packers

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    GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 24:  Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings breaks through the Green Bay Packers defense during their game at Lambeau Field on October 24, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jim Prisching/Getty Images)
    Jim Prisching/Getty Images

    The NFC North rivalries aren't just limited to Green Bay and Chicago. There's also that little rivalry with the Vikings.

    That rivalry has been more heated the last two years with Brett Favre going to the dark side, but this rivalry always was intense.

    Like the AFC North rivalries, part of it is based on geography. The teams are relatively close to each other and play each other twice a year.

    The NFC North is a brutal division, and this rivalry constantly keeps that reputation for brutality going.

    These games always sell out, and they're never fun for the loser.

6. Raiders vs. Broncos

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during their game against the Denver Broncos at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The West Coast isn't as rivalry-rich as the East Coast, but not because they haven't tried. The Oakland Raiders are as nasty of a team as they come, and the Raiders fans are very proud of that fact.

    When the Raiders meet the Broncos, though, the term "no mercy" usually comes to mind.

    This rivalry has swung in both directions over the years, but look no further to this past season when the Raiders were more than happy to run the score up on a clearly beaten Broncos team.

    That's what a rivalry is about, kicking the opponent when they're down, and it's a lot of fun when you're the team doing the kicking.

    When you're the team being kicked, though, that's when the rivalry really comes into focus because now the "revenge" factor really kicks in.

5. Eagles vs. Giants

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 19:  DeSean Jackson #10 of the Philadelphia Eagles eludes Matt Dodge #6 of the New York Giants and returns a punt for the winning touchdown as time runs out defeating the Giants 38-31 during their game on December 19, 2010 a
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The Eagles and Giants have produced two "Miracles At The Meadowlands," and neither of them ended well for New York.

    This rivalry is rooted in the traditional rivalry between the two cities that extends to every sport, political event and gathering the two cities have going back to the Founding Fathers.

    New York always sees itself as the Big Dog and Philadelphia always runs with the Underdog storyline, even when the Eagles clearly are the better team.

    These games always produce a few good highlights, and they almost always are memorable in some fashion.

    DeSean Jackson's runback earlier this season is just the latest "wow" moment in the rivalry.

4. Steelers vs. Ravens

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 15:  Marcus Smtih #11 of the Baltimore Ravens tackles Antwaan Randle El #82 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during a kick return in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    The Old Browns became the Ravens, and that rivalry has become just as vicious as the old rivalry was.

    Both teams have been consistently good for the last decade, and meeting in the playoffs isn't uncommon. Late season, matchups usually determine who goes to the playoffs or who wins the division and gets the higher seed.

    These games feature two brutal defenses punishing each other with the offensive units scratching and clawing for every yard they can get.

    The latest contest was to advance to the AFC Championship Game, and the Ravens came up short.

    You can bet that will carry over into the 2011 season.

3. Jets vs. Patriots

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Sione Pouha #91 of the New York Jets and Alge Crumpler #82 of the New England Patriots fight to recover a fumble by Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots of the New York Jets against during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff g
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The Jets rivalry with the Patriots goes far beyond the current war of words between Rex Ryan and Tom Brady.

    This is New York versus Boston, and that rivalry applies to every sport in the United States of America where there are teams in New York and Boston.

    The rivalry is pretty heated right now because of the playoffs and Ryan's mouth, but Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots take this rivalry just as seriously as the Jets do.

    No matter who wins one game, it means nothing the next time the two teams meet.

2. Cowboys vs. Redskins

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    ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 19:  Wide receiver Miles Austin #19 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball against Kevin Barnes #25 of the Washington Redskins at Cowboys Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Cowboys versus the Redskins is a classic, going back to the days of Tom Landry and old-school football.

    The rivalry began with ownership and has produced some memorable moments, including chickens on the field and several season-changing victories for both teams.

1. Packers vs. Bears

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  A Chicago Bears fan holds up a sign previewing next week's NFC championship game between the Bears and the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    This is two old-time football teams playing smashmouth football every time they get together.

    A Packers-Bears game means there are going to be hard hits in a close game.

    The next chapter of this rivalry is coming up this week for the chance to go to the Super Bowl.

    This rivalry was nasty from day one and don't expect it to let up with a Super Bowl on the line.