Despite being a diehard football state, Iowa doesn’t have a professional football team. Instead, people across the Hawkeye State root for either the Iowa State Cyclones or Iowa Hawkeyes, with the intra-state rivalry becoming a constant subject of debate.
Nonetheless, that’s nothing compared to what happens when Iowans talk about the National Football League. Not having a team of their own, Iowans often turn to the closest professional teams, which, well, let’s just say, often leads to controversies.
That’s why today, we’re going to let you know about the two most popular NFL teams in Iowa, as well as a little bit of this rivalry’s story and how the foreseeable future looks for both of these teams.
What Is The Most Popular NFL Team In Iowa?
According to most polls, the majority of Iowans root for the Minnesota Vikings, which makes sense, given the proximity and the fact that countless Iowans often took their talents to the Twin Cities before Des Moines became the city it is nowadays.
Nonetheless, the second-most popular team in Iowa is non-other than the Vikings’ lifelong rivals, which is the Green Bay Packers. Simply put, this is like half of the state rooting for the Boston Red Sox and the other cheering on the New York Yankees
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The Packers – Vikings Rivalry
These two teams go a very, very long way. The Packers are one of the oldest, most renowned teams in all of professional football, while the Vikings entered the scene as an expansion team in 1961.
As one would expect, the Packers dominated the early stages of this rivalry. Led by legendary coach Vince Lombardi, they took 11 of the first 14 meetings between these two teams, so it wasn’t much of a rivalry back then.
The Vikings managed to even things up in the 90s, with their home field becoming a bit of a nemesis for the Cheeseheads. It was perhaps the closest time in this rivalry’s history, especially considering the fact that the once-powerful Packers failed to win divisional titles, while the Vikings managed to snatch a couple.
However, it wasn’t until Packers legend Brett Favre committed the ultimate sin that things escalated. Favre, who spent sixteen years and set all kinds of records with the Packers, joined their lifelong rivals just a couple of months after announcing his retirement.
This shocking turn of events paved the start of a heartfelt animosity between the franchises, with a young Aaron Rodgers taking over to lead the way for the Packers. Notably, he went on to win one Super Bowl and turn the team into a perennial contender, while Favre’s stint in Minnesota was short-lived.
Up to this day, Packers and Vikings continue to square off at least twice a year, given they both play in the NFC North division. Green Bay still holds a slight edge in the rivalry with a 64-56-3 record, but it’s safe to say that the Vikings managed to make it closer than some would think.
Vikings Need A Winning QB
The Vikings have a large following in Iowa and it is explained by the number of players that have both played for the Hawkeyes and Vikings. Recently the Vikings hired Kevin O’Connell to serve as their new Head Coach, and the early returns were quite encouraging. They were one of the most dominant teams in the regular season, although they fell short of their goal when it mattered then most, being upset by the New York Giants in the Wild Card round.
That has been the case over and over with the Vikings since Kirk Cousins took over as their starting quarterback. He’s had no shortage of weapons at his disposal, first with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen and now with reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Justin Jefferson.
Cousins always seems to rise to the occasion when they’re facing lesser teams, but he’s simply unable to keep that pace up when they have to step up in class. And it doesn’t seem like he’s the guy they need to finally lead the way and win the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Dalvin Cook has also played a key role in the team’s regular-season success over the course of the past few years. But constant injuries have also prevented him from reaching his true potential as one of the league’s most disruptive running backs.
O’Connell just signed Brian Flores to serve as the team’s new Defensive Coordinator, so they should be much-improved in that regard, especially when it comes to their linebackers. But they’ll also need their quarterback to step up to have a chance in today’s pass-happy game.
Is Rodgers’ Time Up In Green Bay?
Likewise, their quarterback position will be the biggest issue for the Green Bay Packers going forward as well. They have one of the greatest QBs of all time in Aaron Rodgers, but he doesn’t seem happy at Lambeau Field anymore, once again hinting at the possibility of pursuing a trade or retiring from the league.
Rodgers has seemingly kept the Packers hostage with his constant demands and steep salary, and he only has one Super Bowl win to show for it. He’s failed as a leader and has drawn plenty of criticism for focusing more on his numbers than his team’s wins.
Of course, even at 39 years old, he should demand a hefty price in any potential transaction. So, if he does want to leave, the Packers would be in a prime position to gather as many draft picks as they can to go through their long-overdue rebuild, while he’d have the opportunity to play for another team and try to win another MVP or Super Bowl before walking away from the game.
Should that be the case, then we could be approaching some dark years at Lambeau Field, as going from a Hall of Famer QB to someone else could be a ruthless transition. The Packers seem high on Jordan Love, but he hasn’t looked good at all when given the chance to be on the field. Still, maybe a change of direction is just what they need to finally get over the hump.