Who are the Saints’ Rivals in the South?

Local pride plays its part in regional identity in the NFL. But with no other teams in Louisiana, who are the biggest rivals for the New Orleans Saints?

New Orleans Saints’ Rivals in the South

There are a few cities and regions that have their own football rivalries. But the NFL is not really set up in the same way as a league like soccer’s EPL, where crosstown rivalries are common. The Saints are the only major league team in Louisiana and stand tall as its representative. But who are their main rivals then? Do football fans in Florida get upset when New Orleans wins? Or is there a spike in sports betting in Texas when the Saints play Dallas? Read on to find out who the big rivals are for the New Orleans Saints – and whether our team from the Big Easy is the biggest in the south.

Main Rivals – Atlanta

When it comes to the biggest rivals it is only natural that teams in the same division spring to mind first. Familiarity breeds contempt, as the old saying goes. The oldest rivalry is definitely the one with the Atlanta Falcons. The two teams joined the league within a year of each other and have played each other twice a season ever since 1967. In all that time the head-to-head record is remarkably close. The Falcons just edge it with 53 wins compared to 51 for the Saints. New Orleans lost narrowly in the Superdome last season, before beating Atlanta in its own stadium on the final day of the regular season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Saints have started to develop an interesting rivalry with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in recent years – and the playoff game in the 2020 season kept that going. The two have been in the same division since 2002 and the Saints have a healthy lead in games between the two.There had actually been quite a few match-ups as non-divisional rivals before they were joined in the NFC South – and they faced each other every year from 1981 to 1992. Saints fans won’t remember the playoff game in 2021 fondly though, as Tampa Bay won 30-20 on the way to a Super Bowl victory.

Carolina Panthers

This is one of the most interesting developing rivalries for the Saints. Carolina only joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1995 but there have already been some very high-profile incidents at games between the two. The series is evenly balanced too – with the Saints just edging it at 28-25. There have been fights between players, as in the meeting in 2014. There is also the fact that the Panthers seem to just love playing at the Superdome. Carolina won every year from 2002 to 2008 and knocked the Saints out of playoff contention in 2002. A Panthers win even set in motion Jim Mora’s resignation in 1996.

Florida Teams

Although geographically Florida is home to some of New Orleans’ closest rivals, there has never been much of a relationship with the Dolphins or Jaguars. Miami is quite a distance from the Big Easy by road and Jacksonville has not been in the league long enough for any rivalry to kick in yet. With Tampa Bay being in the same division, most of the energy seems to go into that rivalry rather than extending to any of the other Florida teams. There haven’t even been that many games between the Saints and the Jags or Dolphins. New Orleans enjoys a 5-2 record with Jacksonville and has won six of 13 games against Miami.

Teams from Texas

The other fairly local rivalry could be with teams from Texas. But because of the way the divisions work – and the lack of playoff games in the past – there has never been as much of a clash with either the Dallas Cowboys or the Houston Texans as might be expected. There were the Oilers before the move to Tennessee, of course. But the Saints have only played the Texans five times, winning three including the last one at the Superdome in 2019. Games between the Saints and Dallas go back a little further, with the Cowboys coming out on top, 13-18. Maybe New Orleans needs some more playoff games to get those rivalries going.

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