Six best NFL rivalries of 2013
By Marc Sessler
From where I stand, that hasn't been the case in a long, long time.
When a blood feud becomes this one-sided, there's little for fans to latch onto. Both sides must feel the heat. That's why Browns-Steelers -- and a few other historically classic showdowns -- don't make my list of the top rivalries for 2013.
Here are the six that do:
6. Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears
This would rank higher, but it's hard to take the Bears seriously until they knock the Packers off their high horse. A general, psychic mistrust of Chicago's franchise stems from its inability to go toe-to-toe with Green Bay. This sneaks in at No. 6 because new coach Marc Trestman brings hope for a Bears offense that, for years, has been a coma-inducing affair.
5. New Orleans Saints-Atlanta Falcons
I don't know why this matchup doesn't get more love. Falcons-Saints prime-time tilts have become a late-season staple, but New Orleans must rebound this season under Sean Payton to stay relevant. We expect that to happen.
4. New England Patriots-New York Jets
I'm giving this one more year. As long as Rex Ryan roams Florham Park -- wringing his hands over the mere existence of Bill Belichick -- this remains must-see TV. Granted, Gang Green is a messy disaster, but this showdown remains sexy because of Bill's history with both teams; because of Tom Brady's acknowledged hatred of the Jets; and because even when New York struggles, it knows enough to float "butt fumble" into the public lexicon.
3. Baltimore Ravens-Steelers
2t. Denver Broncos-Patriots/Ravens-Patriots/Ravens-Broncos
I don't relish ties, but this three-way timebomb arguably could chew up half the list. Whoever emerges on top should win the AFC.
1. Seattle Seahawks-San Francisco 49ers
In quick order, this has become a classic. There's a collective sense these two will decide the NFC. Last year's meetings were doozies: A rugged 13-6 win by the 49ers in Week 7, answered by the Seahawks' 42-13 hammer-drop in Week 16. I'll never forget that night. Stationed in a Los Angeles sports bar, I watched as a perspiring, cherry-red-sweater-vest-wearing 49ers fan screamed at the top of his lungs at Russell Wilson: "Make it stop! MAKE. IT. STOP."
Honorable mention: New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys (despite "Sunday Night Football"'s tireless efforts to make this a Huge Deal, an undeniable level of mediocrity from the Cowboys keeps this off my list); Giants-49ers (in my top three a year ago); St. Louis Rams-49ers (St. Louis had San Fran's number last season); Packers-Minnesota Vikings (plenty of potential here); Houston Texans-Indianapolis Colts (I can live with or without it); Washington Redskins-NFC East (a healthy Robert Griffin III makes the Redskins fun again).
Interesting to see that it's not just Pats and Jets fans who still feel this way, even despite the last two seasons. If nothing else, there's just so much crap constantly going on with this rivalry, it certainly always makes for some interesting (even if painful for Jets fans) TV. You know that and... buttfumble.