Let's just get this out of the way now -- The Baltimore Ravens and Washington Football Team do not have a rivalry.
Just like when the idea gets manufactured with the Nationals and Orioles, it may be something fans or media want, but it just doesn't exist.
Sure, Washington and Baltimore have a rivalry as cities, but that's it. Old Bay or mambo sauce? Let's yell at each other over that. What happens on the football field between the cities though has had very little meaning over the years.
The key to building a rivalry is having games that matter.
The seasons when the NFC East was in it's prime (remember those good 'ol days?) is when we had the best Washington and Dallas matchups because those games had more riding on them. Whether it was a chance to get into the playoffs, win the division, or even go to the Super Bowl, a resume of tough close games with huge stakes is what built up that once great rivalry on the field.
Right now, Washington is in a complete rebuild, while the Ravens, despite a horrific showing on Monday Night Football, are chasing a championship.
Even if the game is competitive Sunday by some miracle, it'll mostly be forgotten. It's another regular-season game between two teams in different conferences going in different directions that just-so-happen to have stadiums that are 35 minutes apart.
Now, if you want to talk about competing for fans, we may have something there.
It's no secret that years of ineptitude in Washington and an exciting Super Bowl contender in Baltimore have led to some younger fans in the area finding themselves wearing Ravens gear.
No, I'm not saying Washington Football fans are now "converting to Ravens fans" (this always fires up the Twitter mob), but I am saying younger kids, who are just getting into sports, are gravitating to the purple and black instead of the burgundy and gold. Eventually, those kids become hardcore, lifelong fans, and one fan base grows, while the other suffers.
They have a choice, and they're making a different one even if they live in what we might perceive as "Washington Football territory".
This, of course, can all change. But the reality of the situation is both teams need to meet in a Super Bowl, just like the Nats and O's need to play in the World Series.
Neither team is in the same conference (or league if we're talking the baseball side of this), and regular season matchups won't have as much juice when it comes to determining even divisional races for either organization since, well, they don't play in the same division either.
All of the characteristics that make regular-season matchups between two organizations important just don't exist.
Sure it would be fun for Washington Football fans to have some bragging rights when dealing with the inevitable scenario of being stuck around your Ravens fan friends, but the real rivalry can only exist after years of bitter, hard-fought games between two contenders.
Until that reality exists, both sides are stuck arguing over whether the half-smoke or crabs cakes are better.