In the past, if you asked any fan of the Baltimore Ravens who the team's biggest rival was, it would have an unanimous answer. The Pittsburgh Steelers was the easy answer and might still be for many fans of both teams.
However, there is beginning to be a hesitation to that same question, especially after the past two post seasons. The Ravens have played the same team in the past two AFC Championship Games and both times the opponent was the New England Patriots.
Could the Patriots be unseating the Steelers as the Ravens biggest rivals at this point?
While Baltimore plays Pittsburgh twice each year in their divisional home-and-away series, the Patriots and Ravens will only meet if they either play the AFC East in the schedule rotation or finish in the same spot in their respective divisions. The two teams have played each other six times in the last four years, three times in the regular season and three in the playoffs.
The Ravens have won the last two, at home during the 2012 regular season and at New England in the 2013AFC Championship Game. Every Ravens fan and most Patriots fans know that Baltimore should have won the 2012 AFC Championship Game, before Lee Evans dropped an apparent Joe Flacco TD pass then Billy Cundiff shanked an easy field goal.
On the other hand, over the same span since the 2009 season, the Ravens and Steelers have played nine times, with Baltimore winning five of the eight regular season games other than the post season loss in the 2011 playoffs.
While the Steelers games are always close, usually decided by a field goal, the Patriots games have seemed to be more critical as of late, with three playoff match-ups since the 2009 season.
Is this enough to unseat the hatred fans feel for the Steelers and crown New England their most vilified rivals? Probably not, but a lot of Ravens fans feel that the Steelers are on the downside of their success while the Ravens are atop of the football world as defending Super Bowl Champs, much less two-time defending AFC North title holders.
What say you?