We know the classics: Washington-Dallas, Philadelphia-New York, Pittsburgh-Cleveland (Baltimore-Pittsburgh spawned from the original Cleveland Pittsburgh), Green Bay-Chicago, Oakland-Kansas City, and more. For each NFL team we live and die with, there’s always one or two teams we can’t stand. For a Browns fan like myself, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are my pet-peeves. In irony, I’m chill with Baltimore, as the raven is a key symbol in Germanic Paganism, but we’ll talk football in this article.
As the NFL dives deeper into becoming the ‘No Fun League,’ I like to spice things up. Interesting proposal? Rather than the final two games of a team’s schedule be decided by division placing the previous season, why not hand each NFL team one inter-conference rival? Like Interleague-Play in Major League Baseball, one AFC team gets a designated rival with one NFC team. Without further ado, my proposal goes as follows:
Dallas Cowboys versus the Pittsburgh Steelers: The Game. The NFL’s classic inter-conference rivalry. High school and college football being a big deal in both regions, eleven combined Super Bowl titles, and two legendary coaches makes Pittsburgh-Dallas the gold standard. Taking a page from Ohio State-Michigan, I call this one The Game.
Washington Redskins versus Baltimore Ravens: The Battle of D.C. consists of two successful franchises with a combined five Super Bowl titles. The cities are near, and the Redskins headquarters reside in Landover, Maryland. An Instant Classic from the beginning.
Cleveland Browns versus Detroit Lions: A Rivalry Reborn, also known as the Battle for the Great Lakes. The NFL’s most successful franchises from the 1950’s met in two NFL Championships and a combined eight NFL titles to their name. Two former model franchises with recent track records of futility will one day make this a key Super Bowl match-up (seriously). Let’s make them meet twice a year, since it might take a while before either team raises the Lombardi.
Cincinnati Bengals versus Chicago Bears: The teams in the Battle of the Midwest share initials and geographic landscapes. Want more fun? Both are second fiddle to the class of their division (Pittsburgh and Green Bay), but each possess a classic, hard-nosed style of play. Let’s create a new rivalry, shall we?
Los Angeles Chargers versus Los Angeles Rams: Two franchises with something in common: They simultaneously called Los Angeles home back in 1960. Both franchises left, and both returned. Oh, and both are sharing a venue once City of Champions Stadium begins its reign as the new Taj Mahal in the City of Angels. Let the Battle of Los Angeles begin.
Denver Broncos versus Seattle Seahawks: Two former division rivals met in the Super Bowl back in February 2014. A first in NFL history. It’s natural to place these two in the same category due to their history between 1977 and 2001, but also because of the geographic landscape the teams play in. I call it the Battle of the Great Northwest.
Oakland Raiders versus San Francisco 49ers: Sure, the Raiders will be in Las Vegas by 2020, but it won’t stop the hatred between these Bay Area rivals. Even in preseason we hear rowdy fans sparring in the stands. Why not make them play twice a year? The Battle of the Desert and the Bay, people.
Kansas City Chiefs versus Atlanta Falcons: This became a rivalry by default, but both wear red. Also, before being placed in the NFC South, the Falcons played in the NFC West from 1966 to 2001. We’ll make it a new rivalry.
New England Patriots versus Philadelphia Eagles: The Battle of the Liberty Bell takes place in the Cradle of Liberty. Are there two teams with more patriotic themes? The irony? Fans all over the NFL love to hate each due to the classlessness of these fanbases. But still, nothing screams America like the Patriots and Eagles.
Miami Dolphins versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Two conferences, two different lifestyles in their respective cities, one state. The Atlantic versus the Gulf. One team ran the table, the other ran it in reverse. I’m calling it the Battle of the Sunshine State.
New York Jets versus New York Giants: The Battle for the Big Apple in New Jersey. What’s not to love? The New York media, the Geno Smith saga, one of the NFL’s best franchises versus the NFL’s biggest laughingstock. I’m excited just thinking about it.
Buffalo Bills versus Minnesota Vikings: Similar climates and similar luck in eight combined Super Bowl appearances. But this isn’t the Battle of Futility. Far from it. Oh, and the Bills started play in 1960, the Vikes, 1961. The teams are brothers who love to fight.
Jacksonville Jaguars versus Carolina Panthers: Rivalry ’95. Two teams to make their respective conference championship games in their second season, numerous ups and downs, and a man named Steve Beuerlein played for both. Better yet, both entered the league with their own unique shades of teal and they faced off in their first ever preseason game.
Tennessee Titans versus New Orleans Saints: Battle of Dixieland. Two teams based in the Old South go head to head.
Houston Texans versus Arizona Cardinals: The Battle of the Southwest: Our two teams based in the Southwestern United States go head to head. While the Texans are the NFL’s youngest franchise, the Cardinals are the NFL’s oldest. As new faces old, we’ll see if the age factor decides this outcome.
Indianapolis versus Green Bay: Two teams based up north, where snow hammers the towns. From Bart Starr versus Johnny Unitas to Peyton Manning versus Brett Favre to Andrew Luck versus Aaron Rodgers, a rich quarterback history makes the game a must-see. Oh, and we can’t forget the longevity of each team’s classic threads. Indy and Green Bay feels so right.