Is a rivalry really a rivalry if one team always wins?
Some would argue not. A rivalry becomes truly great when both teams go back and forth competing for victories and championships.
Over the course of history, there have been plenty of one-sided battles. That was again on display on Saturday night, when Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers fell to 0-4 in his playoff career against the San Francisco 49ers.
Here’s a look at the biggest one-sided rivalries across all major sports:
NFL: Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
The NFL’s oldest rivalry has often been a lopsided one. Green Bay holds the all-time series lead at 103-95-6 since the first meeting back in 1921. From the 1920s through the 1950s, Chicago held a decisive 49-26-6 edge. But from the 1960s through modern times, Green Bay leads the series 71-45 and is currently riding a six-game winning streak. Rodgers famously screamed at Bears fans over his ownership of the rivalry after his latest victory at Soldier Field.
NBA: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings
This California rivalry isn’t hasn’t gone the Kings’ way too often. The Lakers have a 280-161 record against the Kings in the regular season, plus a 25-11 edge in the playoffs while winning eight of nine series. Their most famous battles came in the early 2000s, when Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers eliminated Chris Webber, Peja Stojaković and the Kings in the playoffs three straight years. (Of course, the 2002 series didn’t come without controversy.)
MLB: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
Perhaps the most famous rivalry in all of sports, the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry began when Boston sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919, one year after the Sox won the World Series. Thus began the Curse of the Bambino, where the Yankees won 26 titles in 86 years while the Red Sox suffered heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss and failed to win a single title. The curse was reversed in 2004, when the Red Sox erased a 3-0 series deficit and beat the Yankees. Since that comeback, the Red Sox have won four World Series crowns to the Yankees’ one and the rivalry has essentially flipped.
NHL: Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins
No two teams have played more in NHL history than the Canadiens and the Bruins, and it’s largely been a Montreal-dominated rivalry. The Canadiens hold a 469-347-103-10 series lead, plus a 106-71 postseason record. Of the 34 postseason series between these rivals, Montreal has won 25 times. Boston has turned it around in recent years, winning seven of their last 12 playoff series dating back to 1988, but Montreal still owns 24 Stanley Cups to Boston’s six.
NCAA football: Ohio State vs. Michigan
It’s been a tale of two rivalries for this heated matchups. The Wolverines dominated in the early stretch, going 15-0-2 to begin the rivalry from 1897 through 1918. Since the 21st century began, though, it’s been all Buckeyes. Ohio State has won 17 of the last 20 meetings and had won eight straight before Michigan was victorious in 2021. Michigan still holds the series lead at 59-52-6, but this rivalry has been all Ohio State as of late.
NCAA basketball: Kentucky vs. Louisville
These two Kentucky schools first met way back in 1913, when the Wildcats defeated the Cardinals 34-10 (yes, that was a basketball score in 1913). Kentucky won nine of the first 11 meetings with Louisville from 1913 through 1951. Overall, Kentucky holds a 37-17 series edge and it has won 11 of the last 14 meetings dating back to 2010. They have also met six times in the NCAA Tournament, with Kentucky winning four times.