Top 15 NFL team rivalries of all-time

Packers vs Bears
The Packers and Bears are one of the NFL's most famous rivalries. Photo from TMJ4.

In the NFL, the standings matter, but it’s always the biggest NFL rivalries that get the most attention. There are certain matchups where you can throw out the records because it comes down to who hates the other team the most.

The greatest NFL rivalries of all time are truly transcendent. They have history and hatred with one another that goes back for decades. Of course, there are plenty of matchups where that intensity exists, making it tough to separate some of the top rivalries in NFL history.

Biggest NFL rivalries of all-time

It wasn’t easy, but we looked at the most hated NFL teams, the longest-running rivalries, and the teams that can’t stop playing intense and meaningful games against one another.

We managed to come up with a list of the biggest NFL rivalries in the history of the NFL.

Falcons vs Panthers

While this is a relatively new rivalry, things have heated up quickly ever since the Panthers came into existence in 1995. The two cities are only a few hours apart, which means that every game has fans from both teams, almost creating a college bowl game atmosphere.

That proximity, as well as the two annual meetings, have quietly turned this into one of the league’s top rivalries.

Vikings vs Packers

It’s no coincidence that this game usually finds its way into a primetime TV slot. While the rivalry dates back to 1961, things picked up in the 21st century when the Vikings became the biggest threat to Green Bay’s superiority over the rest of the division.


In fact, the Vikings have long been a thorn in the side of the Packers, and matchups in this rivalry often have relevance in the playoff race, which has also added to the intensity of this rivalry over the years.

Bengals vs Steelers

Historically, this rivalry hasn’t been among the most noteworthy in the NFL. But things have gotten downright dirty between these teams in recent years, which has led them to absolutely hate each other.

Unfortunately, things have crossed the line at times, which is why this rivalry has to be listed among the best in the NFL.

Broncos vs Raiders

There have been moments in this rivalry when it was the most hate-filled in the NFL. There have been more than a few times when things got heated to the point of getting out of control.

Keep in mind that both franchises have spent plenty of time among the elite teams in the AFC, so there is usually something meaningful on the line when they meet, adding to the intensity between these long-time division rivals.

Lions vs Packers

The fact that this rivalry dates back to 1930 is enough to make it one of the best in the NFL.

In fact, it’s the longest-running rivalry in the league, so it’s safe to say that familiarity has led to contempt between the Lions and the Pack.

Of course, the rivalry has been a little too one-sided for the past quarter-century. There is also a surprising lack of playoff games (just two) despite the history between these teams. However, it remains a noteworthy rivalry.

Steelers vs Cowboys

These two teams don’t share a division or even a conference, but there have been some incredible games between them, including three Super Bowls. The Steelers and Cowboys are both among the most prestigious franchises in NFL history, so it’s a big deal every time they meet.

If you just look back at some of the games between these teams, even if they won’t meet frequently, you’ll see why it’s such a big rivalry.

Washington vs Eagles

Not every rivalry has a game that’s referred to as the “Body Bag Game,” which is what helps separate the Philadelphia-Washington rivalry from most division rivalries.

That game in which nine Washington players left injured is just the tip of the iceberg in what has been an intense rivalry since 1934. There is a rich history to this rivalry, not to mention proximity and animosity between the two cities in football and other sports.

Bills vs Dolphins

This rivalry has seen plenty of peaks and valleys. It also took a backseat during the early part of the 21st century when the Patriots became the dominant team in the AFC East.

But during the 1990s when Jim Kelly and Dan Marino were leading their teams, it was hard to find a better rivalry. Not only did they meet twice every season, but the Bills and Dolphins played each other in the playoffs four times during the 90s. That took this rivalry to another level, even if things have cooled off a little bit since then.

Steelers vs Ravens

This is another young rivalry, but it’s one that has quickly become one of the most intense in the NFL. Both the Ravens and Steelers are known for being strong defensive teams that aren’t afraid to hit hard and get physical.

That’s usually a good recipe for a rivalry, and in the case of the Steelers and Ravens, that hatred has continued to grow year after year. Plus, both teams are usually competing for a division crown and have already met in the playoffs several times even though the rivalry has only existed since 1996.

Raiders vs Chiefs

Out of the many intense rivalries in the AFC West, this one takes the cake.

Both franchises know a thing or two about on-field success and both have fanbases that are a little crazy but in a good way. There is certainly some level of respect between the Chiefs and Raiders, although when the lights go on, this rivalry is as intense as any in the league.

Giants vs Eagles

Virtually every game in the NFC East is a rivalry game and the Giants-Eagles matchup is no different.

There has long been animosity between all sports teams from New York and Philadelphia, and two annual meetings every year since 1933 has made this one of the oldest and most intense rivalries in the NFL.

Another thing that makes this rivalry special is the fact that the all-time series is virtually even. The series lead can easily sway one way or another if either team sweeps the season series in a given year; it’s that close between the Giants and Eagles.

Browns vs Steelers

The cities of Cleveland and Pittsburgh are close and both are known for being tough, working-class towns, so it’s only natural for the Browns and Steelers to have a long-standing rivalry.

Outside of the time that the Browns were out of the league, these two sides have been going at it since 1950.

If there was any thought that the rivalry had lost some luster after the Browns returned as a franchise and struggled, that went out the door during a brawl between Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph in 2019, not to mention the Cleveland beating Pittsburgh in the 2020 playoffs.

Jets vs Patriots

For most of the 21st century, these two franchises have been a world apart on the field. But before then, these two shared a bitter rivalry and there are still glimpses of it that can be seen today.

Keep in mind that Bill Belichick was briefly the head coach of the Jets before resigning and going to New England. That surely makes all of the success the Patriots have had hurt the Jets and their fans even more. Plus, this is a rivalry between a New York team and a Boston-area team, which means the hatred amongst fans runs deep.

Giants vs Cowboys

The first-ever meeting between the Giants and Cowboys ended in a tie, which foreshadowed a great and hard-fought rivalry to come.

Part of the reason why Dallas stayed in the NFC East despite being a geographic misfit in the division is so that the Cowboys and Giants could continue to meet twice every year.

The two franchises have combined for more than a dozen championships and over 30 division titles, not to mention being two of the most popular and historically relevant franchises in NFL history. All of those factors and more have helped to make this one of the preeminent rivalries in NFL history.

Bears vs Packers

At over 200 all-time meetings, no two teams have played each other more than the Bears and the Packers. The history between these franchises and the legendary figures who have played or coached in this rivalry is simply unmatched.

The Bears were the dominant team during the early days while the Packers have had Chicago’s number more recently. However, the all-time series is rather close, and no matter what the circumstances, this game is always meaningful for both sides and both fanbases, which is exactly what you would expect to see in such a great rivalry.

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About Bryan Zarpentine 206 Articles
Bryan Zarpentine is a freelance writer and editor with most of his work focusing on the world of sports. He is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and still resides in upstate New York.

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