The website KnowRivalry.com recently published a study of 1,649 NFL fans revealing the biggest rivals of each of the league’s 32 teams. The study also highlighted the 10 biggest rivalries.
The Western Carolina University research measured a number of variables, but it centered around the level of animosity a fan base feels toward its rival, and the animosity a fan base receives from around the league. The responses were gathered in 2015 and 2016.
The study gave each fan 100 points to allocate however he or she chose, ranking a team’s biggest rivals. The aggregate score combined the points applied, on average, from one fan base to another, and vice versa.
Here are the results with aggregate scores listed:
The 10 biggest rivalries in the NFL
- Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints (138.94)
- Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens (124.48)
- Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears (124.15)
- New England Patriots vs. New York Jets (107.28)
- Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles (100.24)
- Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings (81.78)
- Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (81.14)
- San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks (79.22)
- Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders (78.70)
- Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots (77.08)
It’s worth noting that this study doesn’t measure things such as historical significance, national interest or the wide-scale impact of the teams involved. It’s a measure of how badly the members of two respective fan bases dislike one another.
It should be pointed out that if two teams view each other as their sole primary rival — as with the Falcons and Saints — they’re going to rank high on this list. In the NFC South, the Carolina Panthers didn’t exist until 1995 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined the division upon realignment in 2002, so those two fan bases are understandably focused on one another.
On the other hand, the New England Patriots have dominated their division for so long that their focus is going to be split among their AFC East foes and other AFC contenders they face in the postseason. Bills fans might allocate a large percentage of their points to the Patriots, but Patriots fans are going to be less inclined to care as much about the Bills.
Regardless, it’s an interesting study and you can look at the detailed data for all 32 teams here. WCU also conducted the study for other pro sports as well as NCAA football.