Love a good rivalry? So do we. Here are five of the best head-to-head matchups in the National Football League for the 2002 season, the fields that teams have come to fear the most, and players - old and new - to keep a close eye on.
As Zach Thomas sat in his locker stall after yet another Dolphins collapse against the Jets, the emotion of the moment swept over him like a South Florida storm. "This is getting ridiculous," Thomas said before dodging some of the media procession en route to the shower. Last season, for the eighth consecutive game, Miami was beaten by its most bitter rival despite the fact that on most occasions, on paper, the Dolphins appeared to hold the upper hand.

So it goes in the NFL, where rivalries like this are as unpredictable as a Bill Belichick defensive game plan. But while the Dolphins and Jets have waged an East Coast war for the better part of three decades, many blast-from-the-past rivalries have again reared their ugly heads (or, as football fans would like to think, beautiful heads). But before we delve into those battlefield conflicts, let's focus on one of the golden oldies that never grows old: Dolphins versus Jets.

"Man, it's totally in their minds now," explains Jets defensive end John Abraham. "I mean, they're just waiting for us to beat them in the second half. No matter how good they are playing, something happens to them in the second half and something happens to us. The results speak for themselves."

They certainly do. Last season, Miami blew two games, and in doing so greatly hurt their chances of hosting the AFC playoffs and, perhaps, playing in New Orleans instead of New England.

"Yeah, I have no idea what's going on here," says Thomas, the Dolphins' mini-mite middle linebacker. "We just can't put this team away, no matter how important the game is. We've got to change things this season or we're destined to remain in the middle of the pack in the AFC."