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Ranking the Most Heated Rivalries in NFL History

What are the most intense rivalries in NFL history? Pro Football Network is counting down the top heated matchups in the league's record books.

Professional football is already an intense game. But NFL contests can become even more heated when a rivalry is involved.

Some rivalries grew out of on-field battles, while others are related to off-field hostility. That antagonistic energy often spilled over and created classic, unforgettable games.

What are the best rivalries in NFL history? Pro Football Network is counting down the top eight.

Top Rivalries in NFL History

8) Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Series record: Chiefs lead 73-55-2

Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and Raiders owner Al Davis were rivals during the AFL-NFL merger process, and that animosity carried over to the football field.

As one of the league’s most dominant teams of the 1970s and 1980s, the Raiders held the edge against the Chiefs for decades. However, Kansas City turned things around in the 1990s and hasn’t lost a decade to the Raiders since.

The Chiefs won nine straight games against Oakland from Oct. 2003 through Oct. 2007, the longest streak in series history. Andy Reid is 18-4 against the Raiders, while Patrick Mahomes is 10-2.

7) Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Commanders

Series record: Cowboys lead 78-48-2

Like Chiefs-Raiders, the Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Commanders rivalry was born in the 1960s.

Washington team owner George Preston Marshall tried to prevent oil magnate Clint Miurchison Jr. from encroaching on his club’s Southern territory, only agreeing after Murchison agreed to sell Marshall back the rights to the Commanders’ team song.

Washington won two Super Bowls during the 1980s and another in 1991, while Dallas secured three Lombardis in four years from 1992 to 1995. Combined, the two teams have won eight Super Bowl titles and 32 division crowns.

6) New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Series record: Eagles lead 93-88-2

From one NFC East rivalry to another.

The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles have played each other twice per season every year since 1933. With passionate East Coast fanbases on both sides of the matchup, games between the Giants and Eagles can get intense.

1978’s “Miracle at the Meadowlands” saw Philadelphia pull out a come-from-nowhere win when defensive back Herm Edwards recovered a fumble for a game-winning score as time expired. Thirty-two years later, the Eagles shocked the Giants again when DeSean Jackson posted the first walk-off punt return in NFL history in the “Miracle at the New Meadowlands.”

5) Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers

Series record: Chiefs lead 20-19-1

The Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers don’t play in the same division, so they don’t have the breadth of history that other rivalries might offer.

But Dallas and San Francisco have faced off in many meaningful games. The Cowboys beat the 49ers in the playoffs in three consecutive years from 1970 through 1972. In the 1981 NFC Championship Game, Joe Montana’s game-winning pass to Dwight Clark became known simply as “The Catch.”

Dallas and San Fran played in the NFC title game every season from 1992 to 1993, with the winner securing the Lombardi trophy each year. However, the rivalry has lost steam recently; from 1998 to 2020, the Cowboys and 49ers never made the playoffs in the same season.

San Francisco has won the last three matchups against Dallas, including postseason victories after the 2021 and 2022 campaigns.

4) New England Patriots vs. New York Jets

Series record: Patriots lead 74-55-1

The New England Patriots and New York Jets have been rivals since the 1960s, but their mutual hatred took a turn for the worse in the 1990s.

Bill Parcells left the Pats for the Jets in 1997. After the 1999 season, he resigned and hoped to promote DC Bill Belichick to head coach, but Belichick declined the position and eventually departed for New England. The Patriots gave up a first-round pick for Belichick in arguably the most significant trade in NFL history.

As New England’s head coach, Belichick went 38-13 against the Jets, turning this rivalry into a one-sided affair. However, the anger from both sides is enough to put Pats vs. Jets at No. 4.

3) Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Series record: Cowboys lead 74-56

There’s plenty of rancor in the NFC East. This is the third all-NFC East rivalry on our list and the third rivalry featuring the Cowboys.

Philadelphia had no shot against Dallas for most of its early history, posting a 2-21 record against the Cowboys from 1967 through 1978. Dallas won two Super Bowls during that time, then earned three more in the early 1990s after the Eagles had posted some success against the Cowboys in the late 1980s, at one point winning eight straight games.

The series has been more even in recent seasons. Over the past four years, the Cowboys have held a 5-3 series lead, winning two division titles to the Eagles’ one.

2) Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Series record: Steelers lead 35-25

The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have the youngest rivalry on our list. Because the Ravens weren’t formed until 1996, the two clubs have only faced every 60 times.

But that hasn’t prevented Baltimore and Pittsburgh from forming one of the most intense rivalries in the league. Both AFC North teams are known for their tough, physical styles of play, which often revolve around strong rushing attacks and attacking defenses.

The Steelers hold a 3-1 advantage against the Ravens in playoff games and have also dominated the series as of late. Pittsburgh has won seven of its eight games against Baltimore since the 2020 campaign, but every game was decided by one score or less.

1) Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers

Series record: Packers lead 107-95-6

The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers are two of the NFL’s oldest teams and have faced each other more times — 208 — than any other two clubs in league history. Those matchups have created a lengthy archive full of generational players and coaches like Walter Payton, Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, Brett Favre, Ray Nitschke, Aaron Rodgers, Vince Lombardi, George Halas, Curly Lambeau, and Mike Ditka.

While the Packers dominated in the 1960s, the Bears have owned the advantage for most of this series. At various points, Chicago held a 24-game edge in the overall rivalry record.

However, Green Bay has been authoritative in the series since acquiring Favre before the 1992 season. The Packers have gone 50-15 against the Bears since, including a 2010 NFC Championship Game win.