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The 15 quarterback duels we’re dreaming about during the long NFL offseason

Veteran vs. veteran. Rookie vs. rookie. Clashes between the new and old generation. The 2019 season has the QB matchups we can’t wait for.

We need the offseason to hurry up already. It’s a long wait until it’s over, but we already have a lot to look forward to the 2019 season.

Now that the draft is behind us and we know where the vast majority of the big-name free agents are playing (et tu, Ndamukong Suh?), it’s time to focus on the games we’ll be watching in the fall. Nothing drives the interest in these games more than quarterbacks — and the NFL is loaded with talent at the position right now.

The league has a diverse group of quarterbacks, by age and skill, across all 32 teams. From the classic dropback passer to mobile quarterbacks who excel at making highlight-reel plays, the 2019 season has explosive matchups littered in the schedule.

We narrowed it down to the 15 quarterback duels we’re most anticipating for the upcoming season.

Stars vs. Stars

The NFL games we all look forward to usually feature the best, established quarterbacks taking the stage and dueling it out. Here are five to keep an eye on this season.

Andrew Luck vs. Matt Ryan, Week 3

The Colts and Falcons already had two of the best offenses in the NFL. Then they went out and got BETTER.

It was a bit surprising considering their holes on defense, but the Falcons’ plan in the draft was to protect Ryan. Atlanta drafted Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary in the first round to solidify its offensive line in the hopes of making it an elite unit. The Colts gave Luck some more weapons — they drafted Parris Campbell and signed Devin Funchess to bolster their receiving room.

This will also be the first time Ryan and Luck face each other in their careers. Ryan has played Indianapolis twice, but the last time Matt Hasselbeck was stepping in for an injured Luck.

This matchup will be different. Two of the league’s best quarterbacks with improved supporting casts? In a dome?

Yes please.

Russell Wilson vs. Drew Brees, Week 3

Here’s the first of three You’re Too Short To Play Quarterback Bowls that will appear on this list.

Wilson just became the newest highest-paid player in the NFL after signing a four-year, $140 million deal with the Seahawks earlier in April, and he’ll get an early season showdown against another elite quarterback. In a way, Brees bucking the height trend paved the way for a guy like Wilson to secure the biggest bag (for now) in NFL history.

It won’t take much for this battle to be more entertaining than the previous version. The last time Brees and Wilson faced off in 2016, they only combined for one touchdown through the air in a 25-20 win for the Seahawks. Hopefully their Week 3 matchup will have the offensive fireworks that these quarterbacks are capable of producing.

A bonus duel will be Seahawks rookie receiver D.K. Metcalf taking on Saints Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Lattimore. Metcalf will get a chance to prove why he should have been a first-round pick against one of the premier cover corners in the game.

Philip Rivers vs. Ben Roethlisberger, Week 6

The top two quarterbacks from the 2004 NFL Draft (Eli who?) will be trying to match the intensity and drama from their game a year ago. They’ll be meeting again for a Sunday Night Football contest.

Last year, Rivers helped lead the Chargers on an epic comeback against Roethlisberger’s Steelers in a primetime matchup. The Steelers led 23-7 at halftime, but the Chargers outscored them in the second half en route to a last-second victory on the road.

This time around, the game will be in California — and the Steelers will be without Antonio Brown, who put up 10 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers. Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster will get a chance to show that they can still lead a potent offense on national television.

Patrick Mahomes vs. Aaron Rodgers, Week 8

Circle your calendars for Week 8 of the 2019 season. We’re getting Mahomes against Rodgers on Sunday Night Football.

Mahomes vs. Rodgers is fun for obvious reasons, but none more than this: Mahomes is the one quarterback to be compared to Rodgers and it actually works. They’re both mobile, accurate quarterbacks who can make insanely accurate throws from just about any angle the human arm will allow.

Both of these guys are comeback machines in primetime games. Last year, Rodgers opened the season by rallying the Packers against the Bears on Sunday Night Football and had another against the 49ers on Monday Night Football. Mahomes engineered a Chiefs comeback win against the Broncos last season on Monday Night Football and almost did the same against the Patriots TWICE.

This is the top one percent of quarterback play in the league. It might be one of the most anticipated quarterback duels in years in terms of the sheer level talent between the two players. If new head coach Matt LaFleur and Rodgers are on the same page, then this Week 8 matchup has explosive potential.

Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes, Week 14

If the first two games between Brady and Mahomes were any indication, then we should be in for a thriller in Week 14. Last year, they first met in a 43-40 Patriots win at Foxborough that featured 692 combined passing yards and 31 second-half points by the Chiefs.

New England beat Kansas City 37-31 in the AFC Championship Game after an untimely Dee Ford penalty pushed the game into overtime, where Brady got the ball and carved the Chiefs up on the first drive.

That overtime coin toss squandered a legendary performance from the young Chiefs quarterback. Mahomes did everything he could, throwing for three touchdowns in the second half. Even in the loss, Mahomes was still able to put up a passer rating of 117.

With the timing of this game, it could have major AFC playoff seeding implications, giving the third meeting between Brady and Mahomes a little more intensity — as if it needed it.

Young gun vs. Young gun

Games between young quarterbacks give us a peek into the future of the league. Also, some of the unrefined play that comes with green quarterbacks can lead to wildly entertaining games.

Lamar Jackson vs. Kyler Murray, Week 2

Let’s get this out the way: Murray will be the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals to start the season. He was the No. 1 pick and his competition for the job is Brett Hundley. No offense to Hundley, but the writing is on the wall there. Plus, GM Steve Keim already said Murray would be the starter to open the season.

That will give viewers a game between two of the youngest and most dynamic quarterbacks when the Cardinals and Ravens play in Week 2. The passing might be a little inconsistent, but Murray and Jackson should both be able to create dazzling plays with their legs.

This game could be a preview of where offensive scheme is headed in the league, while also showcasing the pair of exciting quarterbacks.

An underrated matchup in this game is Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury — who will be calling plays — taking on Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale. Martindale was one of the best defensive playcallers in the NFL a season ago.

Baker Mayfield vs. Sam Darnold, Week 2

The top two quarterbacks taken in the 2018 NFL Draft will have the national spotlight on Monday Night Football in Week 2.

Mayfield and Darnold both had strong finishes to last season that they’ll be looking to carry over into this year. Freddie Kitchens and Adam Gase will also be getting accustomed to their new head coaching gigs.

Last year, Mayfield had his NFL coming-out party in this very matchup. He came off the bench against the Jets during Thursday Night Football and led the Browns to their first win in nearly two years. It helped set the tone for Mayfield, and for Cleveland, the rest of the season. The Jets and Darnold are looking for that signature win themselves.

Josh Allen vs. Dwayne Haskins, Week 9

First, Haskins has to win the starting job in Washington. Haskins vs. Case Keenum in a quarterback battle? Yeah, I’m going to take my chances with Haskins there.

That means we’ll get a battle between the 2019 first-round pick and Allen, a 2018 first-round pick. This offseason, Buffalo has added offensive linemen, receivers, tight ends, and running backs to help out Allen — the Bills’ offense could be one that takes a big step forward in 2019.

It’s not like they could be much worse than they were a year ago.

Washington’s supporting cast isn’t completely barren, either. Paul Richardson and Derrius Guice are returning from injury, and the team has one of this year’s best draft classes coming in. If Haskins can get up to speed quickly, that’s an offense that could surprise people.

Haskins was the model of consistency during his one year as Ohio State’s starter, while Allen has been a wildly inconsistent passer since his days at Wyoming. It’ll be fun to see those two different styles of play butt heads in this game.

Kyler Murray vs. Baker Mayfield, Week 15

This is the second You’re Too Short To Play Quarterback Bowl that’s showing up here.

Mayfield will have a little revenge game when the Browns visit the Cardinals in Week 15. Mayfield started his college career as a quarterback for Kingsbury at Texas Tech, where things didn’t end too smoothly. Mayfield will have a chance to take on his former college coach for the first time in the pros.

There will also be a reunion between Mayfield and Murray, the two most recent Oklahoma quarterbacks. And they both won the Heisman Trophy. Oh, and they were both No. 1 overall picks.

This game could be fiery on and off the field — especially since Mayfield probably won’t be able to help himself. Just remember how he taunted former coach Hue Jackson when the Browns played the Bengals after Jackson was hired there last season.

Lamar Jackson vs. Sam Darnold, Week 15

Ravens vs. Jets sounds boring on paper, but Jackson and Darnold can make this Thursday Night Football game worth tuning in for in Week 15.

With all the athletes they added in the 2019 NFL Draft for Jackson, the Ravens’ option attack should have incredible peaks throughout the season.

Darnold won’t be running around as much as Jackson, but he has the athleticism and arm strength to make difficult plays on the field.

These two should bring the excitement that a Ravens-Jets game, in December no less, typically lacks.

Old guard vs. the new guard

At times, the clashes between young quarterbacks and veteran quarterbacks feel like the passing of the torch. Here are a few to circle for next season.

Deshaun Watson vs. Matt Ryan, Week 5

Watson is one of the brightest young stars the NFL has. In his first 16-game season, Watson scored 31 total touchdowns and led the Texans to the AFC South crown. In Week 5, he’ll be taking on veteran quarterback Ryan and the loaded Falcons offense.

The Texans will still be breaking in two rookie offensive linemen in Tytus Howard and Max Scharping. Watson was sacked 62 times last year, and he still might be running for his life.

But Watson’s chaotic, backyard style of play is a fun contrast to Ryan’s precision passing from the pocket. Given the unconvincing state of the Falcons’ defense, Watson should be able to put up enough points to counter the Atlanta offense.

Baker Mayfield vs. Russell Wilson — Week 6

This is the third and final You’re Too Short To Play Quarterback Bowl.

Mayfield and Wilson have a chance to be two of the most productive quarterbacks in the league next year. They both have the ability to create big gains down the field while extending plays with their legs.

Wilson’s receiving corps might not have the star power of Odell Beckham Jr., but Tyler Lockett and Metcalf have the talent to take the top off of any defense.

Tom Brady vs. Baker Mayfield, Week 8

Mayfield and Brady playing against each other might result in a screaming match in the middle of the field over who’s been doubted more.

Mayfield has the opportunity to get an impressive win against the most accomplished quarterback to ever play in the NFL. He’ll also have his first matchup against defensive mastermind (and former Browns coach) Bill Belichick and a retooled Patriots’ defensive line featuring Michael Bennett and Chase Winovich.

No matter the outcome of this game, one thing is for certain: plenty of chips will be added to the shoulders of both quarterbacks.

Aaron Rodgers vs. Dwayne Haskins, Week 14

Green Bay and Washington are playing again this year, but it won’t be Alex Smith going up against Rodgers like last year. Haskins should be beginning his reign as Washington’s quarterback, and that means he’ll be facing off against Rodgers this time.

Haskins can see how he stacks up against one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He was incredibly efficient at Ohio State, but taking on arguably the most efficient passer in NFL history will be a tough test.

Sam Darnold vs. Ben Roethlisberger, Week 16

Darnold and the Jets will be squaring off against Roethlisberger’s Steelers in the penultimate week of the season.

Darnold and Roethlisberger have similarities in their style of play. Neither of them is afraid of taking risks and both can buy time in the pocket for big plays downfield. Roethlisberger might think he’s watching a younger version of himself.

We’ll also be getting Le’Veon Bell playing against his former Steelers teammates for the first time after he sat out the entire 2018 season. That’s an added layer to what was already an intriguing matchup.