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I'm not sure if I made the comment in a chat or in a post on this blog. But, somewhere, I recently said I thought the best rivalry in the NFC South was between the Panthers and Buccaneers.
Several readers wrote to disagree and here's a sample:
Ross in NYC writes: Hey Pat, You wrote a little while back that you thought the panthers and bucs had the best rivalry in the division. I respect your opinion but I disagree. I think it is the falcons and the saints. First of all it is the oldest rivalry in the division and has been THE southern rivalry in this league. Also throw in the fact that when they play each other it is usually a very close and exciting game. I also think the fans of these two teams get more riled up when they play each other than any other fans or teams in the division. Just giving my opinion on the matter and I think most falcon and saints fans would agree, love your work.
That made me think we should open this up for discussion. I'll stick with Carolina and Tampa Bay and give you my logic behind it. This rivalry really heated up a few years back when there was a war of words between Warren Sapp and Carolina's defensive line. It spilled over to the punters and kickers with Todd ("The Boom," as he prefers to be called) ripping Martin Gramatica (and his family) at every opportunity. I also remember the most physical game I've ever seen when the Panthers went down to Tampa Bay in 2003 and blocked three kicks.
Yeah, the best days of this rivalry might have been a few years ago and most of the central characters are gone. I still go with it as the best in the NFC South.
But we're all entitled to our opinions. So hash it out in the comments section below or send a note to my mailbag in the right corner of this page.