Now that preseason has officially begun, the excitement for regular season has doubled among football fans everywhere. Looking ahead, there are some great match-ups in store this NFL season; ones that are bound for excitement, some upsets, and some anxiety down to the final second of the fourth quarter. Some teams have completely revamped their rosters and staff, some have found a new sense of competitiveness, and some have experienced changes that could rewrite their fate this season in comparison to previous ones.
While there are some great match-ups this season, what is more interesting and perhaps even more exciting, are the quarterback duels that are in store for fans this season. Teams have gotten stronger, some may have gotten weaker, players have retired, and the competitiveness amongst some teams has become more intense; all of these factors will play a part in the way quarterbacks go up against each other. Super Bowl quarterbacks will see rematches, although things will now be vastly different and some quarterbacks will face teams where they will be motivated by vengeance and increased competitiveness. We will see rookies play future Hall of Famers and second year quarterbacks play with a better team around them. Looking forward, it seems as if everything is up in the air and anything is possible when it comes to these quarterback duels.
15 Drew Brees vs. Eli Manning (Week 2)
Both of these teams struggled in the 2015 season but when it comes to these two quarterbacks, they are two of the best in the league. Eli Manning is facing the 2016 season with a new coach, something he has never experienced since entering the league in 2004. Perhaps this new sense of direction will be what the Giants need, or this season could be a struggling one as they learn to adapt to this new coaching style. On the other hand, Drew Brees and the Saints have a great coach behind them and I am sure Sean Payton and his team will come into this season more competitive and more determined. No matter what kinds of changes these teams experience and go through, it is always entertaining to watch two great quarterbacks face off.
14 Colin Kaepernick (Blaine Gabbert?) vs. Russell Wilson (Week 3)
We have yet to know who Chip Kelly will name his starting quarterback for the 2016 season but whether it is Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert, going up against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Week 3 should be just as entertaining and interesting to watch. Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson were one of the most entertaining quarterback duels to watch in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. With the hope that Chip Kelly will reignite the competitive edge in this team, this quarterback duel should once again be entertaining to watch. Both Kaepernick and Wilson are mobile quarterbacks, leaving fans and viewers to never know what will happen next. Not to mention, Chip Kelly is known for his innovative and unique play calling and coaching style; one that can completely change the play style of the San Francisco 49ers in general. If Blaine Gabbert is chosen as the starting quarterback, this quarterback duel will also be entertaining since Gabbert is also just as mobile and this match-up will leave fans on the edge of their seat between him and Wilson.
13 Teddy Bridgewater vs. Marcus Mariota (Week 1)
This duel is a prime example of quarterbacks coming back with more of a competitive edge. With the additions the Tennessee Titans have made this offseason, it is hard for anyone not to be intrigued with what kind of success they will see this season. Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota Vikings progressed rather well last season, making it to the post-season and you can be certain they are returning this year even more determined and stronger. By drafting Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry and signing DeMarco Murray, Marcus Mariota's offense is slowly building around him. Not to mention, Mariota's hardworking spirit makes him a natural leader and in his short time in the NFL, he has shown this and has adjusted well to his team. Both Bridgewater and Mariota are mobile quarterbacks and with their deeper sense of determination and competitiveness. This match-up should be an entertaining one.
12 Jared Goff vs. Jameis Winston (Week 3)
A year ago Jameis Winston was in the same situation Jared Goff is now in. Both first round draft picks, it will be interesting to see the difference in Winston's performances this season compared to last and it will also be interesting to see how well Goff adapts to his new team. It is amazing what one year in the NFL can do to a rookie's skill and experience. I am sure we will see a much more confident Winston who is more in sync with his team; this is something we were starting to see towards the end of the 2015 season. It is always fun to try and predict how a rookie will do in his first season, and when it comes to Jeff Goff, I think the Rams new home in Los Angeles combined with their fans' newfound excitement makes this even more entertaining. Fans are hoping that things are looking up for the L.A. Rams and perhaps Jared Goff will be one of the answers to this, but with that being said watching Jared Goff and Jameis Winston go head-to-head -- a rookie and a second year quarterback -- should be interesting.
11 Carson Wentz vs. Tony Romo (Week 8)
This is close to the opposite of the Goff vs. Winston duel because this is a rookie and a veteran quarterback, which will be just as entertaining and interesting, but for different reasons. When Tony Romo stays healthy, him and the Cowboys have a pretty solid team, who's competitiveness shines through and who can put up a fight. Carson Wentz is playing with an Eagles team who has struggled in the last few years but perhaps he is one of the answers to giving that team back its edge. There was a lot of hype around Carson Wentz during the combine and before the draft, and that excitement may be exactly what the Philadelphia Eagles need; fans need some hope and the team itself needs a new direction to see newfound success. Watching what this rookie does in his first season will be interesting but watching how he plays against a quarterback who has been in the league for fourteen years will be entertaining. These two teams meet in Week 8 for the first time in the 2016 season, so a lot can change injury-wise for both of them before they get to face off. However, if they manage to stay healthy it will be fun to see how Wentz plays, given what he learns in the first seven weeks of his career compared to Romo's natural poise, skill, and of course his experience.
10 Cam Newton vs. Mark Sanchez (Week 1)
It is a Super Bowl rematch, but the picture definitely looks different than it did last February. Cam Newton and the Panthers had a near perfect season and I am sure they will be just as competitive this season as the last. Things look vastly different for the Broncos though; not only did Peyton Manning retire but they also experienced a loss with the Brock Osweiler move, leaving them to sign.. Mark Sanchez. Mark Sanchez has a killer defense with the Broncos but offensively, there is a struggle, one that we all witnessed throughout the 2015 season. Mark Sanchez has plenty of experience under his belt but going against Cam Newton and his many offensive threats may be one of his biggest challenges this season. Sanchez could surprise the entire football community with this outing; the first official game of the season no less. This should be an intersted match-up come opening night.
9 Aaron Rodgers vs. Matthew Stafford (Week 3)
It was one of the most talked about plays of the 2015 season, as Aaron Rodgers brought his team to a 27-23 victory after scrambling in the final seconds of the fourth quarter and throwing a 61-yard Hail Mary down the field for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions. It is hard to forget the dumbfounded, heartbroken, and confounding facial expressions on every Detroit player and fan. Who would have thought that Aaron Rodgers would pull the same miracle twice in the same NFL season? Both Detroit and Green Bay are in the NFC North, which already causes immense competition between them but with this unexpected, last minute play that took away a victory for Detroit, you can bet that Detroit is going to come back with vengeance this season. Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford are entertaining quarterbacks to watch, but seeing how Stafford channels this determination will make this duel a fun one.
8 Russell Wilson vs. Tom Brady (Week 10)
We all remember it. How could the team that is known for "Beast Mode" not go into "Beast Mode" during Super Bowl XLIX? Their final drive was one of the most talked about topics for months but this NFL season, we get to watch these two quarterbacks face off once again. With Russell Wilson's mobility, him and the Seahawks are always leaving fans and viewers on the edge of their seats, never knowing what type of play they are going to produce. Tom Brady is the face of a very strong, confident, and competitive team and that makes for entertaining football. With Brady's poise, skill, and offensive threats along with Wilson's mobility and constantly changing play style -- this quarterback duel should be a fun flashback and an entertaining game for NFL fans to watch.
7 Tyrod Taylor vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick (Week 2)
As a quarterback, Tyrod Taylor is very entertaining to watch and the Buffalo Bills have such potential for success with Rex Ryan's determined state of mind and a growing team. Ryan Fitzpatrick signed his one-year contract with the New York Jets and so far this preseason, he seems to look good with his team. When these two teams played last season, the hype was around Rex Ryan playing against the team he formally coached but this season, what will be interesting is the growth that Taylor and Fitzpatrick have experienced. It's Taylor's second year with the Bills and as a young quarterback, he still has such potential to grow nicely with this team into an elite player. This is also Fitzpatrick's second year with the Jets, and with coach Todd Bowles behind him, there seems to be a grand amount of potential behind this quarterback. This quarterback duel is interesting because for both of these players, it will be interesting to see how they enter this season and compete based on what they learned from the 2015 season. This duel is also made even more fun by the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick previously played for the Buffalo Bills, lots of connections here.
6 Ben Roethlisberger vs. Andy Dalton (Week 15)
Cincinnati was looking good last season, and when Ben Roethlisberger is healthy, Pittsburgh obviously has a strong team - especially with their offensive threats. Both of these teams, offensively, are fun to watch and with these two quarterbacks, this match-up is bound to be an entertaining one. You never what is going to happen when Roethlisberger is on the field. As for Andy Dalton, he has a tendency of completing pivotal plays that make a difference and contribute to his team's success. Both of these quarterbacks excel at deep-passing and their determination to get their to team to where they need to be in a game is what will make this duel intriguing and entertaining. This match-up will take place later on this eason but hopefully will be well worth the wait.
5 Tom Brady vs. Ben Roethlisberger (Week 7)
Ben Roethlisberger once again! When Tom Brady and Roethlisberger meet in Week 7, it is bound to be entertaining. These are two, very strong teams in the AFC and these teams are consistently strong, so fans can count on this match-up being consistently entertaining. Both Brady and Roethlisberger, when healthy, are consistent in their deep-passing, leadership, and determination to drive their team down the field to do what needs to get done. Not to mention, both of these teams have such offensive threats that compliment their quarterback's skills so well and with this type of consistent offense on both sides, entertaining football is almost a sure thing. Expect this game to be an intense match-up and look for both Brady and Roethlisberger to impress.
4 Russell Wilson vs. Aaron Rodgers (Week 14)
Two of the most mobile quarterbacks in the league are set to meet in Week 14 and when they are both considered two of the most entertaining quarterbacks to watch, how can this not be one of the best duels this season? Both Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers have a tendency to scramble when they are in trouble, keeping plays alive longer than other teams typically do and leading to miracle plays that change the fate of the game in a matter of seconds. Both of these quarterbacks keep viewers and fans on the edge of their seats. They are not predictable and the plays they produce can confound everyone. When these two quarterbacks meet and compete, it is bound to be one of the most entertaining match-ups of the 2016 season. This is one of those games that is sure to entertain and electrify the auidence.
3 Brock Osweiler vs. Mark Sanchez (Week 7)
This is something we have all been waiting for since Brock Osweiler left for Houston and Denver signed Mark Sanchez. What an interesting duel this will be; one that will be based on how well these two quarterbacks have adapted to their new teams. It had been suspected that there was a chance Manning would retire after the 2015 season but it was also assumed that the Broncos would have Osweiler as their new starting quarterback. This seemed perfectly fine when Manning was benched/injured and Osweiler started for the team, leading them to three consecutive wins, one of which was a win over the then undefeated New England Patriots. After a Super Bowl championship though, Denver suddenly found themselves without two of their quarterbacks, leading them to Mark Sanchez. By Week 7, Mark Sanchez may find his groove with his new team and Osweiler's talent may already be shining amongst his new team. This quarterback duel will be an interesting one, as well as an eye-opening one in terms of how these quarterbacks are adapting to their new homes.
2 Robert Griffin III vs. Kirk Cousins (Week 4)
Again, this is a match-up we have been waiting for since Robert Griffin III signed with the Cleveland Browns. Kirk Cousins showed some promise with the Washington Redskins last season, some enthusiasm as well, and I know RG3 fans are hoping that this will be a comeback year for the quarterback who showed such potential when he entered the league. If healthy, Griffin can rely on his mobility to get his team down the field to score, and similar to all the other mobile quarterbacks in the league, this can work miracles during games. Griffin is with a not-so-strong Cleveland team though, and it will be interesting to see how this quarterback can revamp and ignite their competitiveness and determination. When these two quarterbacks meet, it will be entertaining to see how well Cousins has grown with the Redskins even more, knowing that this team will have even a stronger sense of competitiveness and determination after making it to the Wild Card playoff round last season.
1 Carson Palmer vs. Cam Newton (Week 8)
The Arizona Cardinals and Carson Palmer just may be the most competitive and determined team in the NFL. You can be certain they will be entering their match-up against the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton with vengeance, heart, and purpose. The Carolina Panthers are also one of the most competitive teams in the NFL and both of these quarterbacks have a grand amount of passion and tenacity. For the last two years, the Panthers have knocked the Cardinals out of the playoffs, ending their season. The Cardinals are coming back stronger, more motivated, and more determined to make it farther this season than they have in the last few years, and they will want this victory against the Panthers. As we all know though, Cam Newton is not going to let this game go by without a true competitive fight and with excelling offenses and solid defenses, this game will be both fascinating and compelling. Cam Newton and the Panthers are confident though and this match-up is bound to be competitive and entertaining as these two quarterbacks fight for a win once again.
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