DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 07: The Cameron Crazies taunt Leaky Black #1 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the second half of their game against the Duke Blue Devilsat Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 07, 2020 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 89-76. Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The best team rivalries in all of sports

Rivalries are part of what make sports great. Whenever two teams that have animosity square off, the intensity in the crowd, and on the field, court or rink is palpable, giving the games more meaning. Even sports fans who don’t root for the two teams in question get a little extra excitement when a rivalry is afoot. Here are the rivalries that are among the best in sports right now.

 
1 of 25

Cowboys vs. Eagles

Cowboys vs. Eagles
Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

All four teams in the NFC East have pretty heated rivalries. However, the one between the Cowboys and the Eagles is the best of the bunch. Philly fans are intense pretty much always, and having the self-appointed “America’s Team” in their division certainly doesn't sit well with them. Both teams have had great stretches over the decades, including some huge games with playoff implications.

 
2 of 25

Bears vs. Packers

Bears vs. Packers
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports

The Packers and the Bears are two of the oldest franchises in the NFL, and they’ve been playing against each other forever. Whether it’s at Lambeau Field or Soldier Field, seeing these two teams square off in the middle of winter, maybe with some snow on the ground, just screams football.

 
3 of 25

Steelers vs. Ravens

Steelers vs. Ravens
Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

It seems like every season the Steelers and Ravens are fighting for the AFC North crown. This rivalry is also known for having some of the most physical and intense games, which is saying something when you’re talking about football. Right now the Ravens, with Lamar Jackson under center, are looking set up to get the better of the Steelers, but Pittsburgh fans are still going to be revved up every time Baltimore is in town.

 
4 of 25

Patriots vs. Jets

Patriots vs. Jets
Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

This rivalry would be a little better if it was more even. Instead, the Patriots have pretty much dominated the Jets in recent years, thanks to the combo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Speaking of Belichick, he played a big role in this rivalry, as he resigned as head coach of the Jets to take over for the Patriots. The rest is history.

 
5 of 25

Lakers vs. Celtics

Lakers vs. Celtics
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Some rivalries stand the test of time. The Lakers and Celtics don’t even play in the same conference, but the teams were the dominant forces of the ‘60s and ‘80s, In the ‘60s the two teams played in the NBA Finals six times and added three more matchups in the ‘80s, during the days of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Some say this rivalry is what took the NBA to the next level.

 
6 of 25

Warriors vs. Rockets

Warriors vs. Rockets
Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports

This season hasn’t been a great one for this recent rivalry, given that the Warriors are going through rough times thanks mostly to injuries. Still, one year isn’t enough to end a rivalry. Since both of these teams found success behind players like James Harden and Steph Curry, they’ve been battling for the Western Conference crown year in and year out. The only thing hurting this rivalry is that Houston hasn’t been able to get over the hump yet.

 
7 of 25

Lakers vs. Clippers

Lakers vs. Clippers
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers and Clippers share not just a city but also an arena. For years the Clippers were the also-rans, but then Chris Paul and Blake Griffin helped to make this a real rivalry. Now, L.A.’s two basketball teams are arguably the best in the Western Conference, thanks to the presence of stars like LeBron and Kawhi.

 
8 of 25

Yankees vs. Red Sox

Yankees vs. Red Sox
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

When you are talking American sports rivalries, none is arguably bigger than the Yankees and the Red Sox. Not only are New York and Boston rivalry cities, but they also are two storied MLB franchises. As teams in the same division, the Yankees and Sox have played dozens of times every year for over a century at this point. Plus, let’s not forget the Babe Ruth deal and the Curse of the Bambino.

 
9 of 25

Cubs vs. Cardinals

Cubs vs. Cardinals
Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs may have gone over a decade without winning a World Series, but they were still one of the faces of baseball. In the days before interleague play, the Cubs and White Sox never got to play, but the Cubbies and the Cards have a heated rivalry that dominates the NL Central.

 
10 of 25

Dodgers vs. Giants

Dodgers vs. Giants
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers and Giants started as rivals in New York. Then they were both moved out to California to give MLB a West Coast presence. That didn’t do anything to tamp down the rivalry either. The Dodgers and Giants have also both had some great seasons recently, although San Fran has some World Series rings, while the Dodgers have fallen short a few times.

 
11 of 25

Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens

Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens
Jean-Yves Ahern/USA TODAY Sports

Hockey rules in Canada, and these are the country's two most-storied franchises. The passion of these fan bases is intense, and this rivalry has been going since these two teams were part of the Original Six. While neither has won a Stanley Cup anytime, the rivalry hasn’t lost any of its fervor.

 
12 of 25

Rangers vs. Islanders

Rangers vs. Islanders
Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

Here’s all you need to know about this rivalry. To this day, Rangers fans love to chant “Potvin sucks.” Hall of Fame Islanders defenseman Denis Potvin retired in 1988. There’s a rivalry that runs deep.

 
13 of 25

Penguins vs. Flyers

Penguins vs. Flyers
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia may be on opposite sides of Pennsylvania, but they play in the same division and have a heated rivalry as a result. The Flyers have a history of, shall we say, physical play. They were called the “Broad Street Bullies” for a reason. That certainly helped make the rivalry percolate. Some recent playoff matchups have added fuel to the fire.

 
14 of 25

Penguins vs. Capitals

Penguins vs. Capitals
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

This wasn’t really a rivalry until a couple of players showed up. The Capitals drafted Alex Ovechkin first overall, and the next year the Penguins took Sidney Crosby. They have gone on to be the two best players of their generation, and the rivalry between Crosby and Ovechkin turned into one between the Penguins and Capitals. Maybe it fades when these two retire, but it’s going strong for now.

 
15 of 25

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid
OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

European soccer rivalries often have an intensity we can’t even fathom in the United States. The competition between these two Spanish titans goes beyond sports in some ways, as it has a lot to do with regional identity and the history of the government of Spain. Barcelona’s motto is “more than a club.” That says all you need to know about how their fans feel.

 
16 of 25

Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid

Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid
David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Real Madrid is capable of having two insane rivalries, and while this one isn’t on the level of Real and Barcelona, these are two teams from Spain’s capital. They are also routinely two of the best teams in the Spanish league. Every Madrid derby tears the city apart, and the results shape its emotions for days.

 
17 of 25

Manchester City vs. Manchester United

Manchester City vs. Manchester United
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This rivalry was always intense, sure, because they are intra-city rivals but it wasn't always as heated as it is now. Man City was bought by an oil baron and suddenly became one of the richest, and then best, teams in the world. Ever since the blue side of Manchester rose to prominence, this rivalry has taken on a whole new level of intensity.

 
18 of 25

Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur
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There are several soccer teams in London, but no two have a more passionate rivalry than the the ones that meet up in the North London Derby. They’ve faced off almost 200 times over the years in a rivalry that has spanned over a century. Even moving to big stadiums hasn’t tamped down the rivalry. Also, Arsenal fans celebrate what they call St. Totteringham’s Day, the day during the season when Spurs can no longer mathematically finish ahead of Arsenal in the standings.

 
19 of 25

Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund

Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund
Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Munich and Dortmund are not traditional rivals, but success has turned them into the hottest rivalry in German soccer for years. It seems like every season for a while these two teams have been battling it out for the title in the Bundesliga. The rivalry also was taken to another level when the teams met in the Champions League final in 2013. Bayern took that one, 2-1.

 
20 of 25

Alabama vs. Auburn

Alabama vs. Auburn
John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports

Who would have thought the state of Alabama could be the home to the most intense rivalry in college football? The Iron Bowl is always one of the highlights of the college football season, even if one of these teams isn't good. However, that’s rarely the case, especially with Bama. Whether you shout “Roll Tide!” or “War Eagle!,” this rivalry has as much passion as any.

 
21 of 25

Alabama vs. LSU

Alabama vs. LSU
Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports

The Tide can manage more than one huge rivalry. Oftentimes, the games between Alabama and LSU have higher stakes, and higher bragging rights, than the Iron Bowl. Usually the winner of the game between the Tide and the Tigers ends up winning the SEC. And when you win the SEC, you are going to usually be the favorite to win the national title.

 
22 of 25

Ohio State vs. Michigan

Ohio State vs. Michigan
Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports

This used to be perhaps college football’s top rivalry, especially during the days of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler. That has changed recently. The problem? Michigan has been unable to keep up with Ohio State. The Buckeyes and Wolverines will always have a great rivalry, but it won’t regain that luster if Jim Harbaugh, or his successor, can’t get Michigan back on an even playing field with Ohio State.

 
23 of 25

Texas vs. Oklahoma

Texas vs. Oklahoma
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

Call it the Red River Shootout, or the Red River Rivalry, but it’s always one of the highlights of the college football season. The game is played in Dallas every year during the Texas State Fair, and of all the neutral-site rivalry games, this is the biggest of the bunch. The Sooners and Longhorns are college football royalty, and they duke it out for all our enjoyment every season amid the fried Twinkies and cotton candy.

 
24 of 25

Florida vs. Florida State

Florida vs. Florida State
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

They don’t play in the same conference, but every season the Gators and Seminoles play one another in their final game. In the glory days of these two teams, that could easily make this the game that decided the college football title. So much talent has suited up for these two teams over the years. Florida is a hotbed of football, and that’s always clear when the Gators and Seminoles play.

 
25 of 25

Duke vs. North Carolina

Duke vs. North Carolina
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports

When we’re talking college hoops rivalries, none can compare to the Blue Devils and Tar Heels. They are two of the best schools in the history of the sport. The fans of both teams are also incredibly intense, especially Duke’s Cameron Crazies. When Duke and North Carolina hit the court, you can feel the tension in the crowd.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.



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