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NFL's top five rivalries for 2019 season: Browns-Steelers at No. 1!

It's the NFL's oldest rivalry. And I will say, as a native of Schaumburg, Illinois, it's also the league's best. Actually, the NFL says that, too, as the two teams were hand-picked to lead off the NFL's 100th season. So it's the best. You don't have to take my word for it.

However, here are five rivalries that could be the best in 2019. Let's get started.

Actually, wait ...

BONUS PICK: Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets

The New England Patriots are, without a doubt, the main event in the AFC East. As they have been all millennium. But the Jets and Bills have an opportunity to steal the show like they're Edge and Mick Foley in WrestleMania 22, Steve Austin and Bret Hart in WrestleMania 13, CM Punk and ... you get the point. This is an up-and-coming rivalry.

The Jets landed one of the top prizes in free agency this offseason: Le'Veon Bell. The multi-talented running back not only gives the offense instant credibility, but he will be a calming presence for 21-year-old quarterback Sam Darnold, who'll look to take the sophomore leap recently seen from a lot of young QBs. The Bills have a promising second-year signal-caller of their own, Josh Allen, who put in some solid work as a rookie. His leap over Anthony Barr was the defining moment of the team's surprisingly competitive season. Buffalo also took a leap at all-world receiver Antonio Brown. It didn't work out, but the Bills are obviously looking to make moves. And they did. John Brown might not be the headline-grabber AB would have been, but JB has the skill set to match what Allen is able to do. Allen throws far, Brown runs fast. Brown and new teammate Robert Foster both ranked in the top six in air yards per target last season (among receivers with at least 40 targets, per Next Gen Stats).

5) Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts

This is what I would expect to be deemed the most polite rivalry in NFL history. I really can't imagine Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson getting into a shoving match in the tunnel like it's the 1980s NBA. Instead, both quarterbacks would become too exhausted repeating, "No, after you," as each refused to walk in front of the other. But these teams have the killer instinct between the lines. Frank Reich could have played it safe and gone for a tie vs. Houston back in Week 4 of last season. But in a true Han Solo "Never tell me the odds" moment, he went for the win. Indy lost the game but won the battle in the playoffs, as the Coltseliminated the host Texans on Wild Card Weekend. I get the sense these two teams aren't finished yet.

And while we're talkin' AFC South, let's not sleep on the Jaguars, who could get back in the mix with Nick Foles at quarterback.

4) Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles

First off, if the Eagles really do want to bring back the Kelly greens, go all the way back to the Ron Jaworski era and wear the uniforms the Birds sported when they played host to the Cowboys in the 1980 NFC Championship Game. OK, Philly actually rocked their whites on that day ... but they had Kelly green trim! You get the point. Cowboys, you can wear the unis you donned in that conference title bout, as well: Those royal blues suit you.

OK, so, the NFC East is always fun for rivalries. The Eagles hate the Giants ... who hate the Redskins ... who hate the Eagles ... and so on. But everyone hates the Cowboys the most. And when Dallas is good, the rivalries are even better. Both the Eagles and Cowboys made the second round of the playoffs in January. And as a Bears fan, again, I don't want to get into how the Eagles made it that far. But both teams look loaded for the 2019 season and should again be the front-runners not only for the division, but for announcers to make that hacky "These teams don't like each other" statement when they square off in prime time.

3) Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints

You don't really become a rivalry until you force a rule change. The NFL just made pass interference reviewable, thanks to the widespread outcry that spawned from a missed call in January's NFC Championship Game between the Saints and Rams. New Orleans politicians threatened legal action. One attorney actually filed a lawsuit against the NFL on behalf of season-ticket holders. Fans (and even Saints receiver Michael Thomas) tried to convince Commissioner Roger Goodell to have the results of the game thrown out. It was a wild scene. To make matters worse, the Saints and their supporters must have been heated watching the Ramsscore just three points in the Super Bowl. Well, if they watched the game. (Apparently, most didn't.)

But despite one dubious play, these two teams hatched a pair of instant classics last season -- one in November, one in January. And both rosters are stocked up for another run at the playoffs -- and more. When they face off in L.A., it'll be must-see TV.

2) Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chiefs were one of the best stories of 2018, as Patrick Mahomes set the league on fire (and took home MVP honors) with 50 touchdown passes. If I'm being honest with you (not that I wasn't up to this point), not enough was made of the fact Mahomes racked up 50 TDs in his first season as a starter. The no-look stuff was great, but 50!! Even in this era of ridiculous passing marks, that kind of stands out as an outlier.

However, as great as the Chiefs were last year, the Chargers were right on their heels. In fact, the Bolts had a huge rally in Kansas City to knock them off in the national spotlight of "Thursday Night Football". And the Chargers would have won the division, too, if not for a tough loss at home to the Ravens in Week 16. Make these two teams the Monday nightcap in Week 1 and let's party!

1) Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Before you accuse me of just jumping on the bandwagon and supporting the Browns after a wild offseason, let me say a few things. For starters, you are absolutely correct. I love what the Browns have done. The trade for Odell Beckham Jr. was a masterstroke. (And hey, I kinda called it a year ago.) But this Browns team is going to be a lot of fun. I know we've seen some so-called dream teams fail in the past, but this one looks really good. And the rivalry got some additional juice in Week 17 of last season. No, the teams didn't play each other, but the Browns could have sent the Steelers to the playoffs with a win over the Ravens. Cleveland fell just short, leaving Pittsburgh out of the postseason tournament for the first time since 2013.

I understand that it would be fitting to have Browns-Ravens as the rivalry here -- because Baltimore stole the Browns years ago, and the Ravens are the reigning AFC North champions -- but there is something that just feels right about Browns-Steelers being the pick. Because there will be no in between with these two. Either the Browns fulfill their destiny this season and win the division in convincing fashion, rollicking past the competition while the Steelers fall into further chaos. Or the Browns finish 5-11, while the Steelers claim the top seed in the AFC. I'm telling you: It's one or the other.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @AdamRank.

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