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Significant rivalries in the NFL: Wikis

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As with all sports leagues, there are a number of significant rivalries in the National Football League (NFL). Rivalries are occasionally created due to a particular event that causes bad blood between teams, players, coaches, or owners, but for the most part, they arise simply due to the frequency with which some teams play each other.

Contents

Background

Geographic rivalries are rare in the NFL, especially when compared to similar rivalries in college football and also when compared to other professional sports. For example, the New York Giants of the National Football Conference have a decent rivalry with their American Football Conference counterpart, the New York Jets; however, the intradivisional rivals of the Giants (Dallas, Philadelphia, and Washington) are usually more hated by Giants fans. A key reason is that the NFL schedule of 16 regular season games simply does not provide enough games for a team to play every other team every year. In comparison, National Basketball Association teams face every other team at least twice during the regular season, National Hockey League teams face every other team at least once during the regular season, and Major League Baseball teams face every other league or conference opponent at least 3 times during the regular season. In all 3 of those leagues, teams will face certain opponents many times (as many as 19 times in the regular season for baseball teams), which naturally leads to more opportunities for rivalries to develop. In recent years, the NFL has changed its scheduling formula to ensure that every possible matchup will happen eventually, but many of those matchups will occur only once every 3 to 4 years.

Games can be classified in 3 main groups:

  • Intradivisional: Games between opponents in the same NFL division. As of 2005, there are 32 teams in 8 divisions of 4 teams each. Each team plays each division opponent twice during the regular season (once at home, once away) for a total of 6 regular season games out of 16 total games. Thus, every NFL team, regardless of its age, could fairly be said to have at least 3 primary rivals.
  • Interdivisional: Games between opponents in different divisions but within the same conference. Teams do not play a given interdivisional opponent more than once during the regular season, however they may meet again for a second time in the Playoffs. The NFL schedules divisions to play against each other on a rotating basis, so that every team from one division will play every team from another division, for a total of 4 games per team; the division pairings rotate each year. Each team will also play 1 team from each of the remaining 2 divisions within the conference, for a grand total of 12 intraconference games. The matchups for these last 2 games are based on the previous year's standings, so that the 2 first place teams will play each other, the 2 second place teams will play each other, and so on. Conference games are often important, as a team's record in common games, as well as its overall record against its conference, is sometimes used as a tiebreaker for playoff seeding at the end of the regular season. Also, many regular season opponents have met again in the playoffs, and the result of a regular season game can affect where the playoff game will be played.
  • Interconference: Games between opponents in different conferences. Teams do not play a given interconference opponent more than once during the regular season. The NFL schedules interconference divisions to play each other on a rotating basis similar to the one described above.

The NFL, sportscasters, journalists, and fans typically use the terms "division rival" or "divisional rival" instead of "intradivisional rival", and "conference rival" (also "NFC rival" or "AFC rival") instead of "interdivisional rival." The use of a prefix such as "inter-" is reserved solely for games between opponents from different conferences.

The oldest NFL rivalry, dating back to when the league was founded in 1920, consists of its two remaining charter members: the Decatur Staleys/Chicago Bears and the Chicago/St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals. The longest consecutive game rivalry (at least one game played in each non-strike season) is between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. It dates back to 1921 and is currently approaching 180 games, with 48 Hall of Famers and 21 league championships between the two teams. In the AFC the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns have the longest rivalry with over 110 games, two in the playoffs, and 14 league titles between them. The "turnpike rivalry" as it is called is only separated by a two-hour drive and began during the 1950 NFL season. Both of these teams were NFL franchises predating the American Football League that formed the basis of the AFC, and were moved to the AFC when the leagues merged in 1970.

Intradivisional rivalries: AFC

Intradivisional rivalries: NFC

Intraconference rivalries: AFC

Intraconference rivalries: NFC

Interconference rivalries

See also

References

External links

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