Despite the Patriots' dominance over the last decade there have been plenty of teams that have been a recurring thorn in their side and given them some of the most epic games in football history.
The Pats and Denver Broncos had some of the most memorable games of the last ten years, including an epic comeback in 2013 by New England and then the Broncos ending their season twice in the AFC Championships of 2013 and 2015. No opposing stadium has given Tom Brady more problems than Denver.
The Pats knocked off the Ravens in 2011's epic AFC Championship that came down to the end. The following year the Ravens would beat them in the regular season and then get their revenge in the championship game. 2014's divisional matchup was another back and forth affair that saw the Patriots fall into two 14-point holes, only to claw their way back to get the win. No matter when the Pats and Ravens meet, there's always a little extra juice.
The Jets are always a rival even if they could only follow their 2010 playoff victory over the Patriots with just two more overtime wins in the decade. The Steelers got just two wins over the Patriots in the 2010s, bowing out to New England in the 2016 AFC Championship. More recently, the Kansas City Chiefs have emerged as a Patriots rival, including memorable wins over the Pats in 2014 and 2019, but also falling to New England in perhaps the best AFC Championship ever in 2018.
This week's Samsonite Make Your Case question of the week is…
Who is the Patriots Rival of the Decade?
Mike Dussault says...
The 2009 Wild Card win doesn't really count, but that domination by the Ravens, the likes of which the Patriots had never seen in the playoffs until that point, set the tone for what would be the most bitter rivalry of the decade. Recently, on the NFL Top 100 of All Time, Ray Lewis said if there's one game he could still get up for it would be a Patriots-Ravens AFC Championship Game.
Those games in 2011 and 2012 were two of the most hard-fought and closely contested playoff games of the decade, featuring some of the best players to ever play the game in their prime. 2014's Divisional playoff game was every bit as epic, with the Patriots mounting two comebacks and breaking out the Brady-to-Edelman-to-Amendola touchdown pass that lives in infamy. Brady would seal the win with one of his best throws of all time to Brandon LaFell.
Now, with Lamar Jackson taking over in Baltimore, the stage is once again set for the rivalry to enter a new decade, perhaps with another chapter yet to be written this season that could define its direction.
Paul Perillo says...
Great players make great rivalries and the NFL hasn't seen many than Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. Whether Manning was throwing passes for the Colts or the Broncos mattered little; anytime he and Brady faced each other it was the game of the year.
Denver wasn't really a problem for the Patriots in the early part of the decade but when Manning signed there things changed quickly. Suddenly the Patriots and Broncos battled every year for home field in the playoffs and generally whoever came out on top wound up in the Super Bowl.
In the 2012 Manning got his first start against New England as a Bronco and he lost. But the next year Denver got revenge by beating Brady and the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Two years later, Manning went out on top by beating the Patriots again to get to the Super Bowl.
In between Brady got the better of things, including a memorable comeback from a 24-0 deficit en route to a 34-31 overtime win in 2013. Those two always seemed to bring out the best in each other, and in turn the rivalry brought out the best in both teams.