It is rivalry week in college football with matchups like Florida versus Florida State, Alabama facing Auburn and Ohio State taking on Michigan. Some of the most unforgettable contests of the decade have been played this weekend.
The game of football surely has enough intensity as it is. You throw some bad blood in there and things can really get turned up a notch. In college football, rivalries seem more competitive overall than in the NFL, but that is not to say certain matchups do not move the needle at the professional level.
I always wondered what a rivalry week would look like in the NFL. If it did exist, these matchups would have to be part of it.
Steelers vs. Ravens
Though every year these two teams look a little different, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens provide one of the most hard-hitting, down-to-the-wire matchups in the NFL.
Since Baltimore’s franchise was formed in 1996, these two teams have met at least twice a year. In these games, some of the best players in league history have gone up against each other. Players like Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jonathan Ogden and Shannon Sharpe would don the Ravens’ purple and black while the likes of Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, Jerome Bettis, Ben Roethlisberger and Casey Hampton would stand in their way.
Pittsburgh leads the overall series 28-23, but no matter who has played and who is currently playing, previous games go out the window when these two line up.
Packers vs. Vikings
Since 1961, this has been one of the most must-see games across the league. As two of the most historic franchises in NFL history, the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings have had some of the best players to ever step foot on the gridiron play in this rivalry.
The Vikings have boasted Adrian Peterson, Randy Moss, Chris Carter, Dante Culpepper, Jared Allen and John Randle — all of whom have tried to counter what is likely the best one-two quarterback progression in history starting with Brett Favre and then Aaron Rodgers.
In this part of the country, football is practically a religion. This is the sport's version of the Holy War.
Eagles vs. Cowboys
Talk about two fan bases and two teams that really do not like each other. This is the pinnacle of what feels like a rivalry game.
From 1965 through the mid-90s, the Dallas Cowboys were the team in the NFL. They dominated the league's landscape, and no one was able to match their success. But after hiring Andy Reid in 1999, the Philadelphia Eagles have only finished outside the top half of the division five times. There were many times, they topped the Cowboys.
As members of the same division, these two teams meet in meaningful games often. Dallas may lead the series 69-52, but Philadelphia has the most recent Super Bowl trophy between the two.
Seahawks vs. 49ers
This rivalry is relatively new. The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers did not consistently face each other until the division realignment in 2002. Since then, especially as of late, these two teams have had consistent competitive contests when lined up against each other.
The pinnacle of this came in the 2013 NFC Championship game when the famous "Legion of Boom" stopped the 49ers with what is now referred to as “The Swat.” Then-Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman swatted a pass intended for wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the end zone and a new rivalry was born.
Though the identities of these teams are different today, they still provide an exciting matchup.
Patriots vs. the World
The most lopsided rivalry of them all.
Since hiring head coach Bill Belichick in 2000 — really since quarterback Tom Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe in 2001 — the New England Patriots have been on the most dominant dynasty run in NFL history. Since Brady became the guy, the Patriots have won the division 15 times and only missed the playoffs twice — the two times they did not win the division, they finished second.
For as long as many can remember, it has been "anyone but the Patriots." But that wish hardly gets granted.
In a rivalry of New England versus the World, it's the world that often feels outmatched against the greatest coach and greatest quarterback in league history.