Rivalry games are the bedrock of what makes the NFL so much fun to watch. Which annual tussles should hold center stage in 2014?
#5 – Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts
Some may ask how one can justify putting a team that was 2-14 last year on this list, but the source comes from the enticing plotline of the impending matchup. Andrew Luck is unquestionably the best quarterback in the AFC South for the Indianapolis Colts, and arguably one of the best in the NFL. To that end the Houston Texans made it their top priority to ensure he’s as uncomfortable as possible. That is why they paired star pass rusher J.J. Watt with highly touted rookie Jadeveon Clowney. How those two go about attacking Luck to break his hold on the division is a perfect subplot to how these teams have jockeyed for control over the past few years.
#4 – New York Jets vs. New England Patriots
People can say what they want about Rex Ryan and his coaching ability. What they must admit is that there is no more entertaining personality in football when it comes to stirring the rivalry pot. He’s done it ever since he took over the New York Jets in 2009 when he made it clear he would not bow to Bill Belichick and his New England Patriots. Since then the two teams have played in some heated contests, always tight and never lacking for drama. Last season was no exception as they split the series, each game decided by three points. Expect the stakes to be raised this time around.
#3 – Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Physical, nasty, thrilling and high stakes are all words that come to mind when describing the epic jousting the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have done for the past half decade. Though both teams missed the playoffs last season, they were in the thick of it all the way and split their two low-scoring affairs by a combined five points. Nothing figures to change since Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger are still two of the best and biggest quarterbacks leading this rivalry. NFL fans could only dream if they meet in the playoffs in January.
#2 – Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
No longer is it the oldest rivalry in the league. That alone could get it on the list, but the recent history has become far more thrilling between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. It doesn’t seem to matter where they play or when they play. Whenever the two cornerstone franchises lock horns, fans are treated to a display of pure football ecstasy complete with big names and big moments. The fireworks display they put on at Soldier Field last season alone was worth this spot at #2. Can things possibly get better?
#1 – Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers
Avid NFL historians will call this a microwave rivalry, perhaps justifiably. Still, there is no doubting that the bad blood between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers runs deep. Not only do they feature two of the strongest and deepest rosters in the league, they also are the two previous NFC Super Bowl participants. If that weren’t enough, their head coaches have their own personal rivalry that dates back to their days in college. It is fierce, physical, nasty and important every time they play each other. That is why they stand on top.