With Tom Brady retiring, and Aaron Rodgers at the tail-end of his career, we are entering a new era in the NFL. Which means new rivalries. Which begs the question, which of the new rivalries will be headlining our TVs for years to come? If you asked 100 Chiefs fans who they think their biggest rival is over the next 10 years, I think at least 80 of them say the Cincinnati Bengals. The two teams have met in the last two AFC Championships, and likely will see each other quite a bit in the playoffs going forward, but does that make it the pinnacle of NFL rivalries?
Other AFC Rivalries
There are some other rivalries in the AFC to discuss. Before the rise of the Bengals, many thought that the Chiefs and Bills would be meeting every year in the AFC championship for the next decade, but Joe Burrow had other thoughts. To put it lightly, the Bills were embarrassed by the Bengals in the playoffs this year, Stefon Diggs causes offseason drama every year despite his high-level play, and the Bills have not beaten the Chiefs in the playoffs. So, I think we can check that one off the list for now.
The Jets adding Aaron Rodgers makes the AFC interesting for sure, but I don’t see any new rivalries emerging from it. There are two potential rivalries in the making in the AFC, but neither can compete with the Chiefs/Bengals currently. If Lamar Jackson can stay healthy, the Ravens may be one of the dark horse teams to make a Super Bowl run, and who do they have to face at least twice a year? The Bengals and Ravens could form a Rivalry that at least competes with the Chiefs for years to come.
The other rivalry I can see potential in is the Chiefs and the Chargers. Justin Herbert has shown the potential to be one of the leagues best QBs, but has had no playoff success in his first 3 years. The games between the two in the regular season are always tense, but the Chargers’ biggest issues are a mixture of unlucky injuries and coaching. Perhaps Kellen Moore can lead the offense in a more successful direction this season.
As far as what rivalries will have the most overall viewers/fanbase engagement, it has to be between the NFC East. Either Cowboys/Giants or Cowboys/Eagles will bring in the most views, but I don’t see any of these having more entertainment value than the AFC rivalries. The Eagles’ roster is on another level than just about any other team in the NFL. Jalen Hurts continues to develop, and that makes the Eagles dangerous as long as he stays healthy. The next best roster in the NFC is the 49ers, who still haven’t completely sorted out their QB situation, but if they do find long-term stability there, Kyle Shanahan can make some magic happen. Perhaps the Eagles/49ers could emerge as a fun rivalry to watch over the next decade, but it isn’t quite there yet.
Could The Eagles/Chiefs Become Rivals?
If you were to check the odds today, the Chiefs/Eagles are the betting favorites to make it back to the Super Bowl. Both teams had good offseasons, and look to pick up right where they left off. If the two were to meet in another Super Bowl, could that be considered the league’s best new rivalry? That is certainly a possibility, but making the Super Bowl is extremely difficult, so the chances that both teams make it back for the rematch are even more unlikely. Also, with one of each Kelce brothers playing for each team it has less of a rivalry feel than some other matchups. Chiefs’ fans would have been upset had they lost the Super Bowl, but knowing Jason Kelce got a ring would have been a small consolation for some. However, if the teams were to see each other again on the big stage, we may see some bad blood emerge.
So, there you have it. In my opinion, the rivalry to watch for the next 5 years is the Chiefs/Bengals, and I don’t think it’s particularly close. A lot can change in just a few years in the NFL, but I think the Mahomes/Burrow rivalry will only continue to grow as the two meet more in the playoffs. Who knows, perhaps we are seeing the next version of the Brady/Peyton rivalry?