We woke up a little woozy Monday morning, and not for the usual reasons.
The schedule says that rivalry weekend isn't supposed to take place until the Saturday before Thanksgiving, when all the traditional college football grudge matches start to unfold.
But rivalry weekend came to the sports world a little early this year: first, the Ultimate Fighting Championships gave us one of the most highly anticipated bouts in its short but meteoric rise through sporting culture. And then the good old sporting heavyweight NFL pitched in with a series of rivalries of all kinds that unfolded on Sunday.
Here are the battles ... and the results.
Rivalry: Hogs vs. Hogs (Giants vs. Baltimore)
Rivalry: 2008 Titans vs. parity
Winner: Titans (so far)
The story: If this fantasy called "parity" actually existed, you'd think it would be tough to win consistently in the NFL. Yet just one year after the Patriots became the first 16-0 team in NFL history, the Titans are attempting to become the second.
They fell behind 14-3 to the Jaguars at halftime Sunday, but dominated 21-0 in the second half to win with relative ease.
The race against parity and history may go down to the wire: Tennessee hosts the Jets in Week 12, before what should be three easy wins in a row against the Lions, Browns and Texans. They close at home at home against the batte-hardened Steelers, and then with a visit to Indy to stare down their divisional nemesis in the finale.
Rivalry: Stone Age football vs. Space Age football
Winner: Stone Age football
In five of 14 games Sunday, both teams scored fewer than 20 points. The Eagles and Bengals played to the NFL's first tie in six years, while combining for just 3 points on the final 30 minutes of football; the Steelers beat the Chargers in the first 11-10 game in NFL history (while causing a near riot among gamblers
in the process); and Dallas beat its old-school rivals from D.C., 14-10, a score that looks more like it belongs in 1948 than 2008.
Rivalry: Young Stud QBs (Matt Ryan vs. Jay Cutler)
Winner: Jay Cutler
The story: Denver's 25-year-old QB Cutler edged out Atlanta's 23-year-old QB Ryan, as the Broncos edged out Atlanta, 24-20, in our first taste of what could develop into the next great QB debate after Brady-Manning runs its course.
Rivalry: Former AFC powers turned 2007 laughingstocks
The story: Throughout the 1970s, Dolphins-Raiders was one of the NFL's premier battles. Last year, they were two of the most inept teams in football.
But the beauty of the NFL is that time moves quickly, even when measured on our Mayan calendar of analysis, and yesterday's losers can quickly become today's winners. The Dolphins are proof: 1-15 last year and in the thick of the playoff race this year.
Sadly, evolution has passed by the Raiders, who remain locked in the most miserable stretch of football in franchise history. It continued with their 17-15 loss to Miami on Sunday.
Rivalry: The NFL's oldest warriors
The Bears and Packers, the NFL's most played rivalry, met for their 175th regular-season battle since 1921, when the team from Wisconsin representing the Acme Packing. Co
. first squared off against the representatives of Chicago's Staley Starch Co
This one was no contest, as the Packers embarrassed the Bears, 37-3, in Green Bay.
But George Halas is happy to report that the Bears still lead the all-time series, 89-80-6; they've outscored the Packers 2,988 to 2,862; and won the lone postseason battle between these two teams, 33-14, back in 1941.
So stuff that in your piehole, Green Bay.