It’s the team that makes your blood boil the most as a fan. When you see this team on the schedule, you know it’s going to be a fight. Simply put, you just don’t like this team. It’s your rivals, with players and fans that you simply can’t stand. In the National Football League, over the years, there have been plenty of great rivalries, and even more memorable moments from those rivalries.
So what makes a great rivalry? It can be anything from a big play that spawns into a memory for years to come in a big game, to geographical location with two cities that are so close it’s like kissing cousins. Some rivalries come from two teams meeting in the biggest of games in the postseason, with others coming from personalities on the teams that are not afraid to talk smack about the other.
No matter how they started, the NFL has seen a share of great feuds over the years, with some resulting in some of the greatest games in NFL history. Some players have had to play both sides of the feuds throughout the years, going from one team to the next and having to see the feud from a totally different view.
There’s no better feeling than taking home a win against your most heated rival, and on the other hand, it’s a sickening feeling when your rival pulls out a close win, or even when they beat the snot out of you.
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15 Tennessee Titans vs Houston Texans
The Titans, who were the Oilers in Houston, left the city in 1997 for greener pastures in Nashville and have had some success, with their biggest being a trip to the Super Bowl in the 1999 season. The Texans brought football back to Houston in 2002, and they've had some solid fights with the Titans, as the two teams play in the AFC South. The fans of Houston will always hate the Titans for taking their franchise and that's what makes this rivalry great.
The Titans currently lead the series 15-10, with another meeting coming in late November. The most memorable moment between the two teams came in November 2010 when Texans wide out Andre Johnson and Titans CB Courtland Finnegan got into a fight on the field.
14 San Francisco 49ers vs Seattle Seahawks
While these two teams first met in 1976, the recent games between these two foes from the NFC West have been as heated as any in the NFL. They had a classic NFC Championship Game in 2013, as the Seahawks won and advanced and won the Super Bowl. Many will remember the exchange between Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree at the end of that game, where Sherman shouted at Erin Andrews about how Crabtree was a sorry receiver.
Before 2002 the two clubs met rarely, but all that changed when they were paired together in the NFC West and since then it’s been a knockdown, drag out fight every time the two teams meet up.
13 New York Jets vs New England Patriots
A rivalry that we can see twice a year in the AFC East, things between these two foes really heated up when former Patriots assistant coach Eric Mangini was hired as the Jets head coach in 2006. The famous ‘Spygate’ incident, which took place in 2007, only made the rivalry even more intense.
The rivalry cooled until Rex Ryan came to town for the Jets in 2009, and in 2010 the Patriots were dealt a blow when Ryan’s Jets beat them in the AFC Divisional Playoffs. If you want to know how much Jets players hate the Patriots, just listen to his crazy interview after that game.
12 Oakland Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs
These two AFC West foes have had some great battles over the last 54 years, dating back to games back in the old AFL. The Chiefs lead the series 57-51-2, and have won two of three postseason games, which were played in 1968, 1970, and 1991.
The most memorable game may have been the 1969 AFL Championship Game, a battle where the Raiders were the favorites, but the Chiefs led by Hall of Fame QB Len Dawson, a solid run game and a punishing defense, upset Oakland 17-7.
11 Cincinnati Bengals vs Cleveland Browns
The Bengals and Browns rivalry is a pretty simple one, based on the fact the two cities are about four hours apart, and they both share a common bond in Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown, who is a huge name in the history of both teams.
The two clubs have met 81 times entering 2014, with the Bengals holding a slight 43-38 advantage. The teams have never met in the postseason, but have had two shootout meetings, combining for 106 points in a game in 2004 in Cincinnati, and 96 points in a September game in Cleveland in 2007. They will renew this rivalry on Thursday night.
10 Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns
Some say this rivalry has morphed into the Steelers-Ravens rivalry, as Cleveland moved and became the Ravens after the 1995 season. There’s plenty of bad blood in this feud, despite the fact the Steelers have dominated the rivalry recently, winning 36 of 46 games dating back to 1990. It’s the oldest rivalry in the AFC, with these two teams meeting 126 times.
The rivalry is known as the ‘Turnpike Rivalry,’ as just 134 miles separate the two cities. Two former Steelers coaches, Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher, at one point had ties with the Browns.
9 Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings
This rivalry goes back to 1961 when the Vikings came into the league as an expansion team, as there's only one team that the Packers have played more. In 108 meetings, the Packers lead the series 57-49-2. The Packers started the rivalry dominating Minnesota by winning 9 of the first 10 meetings.
The most recent storyline in this rivalry includes future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre, who led the Packers to a Super Bowl in the 1996 season, but then wound up playing for the Vikings as a free agent for two seasons.
8 New York Giants vs New England Patriots
It’s hard to argue this one since the Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NFL history on the Patriots, stopping their quest for an undefeated season in Super Bowl XLII. The two teams played another classic in Super Bowl XLVI just four years later, and once again the Giants were just a little bit better, winning 21-17.
The two clubs have met nine times since their first matchup in 1970, and the Patriots lead the regular season series 5-4.
7 Dallas Cowboys vs San Francisco 49ers
These two NFC powerhouses started their rivalry in 1981, when Dwight Clark made “The Catch” in the 1981 NFC Title Game that started a dynasty for the 49ers. The two teams picked things up during the 1990’s, as between 1992 and 1994 the teams met three straight years in the NFC Championship Game.
The two teams seemed to trade players via free agency to gain an upper hand on each other. WR Terrell Owens, CB Deion Sanders, Ken Norton Jr. and LB Charles Haley all played on both sides of the rivalry. The hatred was so high the team captains refused to shake hands before the 1993 NFC Title Game in Dallas.
6 Dallas Cowboys vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Many may not agree this is a true rivalry, but when you meet in the biggest game on Earth three times, you have to acknowledge it. The Cowboys and Steelers met in two incredible Super Bowls in the 1975 and 1978 seasons, with eventual Hall of Fame players all over the field.
Pittsburgh won the first two Super Bowls between the two clubs, taking offense that Dallas carried the title of “America’s Team.” One moment outside the Super Bowl that many recall was when Steelers LB L.C. Greenwood knocked out Cowboys Hall of Fame QB Roger Staubach during a 1979 game, leading to Staubach’s eventual retirement.
Dallas finally got a measure of revenge in the 1995 season, beating the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX by a score of 27-17.
5 Philadelphia Eagles vs New York Giants
This rivalry goes all the way back to 1933 with 165 meetings under their belts, and the Giants and Eagles are just two teams that don’t get along. The Giants lead the rivalry 85-78-2, and in four postseason meetings, the teams have each won two games.
The New York-Philadelphia rivalry in other sports is just as strong, but when these two football teams take the field, there are not many rivalries that are as fierce. Many fans point to a vicious hit by the Eagles Chuck Bednarik on Giants RB Frank Gifford during a game in 1960 that led to Gifford leaving the game for 18 months as a defining moment in the feud.
4 New England Patriots vs Indianapolis Colts
This rivalry could easily be titled “Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning.” Since 2001, these two teams have combined for seven AFC Titles, and have played each other in those games three times. From 1970 to 2001, the two teams played in the same division in the AFC East, but the most memorable games took place once Indianapolis moved to the AFC South.
Manning was defeated by Brady in the 2003 AFC Title game and 2004 divisional round, but got his revenge in the most memorable of these matchups, as the Colts overcame a 21-3 deficit in the 2006 AFC Title game to beat the Patriots 38-34 on their way to winning Super Bowl XLI in Miami.
3 Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers
When trying to think of two teams that just don’t like each other, these two teams are an easy place to start. Many think it’s the best rivalry in the NFL, and for good reason. The two clubs usually are at the top of the AFC North, fighting out for a division title. In three hard hitting matchups, Pittsburgh has won all three postseason games between the two.
The teams have met 41 times, with the Steelers leading the series 24-17. It’s rare to find two more hard hitting teams, and there’s not many times when these two foes go to battle that there’s not something on the line.
2 Washington Redskins vs Dallas Cowboys
Dallas vs. Washington has been an intense rivalry that has been the showcase of the NFC East since 1960. The two teams have met 109 times, with Dallas leading the series 64-43-2. The Redskins have won both postseason meetings, the last of which came 31 years ago in the NFC Title game.
The two clubs have combined for 31 divisional titles, as well as 8 Super Bowls. Many still feel the most memorable game between the teams was in 1974 on Thanksgiving when Cowboys rookie Clint Longley rallied Dallas to a 24-23 win over the Redskins at Texas Stadium.
1 Green Bay Packers vs Chicago Bears
When you think of NFL rivals, it has to start with the classic old-school feud between the Packers and Bears. The two teams have combined to play a whopping 189 times, with the Bears leading by a slim margin of 93-90-6. Green Bay and Chicago have combined for 22 NFL titles, 7 Super Bowl appearances, and 55 playoff appearances.
The two clubs went 70 years between playing each other in the postseason, from 1941 to 2011. The Packers avenged a loss from the playoffs in '41 with a 21-14 win in the NFC Title Game in 2011 to advance and eventually win Super Bowl XLV.
The first meeting back in 1921 saw the Chicago Staleys shutout the Packers 20-0. The following year Chicago became the Bears, and the rivalry has been heated ever since.
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