The NFL hosts some of sports greatest rivalries. When NFL handicapping something to keep in mind is even if one team is having a good year and the other is not, these games are often close. With the NFL season under way, let’s take a look at some of the better divisional rivalries and when they will happen.
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants, Week 7 & Week 10– In the NFC East, there are rivalries between all four teams. But at least in recent memory, this one seems the most prevalent. Last season, both games featured a whole lot of offense, and not a lot of defense. The Giants came out on top in both games, winning the first 33-31 and the second 31-24. But it was the Cowboys who got the last laugh by winning the division while the Giants missed the playoffs. Since 2005, the Giants have won six of the 11 meetings, including a postseason win en route to their Super Bowl championship in the 2007-08 season. Both teams like to throw the ball, especially against each other (Tony Romo threw 55 times in the second meeting), so expect two high scoring, but close games again this year.
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets, Week 3 & Week 14- Even with the Patriots atop of the division for much of the last decade, this is the AFC East’s biggest rivalry. This rivalry has great history with Dan Marino’s ‘fake spike’ and the “Monday Night Miracle”. The Jets have won six out of the last 10 contests, but the Dolphins won both games last year. Even though the Jets had the best defense in 2009, they had trouble with the Dolphins, losing 31-27 and 30-25. Both teams improved over the offseason and are looking to contend for the division crown, so expect the week 14 games to be one of season’s best. Neither of these teams have an elite offense, but they tend to score against each other so these could be safe games to bet the over the bookmakers posted total.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens, Week 4 &Week 13 – These have been two of the more consistent teams in recent memory. Pittsburgh has won six out of the past 11 meetings. The teams split last year, with Baltimore winning the first meeting 20-17 and Pittsburg winning the second 23-20. When healthy, these are two of the more balanced teams in the league. Baltimore should win the first meeting with Ben Roethlisberger out serving his suspension. The outcome of the second game could determine the division champion, so expect it to be close. These games are frequently low scoring, with neither team eclipsing 23 points in any of the past five meetings.
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings, Week 7 &Week 11- Brett Favre makes this rivalry bigger than it had ever been as the two top teams in the NFC North will duke it out for the division title for the second consecutive year. Last year, the teams split, with the away team winning both games. The Packers seem to be improved this year while the Vikings, due to age and injuries, might take a step back. The Packers are too good to lose both games, so expect either a split or a Packers sweep this year.
Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots, Week 11- Ok, so this isn’t a divisional rivalry. But they play each other almost every year and always provide one of the year’s most thrilling matches. Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning says it all. Since 2006, the Colts have won four out of the five matchups, with all five games being decided by seven points or less. These games are also shootout, with neither team scoring less than 20 points in any of those five matchups. The Patriots might be favorites in this year’s matchup since they are at home and seeing as the Colts seem to know how to beat New England, Indianapolis might be a nice underdog play here.