We are currently 109 days from the start of the 2017 NFL season and 112 days from the first full Sunday of NFL action.
Week 1 offers some high-profile contests, like Cowboys-Giants, Chiefs-Patriots and Packers-Seahawks. However, the game that I will be diverting my attention to (since I’ll be there, I kind of have no choice) will be when the Oakland Raiders travel to Nashville for the third consecutive season to take on the Tennessee Titans.
As a Raiders fan, I am definitely excited to not only see my team play live, but also to attend my first NFL game. But, besides the fact that the game itself will be top-notch and Nissan Stadium may be my final resting place if Oakland is victorious, it is thrilling to see another chapter in what could be the NFL’s next great quarterback rivalry: Derek Carr vs. Marcus Mariota.
Throughout the modern era of the post-merger NFL, each decade has brought fans intriguing QB showdowns: Terry Bradshaw vs. Roger Staubach in the ’70s, John Elway vs. Bernie Kosar in the ’80s, Steve Young vs. Troy Aikman in the ’90s, and the greatest gunslinger rivalry in NFL history: Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady from the early 2000s up until Manning’s retirement.
Now, Manning’s out of the game, even though he’s still getting large checks from Papa John’s and Nationwide. Brady’s going on an award tour that would make A Tribe Called Quest envious after winning his fifth Super Bowl ring in February, and we are left without a blockbuster quarterback rivalry in the league.
However, there is one that could be in its infancy in Carr-Mariota. Just think about the similarities:
- Both have been ranked as among the best quarterbacks in the league
- Both are on AFC teams that are on the rise and are expected to make the playoffs and be contenders for winning their divisions in 2017
- Both had similar passing numbers in 2016
- Carr: 28 TD, 6 INT, 3,937 YDS, 96.7 QB RTG
- Mariota: 26 TD, 9 INT, 3,426 YDS, 95.6 QB RTG
- Both had the help of elite offensive lines last season
- Both of their seasons were cut short near the end of the regular season due to fibula injuries
Given the upward trajectory that each franchise is heading in, more matchups between these two, especially in the postseason, could be on the way soon.
If this does happen, turning this into a full-blown rivalry shouldn’t be an issue. There is a lengthy history between the Raiders and Titans, dating all the way back to the original AFL days in the ’60s when the Titans were still the Houston Oilers. The Raiders also defeated the Titans in the 2002 AFC Championship Game, and Oakland has emerged victorious in Nashville two years in a row against Tennessee.
Carr holds a 2-0 record over Mariota in the NFL, but Mariota emerged victorious the sole time they faced off in college — a 42-25 Oregon win over Fresno State in 2012.
Carr has also gotten the better of Mariota in the stats department in their two NFL meetings:
- Carr: 24/37, 330 YDS, 3 TD, 0 INT
- Mariota: 17/37, 218 YDS, 3 TD, 2 INT
- Carr: 21/35, 249 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT
- Mariota: 17/33, 214 YDS, 0 TD, 2 INT
Both of these games were close affairs. Oakland won 24-21 in 2015 and 17-10 last year. So with the smorgasbord of great games that Week 1 of the season will offer, casual fans should definitely develop an interest in what will be going down in the Music City.
Regardless of the outcome, two of the best, young quarterbacks in the league will be going at it once again to set the tone for the rest of the season. With the Raiders and the Titans both expected to have successful years, the postseason could potentially offer us round two of Carr-Mariota.
Time will determine if both players will have accomplished enough careers and face off in enough decisive games to be worthy of a Brady-Manning type of rivalry, but the foundation is there for this to be the quarterback duel of the future that the NFL needs.