The 20 Baddest Rivalries in Pro Sports

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The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees haven’t faced each other in the playoffs for 14 years, yet their rivalry is just as hot as it was back in the early 2000s as they begin their MLB Playoff series this evening. It is one of the biggest rivalry in sports, but is it the biggest and baddest?

In every major professional sport, there are always going to be games that we circle on our sports calendars each season they are more important than rooting for your own team. They are games that we move things around to make sure we watch live because it is going to be a battle from the opening moments right down to the final seconds.

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It is the legendary rivalries that all sports fans love to watch, regardless of who your favorite teams are because you know that a series at Fenway between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees is going to be a war. You do not even have to care much about the teams playing but you are still going to watch it. That is the same reason why they put those games on primetime each week too.

Some of these rivalries date back to 1890 when the Brooklyn Dodgers faced off against the New York Giants. 128 years and thousands of games later, the Dodgers and Giants continue to battle it out in the NL West division.

So what makes for a good rivalry? What elements should we consider when trying to figure out which teams form the baddest of all rivalries?

There is no formula that undoubtedly answers those questions but there are certain aspects of a rivalry that we can all agree are useful when making these type of decisions and one of them involves how many wins and losses the two teams have against one another. A rivalry is a fight for victory between two teams that truly hate one another and how can it be a rivalry if one team has a significantly high win total than the other.

Enough talk, it is time to get down to the numbers and unveil our list of the 20 baddest rivalries in pro sports history. Enjoy.

20) Cincinnati Bengals – Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Year Started: 1970
  • League: NFL
  • Games: 97
  • Series Record: 62-35 (Steelers)
  • Points Scored
    • Bengals: 1,673
    • Steelers: 2,100
  • Playoffs: 2-0 (Steelers)

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19) L.A. Lakers – San Antonio Spurs

  • Year Started: 1976
  • League: NBA
  • Games: 223
  • Series Record: 115-108 (Lakers)
  • Points Scored
    • Lakers: 17,282
    • Spurs: 17,462
  • Playoffs: 56 Games, 34-22 (Lakers)

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18) Colorado Avalanche – Detroit Red Wings

  • Year Started: 1979
  • League: NHL
  • Games: 157
  • Series Record: 83-69-5 (Red Wings)
  • Goals Scored
    • Avalanche: 371
    • Red Wings: 413
  • Playoffs: 34 Games (17-17)

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17) Philadelphia 76ers – Boston Celtics

  • Year Started: 1949
  • League: NBA
  • Games: 544
  • Series Record: 312-232 (Celtics)
  • Points Scored
    • 76ers: 46,251
    • Celtics: 47,262
  • Playoffs: 103 Games, 58-45 (Celtics)

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16) Philadelphia Phillies – New York Mets

  • Year Started: 1962
  • League: MLB
  • Games: 951
  • Series Record: 493-458 (Phillies)
  • Runs Scored
    • Phillies: 4,121
    • Mets: 4,085

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15) Detroit Pistons – Chicago Bulls

  • Year Started: 1966
  • League: NBA
  • Games: 292
  • Series Record: 147-145 (Pistons)
  • Points Scored
    • Pistons: 26,562
    • Bulls: 26,515
  • Playoffs: 35 Games, 19-16 (Pistons)

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14) Baltimore Ravens – Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Year Started: 1996
  • League: NFL
  • Games: 48
  • Series Record: 27-21 (Steelers)
  • Points Scored
    • Ravens: 861
    • Steelers: 894
  • Playoffs: 4 Games, 3-1 (Steelers)

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13) Chicago Cubs – Chicago White Sox

  • Year Started: 1997
  • League: MLB
  • Games: 115
  • Series Record: 59-56 (White Sox)
  • Runs Scored
    • Cubs: 521
    • White Sox: 506
  • Playoffs: 6 Games, 4-2 (White Sox)
  • World Series: 1906, White Sox Won

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12) Oakland Raiders – Denver Broncos

  • Year Started: 1960
  • League: NFL
  • Games: 117
  • Series Record: 63-52-2 (Raiders)
  • Points Scored
    • Raiders: 2,443
    • Broncos: 2,360
  • Playoffs: 2 Games, 1-1
  • This is one of those rivalries that may not be all that popular with NFL fans that don’t live in Colorado or California. But if you happen to watch a single game between these two teams, you will have a better understanding of why it is on this list. If you still aren’t sure, then check this out. Of the 117 games between these two teams, 51 of ended with a scoring margin of 7 or less (31 of the games were less than 3 points).

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11) Chicago Blackhawks – DET Red Wings

  • Year Started: 1926
  • League: NHL
  • Games: 816
  • Series Record: 406-312-84-14 (Red Wings)
  • Goals Scored
    • Blackhawks: 2,025
    • Red Wings: 2,282
  • Playoffs: 81 Games, 43-38 (Blackhawks)
  • Stanley Cup Finals: 2 Times, Chicago Won Both Series
  • When it comes to regular season matchups, no other two teams in the NHL have squared off against one another more than these two teams.

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10) Dallas Cowboys – San Francisco 49ers

  • Year Started: 1960
  • League: NFL
  • Games: 36
  • Series Record: 18-17-1 (49ers)
  • Points Scored
    • Cowboys: 681
    • 49ers: 751
  • Playoffs: 7 Games, 5-2 (Cowboys)
  • If the NFL was looking for someone to thank for their success in the 90’s, it should be the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. These two teams won six Super Bowls in eight years combined. They also met in three consecutive NFC Championship games with the winner of each going on to win the Super Bowl.

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9) Chicago Cubs – St.Louis Cardinals

  • Year Started: 1892
  • League: MLB
  • Games: 2,401
  • Series Record: 1,221-1,161-19 (Cubs)
  • Runs Scored
    • Cubs: 10,504
    • Cardinals: 10,517
  • Playoffs: 4 Games, 3-1 (Cubs)
  • Because of their locations, the rivalry between the Cubs and Cardinals has become known as the Route 66 rivalry. The Cubs winning record over the Cardinals is a rarity in baseball. Only two other teams can make that claim (Pirates and Giants).

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8) New York Knicks – Miami Heat

  • Year Started: 1989
  • League: NBA
  • Games: 142
  • Series Record: 75-64 (Knicks)
  • Points Scored
    • Knicks: 11,431
    • Heat: 11,262
  • Playoffs: 29 Games, 15-14 (Heat)
  • From 1997 to 2000, the Knicks and Heat met up in the Eastern Conference playoffs four consecutive times, going to the final game in the series each time, something that rarely, if ever happens in the NBA. During those years, these teams fought hard, and even fought each other, to get the win.

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7) Montreal Canadiens – TOR Maple Leafs

  • Year Started: 1917
  • League: NHL
  • Games: 810
  • Series Record: 397-316-88-9 (Canadiens)
  • Goals Scored
    • Canadiens: 2,259
    • Maple Leafs: 2,051
  • Playoffs: 71 Games, 42-29 (Canadiens)
  • No two teams in NHL history have given us a better history of playoff games than the Canadiens and Maple Leafs. These two rivals seemed to always find their ways back to one another when it would come to the postseason.

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6) L.A. Dodgers – San Francisco Giants

  • Year Started: 1890
  • League: MLB
  • Games: 2,472
  • Series Record: 1,243-1,212-17 (Giants)
  • Runs Scored
    • Dodgers: 10,574
    • Giants: 10,638
  • In 1951, the Dodgers were up 13.5 games in the race for the pennant on August 11th. The Giants never gave up and fought their way into a season ending tie for the pennant thanks to a rookie named Willie Mays. During that three-game series, it game down to the third game and a home run hit in the 9th inning which has become known as the Shot Heard ‘Round the World.

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5) Dallas Cowboys – Washington Redskins

  • Year Started: 1960
  • League: NFL
  • Games: 116
  • Series Record: 70-44-2 (Cowboys)
  • Points Scored
    • Cowboys: 2,661
    • Redskins: 2,195
  • Playoffs: 2 Games, 2-0 (Redskins)
  • Although politically incorrect, the Cowboys and Redskins rivalry was the NFL’s version of the Cowboys and Indians battle that happened during the Wild West. Add to it the 8 Super Bowl titles and countless classic games, and you have yourself a legendary NFL rivalry.

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4) Chicago Bears – Green Bay Packers

  • Year Started: 1921
  • League: NFL
  • Games: 194
  • Series Record: 96-94-6 (Packers)
  • Points Scored
    • Bears: 3,314
    • Packers: 3,358
  • Playoffs: 2 Games, 1-1
  • When the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers are both playing great football, this rivalry is at its’ peak. Since 2010, the Packers have dominated the rivalry, winning 14 of their 17 games. The Packs recent success has actually put them ahead of Chicago in the series standings.

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3) Montreal Canadiens – Boston Bruins

  • Year Started: 1924
  • League: NHL
  • Games: 919
  • Series Record: 466-340-103-10(Canadiens)
  • Goals Scored
    • Canadiens: 2,239
    • Bruins: 1,958
  • Playoffs: 177 Games, 106-71 (Canadiens)
  • As far as the NHL goes, there has never been a more brutal, bloody, and better rivalry than the one between the Canadiens and Bruins. These two teams have battled for over 100 years and have even played in 177 playoff games, the most by any two teams on this list. Before they joined conferences, they battled each other seven different times in the Stanley Cup Finals, with the Bruins losing all seven of them.

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2) New York Yankees – Boston Red Sox

  • Year Started: 1903
  • League: MLB
  • Games: 2,218
  • Series Record: 1,197-1,007-14 (Yankees)
  • Runs Scored
    • Yankees: 10,453
    • Red Sox: 9,515
  • Playoffs: 19 Games, 11-8 (Yankees)
  • The Red Sox and Yankees have one of the most popular rivalries in pro sports that began the moment the Red Sox traded away Babe Ruth, which began the legendary “Curse of the Bambino,” that lasted 86 years. Their hatred towards one another has carried over into the fan base and has built this into one of the greatest rivalries ever.

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1) L.A. Lakers – Boston Celtics

  • Year Started: 1948
  • League: NBA
  • Games: 361
  • Series Record: 201-160 (Celtics)
  • Points Scored
    • Lakers: 29,981
    • Celtics: 30,569
  • Playoffs: 62 Games, 43-19 (Celtics)
  • NBA Finals: 12 Meetings (9 Wins, Celtics)
  • Greatest Years: 1960’s
  • It was not until 1985 that the Lakers finally beat the Celtics in the NBA Finals but the two teams still earn the top spot on our list. Aside from all of the instant classic games between them, this rivalry gave us Magic vs. Bird and Bill Russell vs. Elgin Baylor and Rick Barry.

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