Pittsburgh Steelers Rivalries: Does the Team Really Matter?


Nov 28, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller (83) gets tackled by Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo (32) and linebacker Daryl Smith (51) during a NFL football game on Thanksgiving at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Before I started writing for Nice Pick, Cowher, I wrote a few articles for the Yahoo Contributor Network.  One of these articles was a mathematical realignment of the NFL’s divisions, with the goal being shorter average travel time throughout the league for divisional games.  One of the biggest arguments I received for my realignment scenario was that certain historical rivalries would be broken up such as the Steelers and Browns, and the Cowboys and the rest of the NFC East. 

This made me wonder, how much does the team that your team has as a rival really matter?  As long as the games are exciting and competitive and fun to watch, does it matter which team it is against?  The Baltimore Ravens have been the Steelers’ biggest rival the last decade or so.  They are a relatively new team (even though, they are just a rebranded version of the old Cleveland Browns).  During the few years between trips to Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLV, the New England Patriots were a rival that the Steelers played (and normally lost to, curse you Tom Brady!) almost every year.  These rivalries aren’t historic, just good competitive games with some emotion behind them.

To some in Steeler Nation, the Steelers-Browns are still the biggest rivalry out there, even though it has grown stale and uncompetitive to some of us younger fans.  The history is certainly there, though, and early on the Browns dominated the rivalry.  Now the cleat is on the other foot.  Other historic rivalries include the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders.  The Steelers have played in three Super Bowls against the Cowboys winning two of them.  The Raiders were always in the playoff hunt during the 1970s Steelers dynasty, winning a couple of Super Bowls during the Steelers down years, and were victims of the Immaculate Reception.  Since the Raiders seemingly always find a way to beat the Steelers the past few years (or the Steelers find a way to beat themselves), you could say this is still a rivalry.

In my mathematical realignment, the Steelers were put into a division with the New York Giants.  I commented on how that would be a good rivalry because of the similarities between the two teams and the relationship between the Rooneys and the Maras that goes way back to the early days of the NFL.  I am kind of surprised with the success the two teams have had over the last few decades that there hasn’t been a sort of cross-conference rivalry between them, sort of like the Steelers-Cowboys.

My point here is that it doesn’t matter which team the rival is as long as the games are competitive and entertaining.  If you put a team up against a schedule, rivals will form and it could be any team, as long as there is some emotion there and it’s fun to watch.  What do you think, Steeler Nation?  Does it matter which team the Steelers are rivals with?