The greatest intraconference rivalries in NFL history (NFC edition)

The dominance of the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, and San Francisco 49ers throughout the 1980s and 1990s led to the development of some intense NFC rivalries. These teams found themselves preventing each other from establishing legacies even more rich and traditional than what they've written today.

Please note that these are in no particular order other than being in the top four (and the last one is #1). Honorable mentions are also in no order.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers

The 49ers and Packers rivalry emerged in the mid 1990s. From 1995 to 2001, these teams collided into each other for five playoff match-ups. 1995-1998 pitted these opponents four times during an era where the Packers were surpassing the 49ers and Cowboys as the NFC's supreme team.

The teams have played over fifty-five times with the Packers having a slight advantage in the overall record of the series. However, the Packers are 4-1 playoffs, the only defeat coming in the 1999 NFC Wildcard when Terrell Owens(notes) snatched a twenty-five yard game-winning touchdown reception at the end of regulation.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys and 49ers rivalry came at a time when the MLB was losing its grip as America's game. When the MLB strike eliminated the 1994 postseason, this was the most intriguing intraconference rivalry.

The rivalry featured star players changing allegiances, most notably Deion Sanders and Charles Haley. The NFC Super Bowl representative was often decided during the conference championship. It was Troy Aikman vs. Steve Young. It was Jerry Rice vs. Michael Irvin. It was two of the NFL's greatest dynasties who featured a balanced and explosive attack on both sides of the football.

San Francisco 49ers vs. New York Giants

From 1982-1990, the 49ers and Giants rivalry was the AFC's version of the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts rivalry throughout the 2000s. The 49ers featured a team that relied on a witty offense and one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks, similarly to the Colts. The Giants relied on an aggressive defense and a solid rushing attack, similarly to the Patriots 2000 dynasty.

The 49ers rewrote the NFL history books throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but the Giants prevented them from establishing even more of a legacy. This came into light in 1990 when, going for their third consecutive Super Bowl, Lawrence Taylor recovered a fumble in the 1990 NFC Championship game that led to the Giants kicking a game winning field goal, completing a 15-13 victory. The Giants also brutalized Montana throughout the middle of the 1980s, knocking him out of a 49-3 defeat in 1986.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers

The Packers and Cowboys rivalry featured two of the NFL's most prestigious teams and dedicated fan bases. The rivalry peaked during the 1960s and 1990s, both eras when the teams were fielded Super Bowl and championship caliber organizations.

The organizations combine for seventeen championships, an amazing accomplishment considering the Cowboys have existed only since 1960. The Packers won both NFC Championship meetings that advanced the Packers into the first two Super Bowls, both of which they'd win. However, the Cowboys would begin their NFC raid when Vince Lombardi left. During the 1990s, The Cowboys kept the Packers from winning more Super Bowls. To this day, Brett Favre(notes) has never won at Dallas.

The Packers and Cowboys regularly play on prime-time television when they're matched up during the regular season. The 2007 regular season match-up pitted two 10-1 franchises in a season that was to determine who'd face the New England Patriots in their quest for 19-0.

However, the series is best known for the Ice Bowl, the Cowboys second consecutive bid to upset the Packers in the NFC Championship. The Cowboys thought they were better, but they were victimized by the weather conditions. With wind chills outside fifty below, some Cowboys players claim that they still feel the effects of frostbite.

Most recently, the Packers were responsible for the firing of Wade Phillips after a 45-7 debacle on Sunday Night Football in 2010.

Honorable Mentions:

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys vs. St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings vs. St. Louis Rams

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REFERENCES:

Nancy Gay, SF Gate. "49ers-Packer Rivalry in Rebuilding Mode." Accessed November 25, 2010.

Rob Rang, Washington Post. "49ers vs. Cowboys." Accessed November 25, 2010. Jeffri Chadiha, ESPN. "Ranking the NFL's best rivalries: Where does Colts-Pats fit?" Accessed November 25, 2010.

Jaime Aron, USA Today. "Cowboys-Packers Rivalry Hits New Level." Accessed November 25, 2010.

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Joshua Huffman is a member of the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Updated Thursday, Jan 6, 2011