Sports

A retirement ends NFL’s Manning-Brady rivalry; who’s next?

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning speak following the NFL football AFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Denver. In the final Manning vs. Brady matchup, the Broncos defeated the Patriots 20-18 to advance to the Super Bowl.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning speak following the NFL football AFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Denver. In the final Manning vs. Brady matchup, the Broncos defeated the Patriots 20-18 to advance to the Super Bowl. Associated Press file

When the Denver Broncos reached Super Bowl 50 with an AFC Championship Game victory in January, it marked the end of a longstanding NFL rivalry.

Since 2001, quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have faced each other 17 times. The rivalry became similar to baseball’s Yankees-Red Sox matchups. Love it or hate it, NFL fans have been treated to (or forced to watch, depending on your perspective) the matchups that often aired in prime time.

Brady won 11 times, including the first six matchups, and was 3-2 in the postseason. Manning, however, got the final laugh on Jan. 24, when his Broncos beat the New England Patriots 20-18 to win the AFC title. The Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl two weeks later, then Manning retired after 18 seasons as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

Now that Manning is done, which quarterbacks will forge the league’s next great rivalry? Here are a few possibilities:

Cam Newton vs. Russell Wilson

Carolina’s Newton and Seattle’s Wilson have met five times, including twice in the postseason. Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, and the Panthers won both meetings with the Seahawks last season, but Wilson leads the series 3-2.

The Seahawks will host the Panthers on Dec. 13 in a “Sunday Night Football” matchup on NBC, assuming the game isn’t a victim of flex scheduling.

Ben Roethlisberger vs. Eli Manning

Both Pittsburgh’s Roethlisberger and the New York Giants’ Manning were drafted in 2004. Both have won two Super Bowls. Both have exciting wide receivers in Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr., respectively.

Roethlisberger and the Steelers host the Giants on Dec. 4. This will be only the fourth matchup between the two quarterbacks, with Roethlisberger holding a 2-1 edge. All games were won by the road team, so history says Manning will win this one.

Because they play in different conferences and with the NFL’s set schedule rotation, unless they meet in a Super Bowl, Manning and Roethlisberger’s next chance to face each other in a non-preseason game won’t come until 2020. However, with both quarterbacks over the age of 34, this could be their final meeting.

Derek Carr vs. Blake Bortles

Jacksonville’s Bortles and the Raiders’ Carr both were selected in the 2014 draft. Bortles was the first quarterback off the board at No. 3 overall; Carr was fourth at No. 36.

With the two quarterbacks between them in the draft apparently not playing this season (Johnny Manziel is currently out of the league and Teddy Bridgewater suffered a major knee injury), this season could mark the start of a great rivalry.

Bortles and Carr will meet for the first time on Oct. 23, when Oakland travels to Jacksonville.

Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota

Tampa Bay’s Winston and Tennessee’s Mariota went 1-2 in the 2015 draft. The Heisman Trophy winners met in Week 1 last season, the first time the top two picks were quarterbacks and faced each other in the season opener.

Mariota completely outplayed Winston. The Titans rookie went 13 of 16 for 209 yards and four touchdowns. Winston had one more yard but the Buccaneers leader was 16 of 33 with two scores and two interceptions.

As with Roethlisberger and Manning, because Winston and Mariota play in different conferences and with the NFL’s set schedule rotation, unless they go head-to-head in a Super Bowl, they will have to wait four years before meeting again.

Jared Goff vs. Carson Wentz

Like Winston and Mariota, Goff and Wentz were selected 1-2, respectively. Unlike in 2015, the players are with teams in the same conference (Goff with Los Angeles, Wentz with Philadelphia). Since both play in the NFC, this presents more opportunities to meet on the field.

The Rams and Eagles aren’t scheduled to play in the regular season but should in 2017, assuming the NFL’s current schedule rotation holds true. If Goff and Wentz start for their teams next season, it should make for an interesting matchup.

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