The NFL is built on classic rivalries, as is clear in the prime-time lineup for Week 10. First, the Cleveland Browns rolled over the Cincinnati Bengals on "Thursday Night Football," with an honest-to-goodness AFC North race adding some juice to the Battle of Ohio. Next comes the granddaddy of them all: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on "Sunday Night Football."
At the end of the day, the rivalry that has held up the best is
Packers, stretching all the way back to its beginning in 1921. There was even a time when the two teams played each other not just twice but three times per season. Through 189 contests (including two playoff matchups), the scoring differential is a razor-thin 60 points, in favor of the
Bears -- that averages out to about a third of a point per game. When I think of the greatness of this rivalry, I think of the trains that used to run between Green Bay and Chicago, ferrying supporters of the visiting team to each game -- and it was always a party going back, whether the fans on board were celebrating a win or a loss. This is the No. 1 rivalry today and of all time.
If we're talkin' division rivalries, I'll go with Pittsburgh-Baltimore, which is as hard-fought as it gets on a game-to-game basis. But, my first choice, when presented with this question, is Brady/Belichick vs. Manning. What a duel.
Now, I've been a part of some other great rivalries, including
Raiders, but nothing can match a
Ravens bout in prime time.
Green Bay-Chicago has history. So does Washington-Dallas. (And the passion still exists today in both bouts.) Baltimore and Pittsburgh have an amazing rivalry built on pure hatred.
But there's still nothing like Seattle vs. San Francisco in 2014. The coaches truly loathe each other, dating back to their Pac-10 days. The players despise each other. The fan bases are passionate. The Seahawks and 49ers have played in so many big and meaningful games of late. The teams are built the same way, with physical defenses and smash-mouth run games and electrifying quarterbacks.
This is the best rivalry in the NFL right now. And it is my favorite.