The Absolute Best Rivalries In NFL History

July 16, 2022
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The NFL has over 100 years of history, but there isn’t a rivalry that rises above these. Which would you pick as the absolute best rivalry?

Dallas Cowboys & New York Giants

The NFC East essentially has a four-way rivalry. Washington, Philly, New York, and Dallas have been battling it out since the 1968 season. However, the Cowboys and Giants heading this division-wide rivalry. These two franchises have had the most success and have arguably the biggest fan bases as well, which always spices up any rivalry.

Unfortunately for the Giants, the Cowboys have dominated this rivalry in just about every respect. The Cowboys have a Super Bowl advantage, the Division Championship lead, and the head-to-head lead with a 71-47-1 record. The Giants’ biggest claim to fame is the win in their lone playoff matchup. This is one of the NFL’s oldest rivalries and it is a darn good one.

Pittsburgh Steelers & Baltimore Ravens

This AFC North rivalry is by far the youngest one on this list, but it has quickly ascended in the ranks due to the intense hatred these two teams and their fans have for one another. The way the Ravens were established set the stage for this rivalry when the Cleveland Browns carried their players and personnel over to Baltimore. Since their first meeting in 1996, the Steelers and Ravens have been two of the more successful franchises in the league.

Collectively, they have accounted for four of the last 25 Super Bowl champions. Having two relevant teams clash with one another over the last two decades makes this one of the more exciting matchups to watch year in and year out. These fanbases are both very passionate about their teams and that adds fuel to the fire.

The Steelers own this rivalry as it stands, they lead 32-24. But that doesn’t mean the Ravens haven’t stolen some key games from Pittsburgh over the years. It is safe to say this rivalry is just getting started.

Green Bay Packers & Chicago Bears

This may be the most important rivalry in the NFL as it was the first. These two teams have been going head to head since 1921. With over 100 years of history between the two, things certainly can get heated. The Bears, known for their amazing defenses of the 80s, and the Packers, known for their amazing offenses, are polar opposites, despite them only being 200 miles apart.

Both share the coast of Lake Michigan, so the climate for their games is usually pretty rough. Whether it is Reggie White sacking the Bears QB, or Walter Peyton galloping through the defense of the Packers, there is no shortage of all-time great players who have suited up in this rivalry.

The Packers currently hold the advantage in their 204 meetings, leading 103 games to the Bears’ 95 with six ties between the two. The Packers have also dominated in the overall success category, leading four Super Bowls to just one, with seven more division titles since 1967. Whether you say “Go, Pack, Go!” or “Daaaaaaa Bears”, you have to appreciate the NFL’s oldest rivalry.

Kansas City Chiefs & Las Vegas Raiders

While the Bears and Packers are the premier NFL rivalry, this one started back in 1960 during the AFL days. A lot has changed since then as the Chiefs were known as the Dallas Texans and the Raiders were still in Oakland. The Chiefs would come to fruition in 1963 when Lamar Hunt moved the team to Kansas City, that was when things really started to ramp this rivalry up.

Prior to moving to Kansas City, the Texans had five games to one advantage over the Raiders. However, the Raiders turned it up on the Chiefs, taking the series advantage before the end of the decade. In the 1969 season, the Raiders swept the Chiefs during the regular season before they would eventually meet up in the final AFL Championship before the merger with the NFL. The Chiefs would overcome the Raiders, punching their ticket to their second Super Bowl where they would go on to win against the Vikings.

The Raiders would turn in some fantastic seasons in the 70s & 80s, while the middling Chiefs struggled to keep up. The Raiders would turn in three Super Bowl wins during this time frame, securing the division title ten times from 1970 to 1990. The Chiefs would only secure one for themselves over this time frame. Tides would turn in the 90s and 2000s as the Chiefs would eventually take the series advantage back from the Raiders leading with a record of 70-54-2.

This is a showdown that finds itself on primetime television every year. Both of these fanbases as super passionate and travel very well. This season should add another phenomenal chapter to the AFC’s best rivalry.

Dallas Cowboys & Pittsburgh Steelers

Talk about two NFL juggernauts, the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the top five for Super Bowl wins, top ten in win percentage, and set the stage for the first Super Bowl rivalry in the NFL. It all started with their classic clashes in the 1970s, Chuck Noll and Tom Landry, Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris and Tony Dorsett, John Stallworth and Drew Pearson, the Hall of Famers from this rivalry are unlike any other.

From 1970 to 1979, there were ten Super Bowls. Only four of those games did not feature the Cowboys or Steelers. The Cowboys secured titles in ’71 and ’78, while the Steelers won three in ’75, ’76, and ’79. They would also go on to win another in 1980. The Cowboys and Steelers clashed in Super Bowl X and XIII, with the Steelers securing the championship in both. This decade, however, grew the fanbases of these two franchises exponentially, which would go on to fuel their rivalry over the following decades.

The Cowboys and Steelers would go on to face one another in 1996 hoping to prevent the Cowboys’ third Super Bowl in four years, a win that would help the franchise tie the Steelers in overall Super Bowl championships. The Cowboys high-powered offense propelled them to the victory over the Steelers, earning them their fifth championship, tying the Steelers, and re-igniting the rivalry.

The Cowboys have not returned to the Super Bowl since, but the Steelers have gone back two more times, winning one, and surpassing the Cowboys as the winningest team in league history (tied with the Patriots). The Steelers may have the edge in Super Bowl matchups, but the Cowboys lead the all-time series 17-16. When these two titans of the NFL clash, all eyes are on the Cowboys and Steelers, making it the most important NFC-AFC rivalry the NFL has to offer.

Dan Portillo

Check out some of Dan’s other Stadium Rant content here. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_tf40 and check in with his podcast The Fastest 40 on SpotifyAnchorApple Podcasts, & anywhere you listen to podcasts!