20 years of dominance and success has only poured fuel on the fire of several intense rivalries between the New England Patriots and other NFL teams.
The New England Patriots have been around for 60 years now. Over the course of that time, they’ve made quite a few enemies around the NFL.
In the very beginning, the Pats mostly flew under the national football radar, finishing first in their division and making the playoffs just once in the old AFL days.
Outside of a surprise run to Super Bowl XX in 1985, New England didn’t make a lot of noise in the ’70s or ’80s either, winning the AFC East just twice and making only five postseason appearances in two decades of competitive play.
Things started to turn around in the ’90s under Bill Parcells and Pete Carroll, especially with the arrival of Drew Bledsoe at quarterback. The Patriots became more disruptive — particularly within the AFC — as other franchises outside of New England’s own division began to take notice.
And then, finally, we all know what happened when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady arrived in 2000. This dynamic duo reshaped the identity of the Patriots forever en route to six Super Bowl titles and numerous other individual and team accolades.
Primarily because of the Belichick/Brady partnership, the Patriots are now one of the most despised (and admired) teams in professional sports.
They are the subject of intense ire and consternation for many franchises and fanbases around the country … but only a worthy few deserve a reciprocal level of loathing from New England’s own players, coaches, alumni, and fans.
For example, as much as the Steelers may consider the Patriots a primary antagonist, Pittsburgh hasn’t really been much of a stumbling block for New England this millennium.
Denver, on the other hand, was always a difficult place for New England to win in — even before Peyton Manning arrived at QB — but the Broncos also just barely miss the cut for this list, mainly because they and the Pats have so rarely both been good at the same time throughout history.
Kansas City looks like they’ll be a thorn in New England’s side for decades to come now that Patrick Mahomes has received his massive contract extension, but that rivalry is still relatively new. Perhaps if this list gets revisited in a few years, the Chiefs will crack the top five.
For now, though, all three of those teams are honorable mentions.
Let’s take a look at and power rank the five franchises that represent the Patriots’ greatest historical rivals as of 2020 … starting with a very familiar division foe at No. 5.
Honorable Mentions: Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs