#1: Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady
Yep. The greatest rivalry of the new millennium wasn’t between two teams, but two men. That is how giant of pillars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were to the NFL throughout their Hall of Fame runs. It was such a marvelous narrative too. The heralded #1 overall pick with a rich family football history against the overlooked late round pick who found tooth and nail for his opportunity. It seemed almost like destiny that they were going to clash.
Clash they did. In all, including the playoffs the two men for 17 matchups from 2001 to 2016. At first it didn’t seem like a rivalry at all. Brady won the first six-straight of their meetings, including twice in the playoffs. Manning wasn’t going to be humbled like that for long though. He won four of the next five meetings and got revenge in the 2006 AFC championship en route to his first title.
Brady would control most of the home stretch, winning four of the final six meetings, but Manning arguably got him when it counted with both his victories coming in the AFC title game. It’s a rivalry that all NFL fans had to tune in to watch and one that is still missed to this day.