Right off the bat, let me get something straight. I am a Kumbaya type of guy. In my college days, I believed in loving my neighbor, especially if they were single and hot. Nowadays, I feel like we need to search for common ground among people that we don’t understand. I just had this lecture a couple days ago with my son and a couple of his friends but how you don’t know what’s going on in somebody’s head. You don’t know about their insecurities, their hopes and dreams, and you might find out that they’re just like you. In life that’s what I hold firm on.
In my opinion, the sports world is hella different when it comes to fandom. As Steeler fans, we’ve enjoyed a lot of bragging rights over the past 50 years, but there’s needling that comes with it to. When the Steelers get Tebowed, friends, acquaintances and neighbors that wear bright orange got their gloat on. When AB blew up, others delighted in the fact that the Steelers couldn’t control him (Here, nobody could). Fanbases could be obnoxious. But that’s not what this is all about.
It’s the actual teams and their players that are on the tip of the tongue here. There are franchises that are merely competition but fail to elicit much anger. Then there are the clubs that play the villain every time the Steelers host them or sashay into their town. Let’s take a peek at the meek, the so-so, and the abhorred.
15) Houston Texans
The Steelers have only lost twice to Space City and are 5-2 overall. The closest thing to a villain ever in H-Town was J.J. Watt, and he’s beloved in Pittsburgh.
14) New York Jets
From 1970-2003, the Steelers were 14-1 against the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Mess. They are 20-7 overall, but the Jets have won 3 out of the last 4. But seriously, still not a big concern.
13) Indianapolis Colts
With the exception of the annoyance of the Colts being good in the decade of the late 2000s with Peyton Manning, the Steelers have never seen Baltimore or Indy as a threat. 27-6 overall, but the Steelers have made the horseshoe unlucky for the team that dons it in 18 of the last 20.
12) Miami Dolphins
You would think that the Dolphins would be higher on this list. Despite making the egregious error of bypassing Dan Marino and allowing the Central Catholic phenom to land in South Florida, the mammals really aren’t usually that big of a pain. Sure, Miami has won 3 of the last five contests but the Steelers have triumphed in 7 of 10 and lead by the slim margin of 15-14.
11) Los Angeles Chargers
The Steelers are 24-11 overall and 10-4 in their previous 14, but only 2 of their last 5 against the Chargers. With Justin Herbert now, Dan Fouts back in the day, and the debacle that was the Alfred Pupunu game, there are some hard feelings harbored against the bolts. However, not too hard.
Annoying Here and There
10) Tennessee Titans
When you count their days as the Houston Oilers, the Steelers had a fierce rivalry despite being 48-32 all-time against Houston/Tennessee. As the Titans, the two teams are tied at ten a-piece. But the 2002 playoff loss where Tennessee’s Joe Nedney would have won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Penalty-Drawing Role is the most-egregious foul in the history of these two.
9) Las Vegas Raiders
The anger for this particular team is the best defined by the demographic that you find yourself in. My dad and most fans from way back are going to rank the silver and black so much higher due to the days of Al Davis, John Madden, Jack Tatum, George Atkinson and Cliff Branch. But now a days the Raiders are far from the worst-behaved bunch that the Steelers faced in five-straight playoff games in the 1970s. Oakland/Los Angeles/Las Vegas may have defeated the Steelers 4 of the 6 previous games. But even trailing the almost-Oakland Senors 17-14, there are smellier fish to fry.
8) Buffalo Bills
The Steelers have actually fared well against the Bills over the years. Sure, parts of the 90s with the Jim Kelly years were rough, but with an overall record of 17-12. I still don’t think Buffalo are major villains. I realize that the Steelers have lost 3 of 4 against Buffalo and Josh Allen is going to be tough to beat, but the biggest reason the Bills are this high are their annoying fans, Bills Mafia.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars
These two teams were fierce rivals from Day 1 as AFC Central rivals. The Duval fans are disrespectful and the two playoff losses sting. To make matters worse, the Jags lead 14-13 all-time. With Trevor Lawrence now in the mix, the Jags may extend their league and become even more of a thorn in the side of the yinzer. The good news is that Mike Tomlin’s team is 5-2 over the previous 7 against J-Ville. But playoff loses are tough to stomach.
6) Denver Broncos
The 2023 Broncos don’t really seem like that big of a deal, but they have playoff potential with Sean Payton at the helm. Really, the biggest problem is that the Steelers struggle when they go Mile High or welcome them as visitors. Despite Pittsburgh winning the previous two contests, the Broncos own the Steelers overall with a record of 20-13-1. In the playoffs, it’s even worse with the Orange Crush with a 5-3 postseason record vs. the Steelers.
Constantly Sticking in Black-and-Gold Craws
5) Kansas City Chiefs
The current version of the Chiefs is mostly annoying because Mahomes and Kelce are dominating like Brady and Gronk. But despite losing three straight, the Steelers are 23-14 all time
4) Cleveland Browns
You don’t need stats to know why the Steelers and the Browns are major rivals. Close vicinity, all those losing years before the 70s and the existence of Myles Garrett. But if you still need to know, the Steelers lead 45-11-1 in the last 57 contests and 80-62-1.
3) New England Patriots
The 2000s completely changed this rivalry. Every Steelers fan hates the Patriots because of being dominated since Spygate. That might change soon, but it will always sting. The Pats only lead the all-time series 18-16, but the Steelers have only beaten these guys 4 out of the last 18 since 1998.
The Very Worst of Friends
2) Baltimore Ravens
This is the gold standard of NFL rivalries, but there’s a good bit respect between the two teams. Their coach is HOF quality, but he’s very irritating and obnoxious to many Steelers fans. The rivalry is heating up again, but the Steelers still lead 33-25 and have won 5 of the past 6. It’s going to end up back at No. 1 on this list.
1) Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are hot right now and are because of drafting so high by being so crappy for so long. They are so obnoxious about it and that’s both the team and the fans. Where there’s respect between the Ravens and Steelers, there’s very little here. Overall, the Steelers lead 80-62, but Cincy fans want to talk about winning 4 of 5, not the 11-straight the Pittsburgh won before that.
That’s the lay of the lack-of-like-land for the black-and-gold present. It is surely going to change. But the way the author sees it, the Bengals are Public Enemy No. 1 for now.
Check out the most-recent episode of BAD Language for more on the black-and-gold rate of hate on the player below: