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Week Four of the 2012 season has a strong slate of division games, including several between teams with lopsided win-loss records over the last 10 years.
Looking back at the dominance between some division rivals, tides are clearly changing. The Bears, Vikings and Packers have had their way with the Lions for more than a decade up until two years ago, but the Lions are no longer a team that can be looked past. The Texans have gone from the punching bag of the AFC South to the clear-cut top team in the division.
Some traditions, though, haven’t changed much, like the beatdown the Steelers have put on the Browns, or the Patriots’ supremacy over the Bills (despite a Buffalo victory last year).
In Week Four, there are four divisional matchups in which one team has dominated (winning percentage above .750) over the last 10 years. This week’s NFList goes through all the divisions to find the 10 rivalries in which one team has won 75 percent (15 games) of the 20 regular-season matchups in the last 10 years.
1. (tie) Patriots 18-2 over the Bills — In Week Three last season, the Bills rallied back to beat the Patriots 34-31, ending a 15-game losing streak that went back to 2003. The Bills have played close games with the Pats, and an improved offense and defensive line have closed the gap, but not in Foxborough, where the Bills haven’t won since 2000. With Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the Patriots have also reigned supreme over the Jets (15-5) and Dolphins (14-6) over the last decade, but they have owned the Bills.
Steelers 18-2 over the Browns — Since returning to the NFL, things haven’t been easy for the Browns against the rival Steelers. Pittsburgh has won four in a row, and had won 12 consecutive meetings before a Browns 13-6 win in 2009. The Browns did cover the spread both times last season, but unlike some of the other serial division cellar dwellers, the needle is not pointing up for Cleveland, and it’s not pointing down for the Steelers.
3. (tie) Packers 17-3 over the Lions — In the last 10 years, the Lions are a combined 14-46 against the NFC North, but obviously things have changed in Detroit in the last couple years, and they shouldn’t expect another 10-game losing streak in the series (like they had from 2005-10). The one-sided nature in this series has gone on for a long time. Since 1955, the most wins the Lions have been able to string up in a row against the Packers is four, and they haven’t won back-to-back games vs. Green Bay since 1998-99.
Colts 17-3 over the Texans — The Colts welcomed the Texans to the NFL by handing them nine consecutive losses before the Texans managed a 27-24 win in 2006. Houston has won two of the last four, but the Colts upset the Texans in Week 16 last season. The Texans are now the class of the AFC South and Peyton Manning is no longer there, but Andrew Luck should help keep this series from drastically going in the other direction in the future.
5. Vikings 16-4 over the Lions — What makes this series interesting is that the Lions have in fact won the last three meetings. From Oct. 13, 2002 to Sept. 26, 2010, the Vikings won 16-of-17 matchups. Those Vikings teams were never too dominant, but they often had their way with the Lions, until recently. The Vikings lead the all-time series 66-33-2, doubling up on the Lions throughout the years, but now the Vikings are the team at the bottom of the NFC North looking up.
6. (tie) Seahawks 15-5 over the Rams — The Rams had won four in a row starting in 2003, but Seattle has won 13 of the last 14.
Chargers 15-5 over the Raiders — From Dec. 28, 2003 to Nov. 1, 2009, the Chargers won 13 consecutive games in the series.
Patriots 15-5 over the Jets — Bill Belichick lost his first three meetings against the Jets before starting the recent trend of beating Gang Green.
Steelers 15-5 over the Bengals — Mike Tomlin is 8-2 against the Bengals since taking over in 2007.
Ravens 15-5 over the Browns — Cleveland has not beaten the Ravens since Nov. 18, 2007, with Baltimore winning eight in a row in the series.