What are sports without rivalries? As a fan there has to be that one team that you look forward to your favorite team defeating every year. For Green Bay Packers fans over the years, there are several teams you have to consider being a rival. Whether it’s a decades-long rivalry within the division, or just an inter-conference rival that we always seem to meet in the playoffs the last few years, the Packers have had their fair share of them. To find the Packers biggest rival, let us count down the top 5.
Can I be honest? I’m not actually sure why I added the Detroit Lions. The Lions just haven’t really given any remote reason for the Packers to fear them in almost 30 years. Even then, the Packers defeated them in the playoffs twice. Since September 1992, the Packers have a 42-18 record over the Lions. Normally when it comes to rivalries for me, I can’t stand the star players that have played for those teams no matter what. I might respect them, but never like them. But with the Lions, Barry Sanders is easily a top 3 favorite non-Packers player that I’ve watched over the years. I don’t even cringe that he was a Lion. The Lions are like a mosquito buzzing in the Packers ear. Sure, they’re annoying and might give us an irritating bite, but in the end, we can just squash them and shut them up
This one is a bit more recent. The 49ers have eliminated the Packers from the playoffs 4/4 times in the last 10 years. That’s enough to make any Packer fan boil at the mention of them. Obviously most recently, the 49ers removed us from the 2022 playoffs in what should’ve been a victory barring Special Teams horrors. Even though the Packers have had great success vs San Francisco in the regular season (13-3 the last 30 years) they always seem to have our number lately in the playoffs. Maybe it’s a curse ever since JERRY RICE FUMBLED IT in the 1999 playoffs and officials decided that it was opposite day, and he did not. Either way, a victory vs the 49ers seems to always be sweet in the taste buds of Packer fans as of late.
Some might say this one has roots dating all the way back to the Ice Bowl. While this might be true, I think those roots dug themselves way deeper into the ground in the 1990s. From 1991 until 1997, the Packers had an 0-5 record vs the Cowboys in the regular season, and an 0-3 record against them in the playoffs. The Cowboys were heralded as “America’s Team” and the media bias towards them during that time was second to none. Packer fans hated the Cowboys. And it was as if Dallas never had to visit Green Bay, the Packers always had to go to Dallas. Packer fans begged for Dallas to finally have to visit Lambeau Field. It wasn’t till 1997 that the Cowboys visited Green Bay, when the Packers dismantled the Cowboys in the regular season 45-17, and they finally got some revenge. Since then, the Packers have a 7-4 regular season record vs the Cowboys and a 2-0 playoff record. Regardless of success though, Packer fans always love a victory vs the falsely proclaimed, “America’s Team.”
That’s right, you saw a “1b” instead of a “2”. This is because the statement on the Packers biggest rival really depends on who you ask. Fans of the last 30 years might say the Vikings. We have a 55% win percentage over them the last few years, so it’s been fairly split. But the biggest kicker has to do with former Packers players, and Vikings fans. Let’s just start it off with the obvious. The Minnesota Vikings appear to be infatuated with former Packers. Ryan Longwell, Greg Jennings, Desmond Bishop, recently Za’Darius Smith and Chandon Sullivan, and of course, the mother of them all, Brett Favre. August 18th, 2009, I recall going from Brett Favre being my childhood sports hero, to hoping the Packers end his career and leave him wishing he never even considered coming out of retirement. We then turn to the fans. I have yet to find a Minnesota Vikings fan that I can have an intelligent conversation with. It just always seems to end in some ridiculous comments or behavior on their behalf. Then there’s the dang horn. Oh, how Packer fans loathe that stupid horn. Personally, I hate the Vikings more than the Bears, but that’s because I’ve been on the winning end of the Bears rivalry for basically all my life.
1a. Chicago Bears
It’s the most storied rivalry in all of sports. It dates back to before any of us were even born. If you were, chances are you were too young to know what the heck football even was. Even players know that when Green Bay and Chicago line up against each other, it’s more than just 1 game, it’s a season defining moment. If you have a rough season, it could all be turned around in the eyes of the fans if you beat the Bears and maybe hurt their season a little. There are stories of Chicago ensuring the hot water heaters in the Packers locker room were disabled so they’d be forced to take cold showers. In the 80s there’s a story of Packers coach Forrest Gregg placing hits on the heads of Bears players, paying his guys a bonus if they’d injure their target. And who could forget one of the most recent additions to the fire of the rivalry, Aaron Rodgers telling Bears fans that he “owns them.” For fans under the age of 40, we all know the stories, but we’ve been spoiled by a 75% Packers winning percentage over the past 30 years. So sometimes it’s hard to take it seriously when it seems like we always defeat Chicago. Absolutely a rivalry defining moment came in 2011 when the Packers faced the Bears in the NFC Championship. Never were the stakes as high as that game. Win and you’re going to the Super Bowl. Lose, and you have to watch your rival play at your expense. The Packers were victorious in that game so once again the Packers have the bragging rights. Those over the age of 40 suffered through many more losses to the Bears, so their view might be different from those younger, but Packers vs Bears will always be top of the rivalry food chain.
Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.