The chemistry behind an NFL rivalry includes mixing a heated division rivalry, some geographic proximity or relation, and a slew of other factors that turn everyday people into bloodthirsty warmongers on Sundays in Fall.
Some rivalries are sparked by a single game, and others are passed along from generation to generation. Some rivalries tend to cool off with transitional phases, and others are marked by embitterment by their rival’s success. The follow rivalries are the most heated ones to look out for in 2016-2017.
When you get to be as good as the Patriots, you start to get infamous. ‘Deflategate’ definitely didn’t help the Patriots’ image either. The most intense Patriots rivalries are against the Colts, Raiders, Jets, and now Broncos. The Patriots and Colts rivalry was amplified by the Brady v Manning QB showdown, which transferred over to the Broncos when Peyton moved to Denver. The Pats-Raiders rivalry is entwined in their long history but is hardly as important now, and the Jets are too bad of a team to have a genuine rivalry with the Pats. The Pats are always in the crosshairs for every fellow AFC East team and some of the Pats-Fins,Bills and Jets matchups are surprisingly close.
This rivalry has cooled down in recent years since both teams diverged into different spectrums on the team quality scale. The Broncos developed a Super Bowl-caliber team led by Peyton Manning, and the Raiders were filled with frustration and internal strife. Although the Raiders lead the series 61-50-2 (including playoffs), the Broncos lead the last 10 encounters 8-2. With Peyton out of the picture and the Broncos on a steady decline, and the Raiders gaining ground in dramatic fashion, it will be interesting to see the rivalry between these two start to heat up. See another chapter written on Sunday as they battle it out for the No.1 spot in the AFC West.
If you got a chance to watch the Falcons-Saints 45-32 game in Week 3, you’ll know what I’m talking about. NFL teams in the South tend to have fanbases that are crazy about football. Whether it’s for the SEC in the NCAA, or about the NFL home team, they will travel hours to watch rivalry games because they know they will be good. Atlanta leads the series 50-45, and each game is filled with aggressive football on offense and a defense looking for the kill.
This rivalry is said be born out of pure hatred. Not only are Pittsburgh and Baltimore close enough to have fans on each side, the proximity allows both fanbases to travel to each home game. Both teams have been pretty good in recent years and have only just started slipping up this season. Since both of them are headed towards being the same low quality, their matchup should still be pretty interesting. Both teams have great quarterbacks at the helm, even if they are not playing as great this year. Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger play close to their best when it comes to these matchups as well.
This rivalry is as heated as any, and with Carson Wentz backing up Philly, the Giants have something to worry about. The Giants lead the rivalry 85-81-2, but things might be changing soon. This rivalry is likened to the successful neighbor (the Giants) who won four Super Bowls always fighting with the scrappy, unsuccessful neighbor (the Eagles) who have been to the Super Bowl twice but haven’t been able to win.
Growing up as a Dolphins fan in Dolphins territory, I was always surprised by the amount of New York Jets transplants in South Florida. When I visited New York, I was equally surprised by the amount of Dolphins fans. It’s an odd rivalry, but the migration between the two states has bred this rivalry. Both teams look like squabbling kids in the back seat as the Patriots drive the AFC East, but it’s a great rivalry nonetheless.