It’s no secret that the Baltimore Ravens have great rivalries with teams across the AFC. I think the list can be narrowed down to three teams with a few, shall we say, honorable mentions. Let’s get into it.
Honorable mentions: Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns
Even though I do believe that Baltimore-Cleveland will blossom into a great rivalry, the Browns are still a team that hasn’t had a winning season in 17 years. There’s just too much losing history in Cleveland to measure up to the current rivalries in Ravens history. Until the Browns show otherwise, they are relegated to the kids’ table while everyone else is at the adult table. At least everyone is besides the red headed stepchild of the AFC North.
Oh Cincinnati. I almost didn’t put you guys on this list, but here we are. The only reason the Bengals make it at all is because the Ravens play them twice a year, and they somehow beat Baltimore at least once a year. Perhaps after finally firing Marvin Lewis you guys will actually be a threat in the division, but until that day, you are sentenced to the kids table with the Browns.
To the rivals…
3. Indianapolis Colts
This is not going to be a rant on the Irsay family (even though it probably should be). I would love to tear the current owner of the Colts apart, but as I was not alive at the time of the Irsays screwing over the city of Baltimore, I feel that rant is better left to people other than myself.
This rivalry would probably land at number two on this list was it not for the lack of success the Colts have had in recent years. Even though I love the guy, Andrew Luck just doesn’t own the real estate that Peyton Manning did in the minds of the Ravens or their fans. The last time the Ravens played the Colts, Luck didn’t even play, and the Colts as a whole were, shall we say, decimated by injuries.
It’s sad that this rivalry isn’t what it used to be, but with the Colts back in playoff contention, a playoff game or two against them could fix that.
The Colts mainly occupy this spot because of how successful they were during the Manning era, but Luck still has a chance to leave his mark on this rivalry. However, one playoff loss against Baltimore since Manning left for Denver simply isn’t enough to be placed above the other two teams on this list.
With the Colts actually drafting properly and putting proper talent around Luck, perhaps we will see them in a playoff game in Baltimore, or perhaps they will see us in Indianapolis. Either way, I do believe the Colts will prove to be a worthy adversary once again
Why then do they get put on the list ahead of Cleveland? Simple. The Colts have had a winning season, you know, recently.
2. New England Patriots
A quote from the movie Anchorman defines how I feel about the New England Patriots.
“I pure straight hate you, but god dammit do I respect you.”
Unlike the Colts, the Patriots have a recent history with the Baltimore Ravens, and have had much – perhaps too much – success over the years. The Ravens have played the Patriots 13 times since moving to Baltimore and currently have a 3-10 record against them. While that seems one-sided, six of the last seven meetings between these teams have been decided by one score or less.
With the two teams set to meet for the first time since 2016, this rivalry could pick up right where it left off. Lamar Jackson will face Tom Brady for the first time and the experience could do wonders for Lamar’s development as a QB and a budding star.
Especially with Suggs gone, there’s not a lot of hatred in this rivalry. I mean sure, the fan bases hate each other, but I feel that there is a deep mutual respect between the two teams. In my opinion, John Harbaugh is one of the few football minds that can match Bill Belichick’s and seeing the two of them coach against each other is something that I’ve missed in the last few years.
The Patriots have been the undisputed best team in the NFL for the past two decades and have made sport out of teams that challenge them in Massachusetts. Aside from Manning’s Broncos, look at the teams that have appeared in New England in the playoffs the last few years while the Ravens were not in the playoffs. In 2017 the Steelers went to Foxborough to lose 36-17. In 2018 the Jaguars didn’t use their QB properly and lost to the Pats 24-20. Just this year, the Patriots played the Chargers in the divisional game in Foxborough. The Pats won 41-28. The Ravens have been the only team to consistently play up to the Patriots in Foxborough in January. That is why this rivalry is so good.
As all AFC teams know, if you want to advance in the postseason, you have to go through Foxborough. The difference between the Ravens and everyone else? They’ve done just that – not once, but twice (and almost three…er, four…times).
While I do enjoy this rivalry, it pales in comparison to what I consider to be the best rivalry in football.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
Like this wasn’t an obvious choice. Remember what I said about the Ravens and Patriots respecting each other? Throw that out the window because the Ravens and Steelers just plain hate each other.
Whenever I get the regular season schedule for the Ravens for the new season, I have the same problem: I never have any clue what’s going to happen in the two games that they play the Steelers. Anything can happen in a Baltimore-Pittsburgh football game, and that’s what makes this rivalry so great. The game could be an offensive shootout, or a defensive slugfest. It doesn’t seem to matter who is playing for either side when the black and purple goes up against the black and gold.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a meaningless game played between these two teams since Joe Flacco was drafted. That’s what a rivalry is supposed to be.
The two fanbases hate each other, the players hate each other, and the coaches hate each other. Both teams were known for their hard-hitting defenses for years and the second meeting between the Ravens and Steelers seemingly always had playoff implications in the balance.
Two guaranteed meetings against the Steelers in a single regular season will be what put this rivalry ahead of Baltimore vs. New England.
The lack of meeting against the Patriots has made Ravens fans forget how insufferable Patriots fans are. On the other hand, we are reminded of how arrogant yinzers (and our local wannabe-yinzers) are at least twice a year.
If Cleveland doesn’t play up to their potential this season, it will no doubt be Baltimore and Pittsburgh going at it for the AFC North crown.
Which rivalry did I miss? Which is your favorite? Tell me below.