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NFL Rules All Sports With Best Rivalries

Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys gets a hug from Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys after a fourth quarter touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the Wild Card Round at AT&T Stadium on January 05, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – After much debate, KSL Unrivaled decided the NFL rules the sports world when it comes to the best rivalries.

  • Cowboys vs. Eagles
  • Packers vs. Bears
  • Giants vs. Cowboys
  • Redskins vs. Giants
  • Dolphins vs. Bills
  • Redskins vs. Cowboys
  • Bill vs. Jets

See a theme forming?

All of those are NFL Divisional rivalries. There are plenty of amazing sports rivalries – like Yankees/Red Sox in Major League Baseball – which might be the best in all of sports. There’s the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants on the West Coast which is as intense as they come but there are only a few rivals in MLB that resonate on a national level.

Forget about the NBA for team rivalries as players change teams so often, it has been hard to form rivals over the past decade-plus. There used to be the Celtics/Lakers, Bulls/Pistons or Pacers/Knicks – which was really Reggie Miller and Spike Lee in the crowd.

When looking at the best division rivalries in all of American sports one has to focus in on the NFL to find division foes that all hate each other equally. There is a reason when NFL added the Houston Texans and shuffled divisions around so that the Dallas Cowboys, despite being in the Central timezone, stayed in the NFC East to play the Eagles, Giants, and Redskins twice a year.

The league could have easily put the Carolina Panthers in the NFC East but they did not because of the rivalries. KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell is keenly aware of how big these rivalries are in the NFL. Having played in the AFC East as a member of the Miami Dolphins and also within the NFC Central (now the NFC North) as the quarterback of the Detroit Lions he knows what is at stake.

JFK Helped Keep Cowboys In NFC East?

KSL Sports’ Alex Kirry and Mitchell agree that the most heated division resides in the NFC East. The Giants, Redskins, Cowboys, and Eagles were not all that great this past year and since 2000 has just three Super Bowl wins and four appearances. Despite that, the division is still a must watch as the hatred between fans and players is cutthroat.

Mitchell has one wild theory from his agent as to why the Cowboys are in the East and it is not about the history between these teams but it has to do with former president John F. Kennedy.

“They are in the East because it has to do with JFK. There was a lot of backlash with Texas, Dallas, and the assassination of JFK, this is according to my agent,” Mitchell said. “He also believes this as to why Dallas is America’s team. There was this effort to try to rehabilitate the image of Dallas after the assassination of JFK.”

Getting back to the serious side of this can really be traced to the 1990s when the Dallas Cowboys won three Super Bowls in four years and were in contention the entire decade

“The Cowboys are “America’s Team” and that is why everyone hates the Cowboys. The Eagles fans are like, ‘we are blue-collar and we work hard,’ ” Mitchell said. “Why I say it is the greatest is because these teams are terrible right now, every single one of them.

“The only team that is halfway decent is the Eagles and they just tripped all over themselves this past year,” Mitchell added. “It doesn’t matter if they are good or bad, those rivalries matter and people show up for those games and that is the amazing thing to me.”

AFC East Is Underrated

Before the New England Patriots became what they are today by going to nine Super Bowls and winning six of those. Having one overly dominant team in a division makes it tough to consider the whole as a group that deeply dislikes each other.

Buffalo has Bills Mafia for its fanbase, the Jets really hate the Patriots in part due to the winning but Bill Belichick who was on the Jets staff for three years but resigned one day after being named the head coach of the Jets to take the New England job. Just this year, the Dolphins upset the Patriots in Week 17. Plus the late 1980s and 1990s the Dolphins hated the Jets and Dolphins.

“We could not stand the Buffalo Bills,” Mitchell said when he played them as a member of the Dolphins. “When we played Buffalo we would drive into the stadium in the buses and every single was giving us the one-finger salute, and I thought that is how they were.

“Then I went to Detroit and told everyone that the fans line the street and are crazy, it is Buffalo. We drive in from Detroit and no one gets up and don’t care. There was a genuine hatred between the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills.”

The only problem with the AFC East today is that the Dolphins, Bills, and Jets have been so bad during the Patriots dynasty. Perhaps with the Bills making the playoffs and the Jets having Sam Darnold at quarterback this division will get back to being more competitive and the hate will flow through again.

Anything Besides The NFL?

One great division in college football that could make the case is the SEC West with the Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama or LSU vs. Alabama, and the new and improved Egg Bowl between Mississippi State and Ole will feature Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach would could lead to some spiciness.

Despite college football being as big as it is, the rivalries are mostly regional when it comes to teams vs. teams or even an entire conference like the SEC. The SEC is still huge overall but most of the nation are not as invested.

The NBA is the worst and the Utah Jazz have no real rivalry in the league. It probably should be the Denver Nuggets or Portland Trail Blazers and not having divisions mean anything makes it tough to build up a rivalry. Perhaps the Houston Rockets after facing them in back-to-back playoff appearances. Jazz fans think it is the Lakers but the purple and gold fans do not care about the Jazz and do not consider them a rival at any level.

Just chalk it up to another category where NFL is king.


Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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