“Have You Heard About THAT Team?” Rivalries in the NFC North

Hey y’all!! Here is a sport post to get you through the morning before Pep Talk Tuesday!! As usual it is about football… and of course features the Bears.. surprise, surprise I know! But I thought it was a good post that I blogged on the DU Sports Psych Blog so I wanted to share it with you guys!!!

First I wanted to start with a review of the divisions and rivalries in the NFL!

Intra-divisional: Games between opponents in the same NFL division. Since 2002, there are 32 teams in 8 divisions of 4 teams each. Each team plays each division opponent twice during the regular season (once at home, once away) for a total of 6 regular season games out of 16 total games. Thus, every NFL team, regardless of its age, could fairly be said to have at least 3 primary rivals. Occasionally, two teams will play 3 times in a year if they meet again in the playoffs.

Inter-divisional: Games between opponents in different divisions but within the same conference. Teams do not play a given inter-divisional opponent more than once during the regular season, however they may meet again for a second time in the playoffs. The NFL schedules divisions to play against each other on a rotating basis, so that every team from one division will play every team from another division, for a total of 4 games per team. Each team will also play 1 team from each of the remaining 2 divisions within the conference that finished in the same divisional standing position in the prior year – for a grand total of 12 intra-conference games. Conference games are often important, as a team’s record in common games, as well as its overall record against its conference, is sometimes used as a tiebreaker for playoff seeding at the end of the regular season. Also, many regular season opponents have met again in the playoffs, and the result of a regular season game can affect where the playoff game will be played

Inter-conference: Games between opponents in different conferences. Teams do not play a given inter-conference opponent more than once during the season unless they were to meet up in the Superbowl. The NFL schedules inter-conference divisions to play each other on a rotating basis similar to the one described above.

Now to the important rivalries… those in the NFC North

Rivalries in the NFL date back to the 1920s, starting of course with my boys the Chicago Bears and the now Arizona Cardinals. The oldest running rivalry is also carried by the Bears and the Packers, a rivalry which is still fierce today.With 182 regular season and post season games, Chicago currently leads the all-time series, 92–84–6. This rivalry has been dubbed a respectful rivalry between the players, where they can chat before and after the game to rib each other in a friendly, joking way. Cutler and Rodgers, very different QB’s to be sure have a friendly report as they exchange text messages, and Cutler helped Jordan Rodgers (Aaron’s younger brother) in his transition at Vanderbilt, Cutler’s alma mater.This is a much different rivalry then say the Steelers-Ravens.
The Vikings and the Lions also make up the NFC North, and the Vikings have fierce rivalries with both the Bears and the Packers that go back to when the Vikings joined the NFC North in1961 as an expansion team. In the first Vikings-Bears game, the Vikings stunned the Bears 37-13. This is a home-team wins kind of rivalry, and fans can expect thriller games with huge swings. In one example, the Bears were able to erase a 13 point Viking lead in less than 2 minutes. It is never a boring game when these two get together. The Vikings and Packers have been known to be one of the most intense rivalries in the NFL as a whole. These teams are often in contention for the conference title, and the games are often very close. As with the rest of the NFC North, the proximity of all of these teams cause them to be rivals in other sports as well.
Recently, the Lions  have  become a player in the NFC north after years of being overlooked by the bigger rivalries between The Vikings, Packers, and the Bears. It is interesting because the Lions have a reputation of being a team of “thugs” perhaps because Detroit itself is the most dangerous city in America. Fans of Bears, Packers, Vikings and non NFC North Teams see players like Ndamukong Suh who has had controversy over a dirty player because of illegal hits and had to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this season, and dub them a team of thugs. On the flip side, Suh is an ambassador for Detroit, as well as an incredible player who has received a number of awards both in his college and professional career and has become an inspiration in the city. It is interesting then how players and teams can be seen by their rivals. In fact, the Lions have had an incredible season and have really picked themselves up after years of being behind and the 08 season where they went without a win. I may not like them.. but I have to respect what they done as a team to rebuild and become better than ever.
Rivalry games also ignite teams. No one wants to lose to their big rivals, and in the upcoming weeks we will see more NFC North showdowns where the teams clash for the second time this season. The Packers and the Vikings and the Bears and Lions will face off Sunday to see if the Bears and Vikings can get vengeance for their losses earlier this season.
An interesting thing in these rivalries is that often the fans are worse than the players. Fans of these teams are extremely loyal and extremely dislike the other NFC North teams simply due to the historic rivalries that exist. In last night’s game, a friend of mine who is a Lions fan went as far to tweet encouragement to the Eagles… which is a travesty! Although as a Bears fan I would probably do the same thing. I did cry when the Packers beat the Bears in the NFC Championship last season… and am quite feisty when watching games…. seriously its actually little embarrassing how much I get into it… Which is why I need more friends who are Bears fans!
Hope you guys find this interesting and I hope I didn’t offend anyone!! Football is such a big part of my life right now I wanted to share this part with you guys… which I do often anyways buttttt whatever!
Stop in later for a GREAT Pep Talk Tuesday!!
What is your favorite NFL rivalry?
xxoo
Peace, Love, and be Sperry!
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