Earlier this year, KnowRivalry.com published the result of a survey among 1,649 NFL fans looking at the biggest rivals for each team. Respondents were given 100 ‘rivalry points’ and asked to allocate those points across their favorite team’s opponents.
A younger Cowboys fan for example might have chosen to allocate 40 points to the Eagles, 30 to the Giants, 20 to the Redskins, and 10 to the Packers. An older Cowboys fan might have allocated 60 points to the Redskins, 20 to the Giants, and 20 to the Steelers.
The aggregate point totals of all fans allocating their rivalry points give a pretty good picture of which teams fans consider their biggest rivals. According to the research, the Cowboys fans polled consider their three NFC East division opponents their biggest rivals, who combined for 86 of the possible 100 points.
- Eagles - 39.5 Rivalry Points
- Redskins - 25.1
- Giants - 21.4
It's one thing to know how Cowboys fans feel about their rivals, but how do fans of other teams feel about the Cowboys? After all, when you're America's Team, it's not just the division rivals that hate you, the haterade is coming from all over.
One of the best takeaways from the research by KnowRivalry.com is that it quantified the hate flowing towards Dallas from the fans of the other franchises. "Reverse Rivalry Points" show the rivalry points by rival team's fans for each team. Here are the top five five teams as measured by total reverse rivalry points:
- Patriots - 267.6 Reverse Rivalry Points
- Cowboys - 217.3
- Packers - 207.0
- Steelers - 201.2
- Saints - 151.8
At the bottom of the scale, you'll find teams like the Buccaneers (24.5), Jaguars (26.1), and Cardinals (26.3), who hardly elicit any strong feelings from opposing fans, unlike the Patriots and Cowboys, who generate some very strong feelings among other fan bases, though for different reasons.
Here are the eight teams, in ascending order, that consider the Cowboys a rival, along with their reverse rivalry points.
8. New Orleans Saints (3.4) - Not quite the interstate rivals the Texans are, but the close proximity still means familiarity breeds distress.
7. Green Bay Packers (4.5) - Not sure that this is a full-fledged rivalry, but it is a storied one, going all the way back to the 1967 Championship Game known as the Ice Bowl, and which recently has been fueled by meeting twice in the Divisional Round of the playoffs in the last three years.
6. Arizona Cardinals (5.9) - Some residual resentment from the days when the Cowboys and Cardinals were division rivals up until realignment in 2002.
5. Houston Texans (17.6) - Cowboys fans don't spend a lot of time thinking about the Texans (Rivalry score of just 0.8), but Texans fans seem to obsess over the Cowboys a lot. That's probably because even in a state as big as Texas, the Texans remain the junior varsity team and forever in the shadow of the mighty Cowboys. See, the Cowboys define football. The Texans just play it.
4. San Francisco 49ers (28.1) - 49ers fans seem to be perennially stuck in the 90s, when the 49ers-Cowboys rivalry actually was a thing, and fans probably still wear flannel shirts and listen to grunge up there. Given the sad state of the 49ers franchise in recent years, that shouldn't be much of a surprise.
The Cowboys rank second on the list of 49ers rivals behind the Seahawks (37.8) but way ahead of division rivals like the Rams (11.8) or Cardinals (4.1). The 4.6 rivalry points Cowboys fans allocated to the 49ers at this stage are likely noting more than a pity vote.
3. New York Giants (38.6) - Giants fans consider the Cowboys their second biggest rival, just behind the Eagles at 42.3, though the Giants take a backseat to the Eagles and Redskins in the eyes of Cowboys fans.
As a division rival, the Giants have a natural rivalry with the Cowboys, and while the rivalry is partly fueled by a mutual dislike between the old-money Giants ownership and the new-money Cowboys ownership, the rivalry is defined much more by its on-field history than by any off-field shenanigans. The Giants have always been a tough opponent, even with a chump like Eli Manning leading them over the last decade plus, but it is a rivalry oddly devoid of personal animosity between the two fan bases.
2. Washington Redskins (50.0) - I'm a bit disappointed that the Redskins didn't end up in the top spot. This has been a great rivalry for decades, perhaps one of the most storied rivalries in all of sports, replete with its own lengthy Wikipedia entry. Sadly, like almost everything Redskins owner Dan Snyder has touched in Washington, this once great rivalry has gone down the crapper as well.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (60.8) - In a universe where the laws of physics demand that scum always rises to the top, the Eagles find themselves at the top of the list of Cowboys haters by a wide margin. No other fan base in the NFL defines itself by its hate of another team as much as Eagles fans do, and their hate of the Cowboys borders on the pathologically obsessive-compulsive.
So there you have it. The eight fan bases with the strongest feelings about the Cowboys.
Only one team attracts the kind of hate that lays waste to state borders and geographical boundaries; only one team unites fans from coast to coast in their collective envy; only one team translates the vitriol directed its way into an inescapable media presence completely unconnected to its fortunes on the field: America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys.
Deal with it.
Who do you feel is the Cowboys' biggest rival today?
This poll is closed