The Philadelphia Eagles have been around since 1933. As one of the oldest franchises in existence, the team has a number of key rivalries both in their own division and outside of it.
But what makes a rivalry? In most cases, to classify as a classic Eagles rivalry, there needs to be high stakes moments in the playoffs or regular season, off-the-field controversy and more.
So let’s take a look back and see just who are the biggest rivals to Philadelphia.
5. Chicago/Pheonix/St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals
However you want to call them, the Cardinals have a rich history with the Philadelphia Eagles. Before the division realignment, the Cardinals, yes those same Cardinals, were in the NFC East with the Cowboys, Eagles and formerly-Redskins.
While the Cardinals were not a very good football team for most of their history – there are deep rival connections between the two teams.
To start, the Eagles first ever NFL Championship in 1948 was won against the Cardinals in a 7-0 blizzard. Steve Van Buren scored the only touchdown in the game.
Fast forward over 50 years and the Cardinals and Eagles met in 2008 with Arizona making their first Super Bowl appearance ever. On the field, the rivalry was tight, but they also had off-the-field feuds as well.
Perhaps none were more fierce than Conrad Dobler and Bill Bergey’s fights in the 1970’s. In the 70’s the Cardinals were a high-flying offense thanks to Don Coryell. Both the Cardinals and Eagles would fight for playoff supremacy behind Dallas for the better part of three seasons. Cheap shots and verbal altercations made the Dobler/Bergey fights lethal.
This is a rivalry that is seldom talked about now, but definitely one rich with stories.
4. Washington Redskins/Football Team/Commanders
People will be shocked to find a current NFC East rival below a non-division opponent but there’s good reason for it.
As much as people in Philadelphia hated the Hogs of the 80’s or the “Over the Hill Gang” in the 70’s, the Washington/Philadelphia rivalry wasn’t as fierce as some of the others below. Now that being said, there were still plenty of memorable moments.
Perhaps none were as jaw-dropping, or skull-shattering as the “Body-Bag Game” in 1990. The Eagles injured nine Washington players in the game and running-back Bobby Mitchell had to come in to play quarterback against the vaunted Eagles defense.
Outside of that though there really aren’t many big playoff moments that stand out. Washington won in the only playoff game the two have faced off in months after the “Body Bag Game.”
There are moments like the Jason Peters fight with Chris Baker for a cheap shot on Nick Foles or Washington cheap shotting Darren Sproles on a punt return.
There are certainly some key moments that make this a top rivalry. It’s just not close to the top three.
3. New Orleans Saints
I don’t think there’s been a football team that Eagle fans have hated outside of their own division more than the New Orleans Saints.
For most of the Saints history, they were some of the worst football teams ever constructed. But in the late 80’s and on, they have been a thorn in the Eagles side.
In the 1992 wildcard, the Eagles won their first playoff game since the 1981 NFC Championship. It would be the last playoff appearance for Jim More as a Saints coach.
Since the 2000’s though, this rivalry has become more and more heated.
The 2006 NFC Divisional Round saw the Saints beat Philadelphia to get to their first NFC Championship game ever, even though Sheldon Brown left Reggie Bush with a parting gift. In 2013, Dew Brees beat Nick Foles in Philadelphia in the wildcard to send New Orleans to Seattle as well.
Who can forget the 2017-18 run though? The Saints, after having been knocked out of the playoffs by the Minneapolis Miracle, cried for months because they should have been the Super Bowl champs instead of Philadelphia.
Their cries lasted all the way until next season when a 48-7 win in the Superdome and a 20-14 divisional round win against a depleted Eagles team were replaced by crying over a no-call in the NFC Championship game.
The Saints have cried foul a lot over the years, and there have been plenty of playoff moments recently to make this a top rivalry for Eagle fans and the team.
It also helps that the Eagles next first round pick is contingent on the Saints being bad this year as well.
2. Dallas Cowboys
If I could do a 1a., 1b. I would. The Cowboys/Eagles rivalry is one of the fiercest in all of football and right on par with New York.
There have been playoff moments like the ’81 NFC Championship Game that sent the Eagles to the Super Bowl. The ’92 divisional-round game that got the Dallas dynasty started, or even the ’09 wild card game that saw the end of the McNabb era in Philadelphia.
But this rivalry also has incredible regular season moments as well.
There’s Harold Carmichael’s streak of catches in a game ending when Dallas gave him a cheap shot in 1980. There’s Buddy Ryan and Jimmy Johnson feuding for years over “bounty-bowl.” Or how about Barry Switzer trying to break the Eagles will in 1995 and getting stopped on fourth down twice to give the Eagles a win. Or even the 44-6 shellacking of the Cowboys in 2008 that sent Philadelphia to the playoffs.
There is no game in Eagles history though, that has meant more than T.O.’s return to Philadelphia as a member of the Cowboys in 2006. Nothing will ever come close to the level of vitriol and anger Eagle fans had for one player and one team ever in sports.
Babies are taught “Dallas sucks” as their first words in Philadelphia. When that is happening, there’s just no rivalry better.
1. New York Giants
Proximity matters. New York and Philadelphia sports rivalries are always heated. Throw in two of the older franchises in NFL history together and you have an absolute blood bath. In terms of regular season and playoff moments, there isn’t a team that’s been connected to the Eagles more than the New York Giants.
In 1960, Chuck Bednarik’s hit on Frank Gifford that essentially kept the hall-of-famer from playing for a full year is one of the greatest shots in history. There’s the first Miracle of the Meadowlands with Herman Edwards running because the Giants refused to kneel-down. Or how about Lawrence Taylor’s first football game in which he knocked out Ran Jaworski in 1981 followed by a playoff win for the Giants in the wild card?
There’s the 1988 regular-season game that saw the Eagles’ Clyde Simmons return a blocked field goal for a touchdown to win the Game in the Meadowlands AGAIN. In reality, that’s the second “Miracle of the Meadowlands.”
The third came in 2003 when, after the Giants won another playoff game against the Eagles in 2000, Brian Westbrook’s punt return gave the Eagles the win and started a run back to the NFC Title game.
There’s 2006’s wildcard game with Brian Westbrook and Jeff Garcia almost costing Tom Coughlin his job. Or how about 2008, when Donovan McNabb, Andy Reid and the Eagles defense stunned the #1 seeded Giants in New York to get to their fifth NFC Title game.
And of course there’s the fourth “Miracle of the Meadowlands” where DeSean Jackson ended the Giants season with a game-winning punt return for a touchdown.
The Eagles have owned this rivalry as of late and actually own an above .500 record against the G-Men.
The Cowboys and Giants are the Eagles two biggest rivals. Any way you want to put them is fine by me, but there’s nothing better, or fiercer than when the Giants and Eagles meet up.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire