No rivalry has better encapsulated the way the NFL has gone over the past decade than the ongoing struggle between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. With their storied careers winding down, is there another rivalry to come that could possibly take its place?
Colin Kaepernick vs. Russell Wilson
In terms of a rivalry already brewing, there is no question lots of votes will go to the long wars to come between Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. Indeed the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks look like they will fight over the NFC West for years to come and it will largely come down to which young signal caller has the better day. Wilson currently holds a 2-0 leads on Kaepernick, both wins coming at home last year and earlier this season. The embattled 49ers starter will have a chance to get back in the race when the two meet again in San Francisco. If their upward trajectory continues, there is no question they can and will meet several times to decide the division and also in the playoffs. High stakes is what makes rivalries so great after all.
Andrew Luck vs. Ryan Tannehill
This really isn’t a rivalry just yet but it has loads of potential to become one. Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill were both taken in the first round of the 2012 draft. The first was a can’t-miss first overall pick while the other was considered a slight reach despite the Miami Dolphins having to make the selection due to an obvious need. They’ve already met twice over the past two seasons. Luck took the first bout in a tight 23-20 affair. However, Tannehill returned the favor this season with a 24-20 success. So far the stakes haven’t been that high, but once the two teams fill out their rosters properly around the two talented quarterbacks, the clashes could start taking place in the postseason where it always gets interesting.
Robert Griffin III vs. Nick Foles
If any potential rivalry had a Manning-Brady feel to it, this would be the one. There is of course the polarizing Robert Griffin III, athletic freak and second overall pick. Everyone expected him to become great in the pros. Then there is Nick Foles, a classic pocket passer out of Arizona who dropped to the third round, thereby developing a rather large chip on his shoulder. Maybe not as large as Brady dropping to the sixth but I digress. Each is currently at the head of a young, dynamic offense that has the potential to become so much more explosive over the next few years. If both teams can improve their atrocious defenses, this rivalry has a chance to take that next step in the years to come.
Johnny Manziel vs. A.J. McCarron
Too early to project? Nonsense. It doesn’t happen often but college rivalries do have a habit of bleeding into the NFL. Ask Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll. The story of A.J. McCarron and Johnny Manziel is really a yin-yang type. There is Manziel, the athletically gifted, brash controversial young man from the resurgent Texas A&M who thrills football fans with his borderline Superman heroics on the field. Then there is McCarron, the quiet, confident field general who plays the game on a cerebral level and calmly guides the great powerhouse of Alabama. If that weren’t enough, Manziel is questioned for his height but not his athleticism while McCarron has the height but gets questioned for his athleticism. They have met twice in college to date. Manziel took the first game in a stunning 29-13 upset. McCarron returned the favor this year, outgunning the Aggies 49-42. It seems like destiny that these two quarterback, so different in many ways are destined to get starting jobs somewhere and when they do, the debates will start about which style is better.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning would certainly understand.