Breaking Down the Best QB Matchups of the 2012 NFL Season

Brandon AlisogluCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2012

Breaking Down the Best QB Matchups of the 2012 NFL Season

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    Every day that passes brings the 2012 NFL season one step closer. So what better way to pass the time than to prepare for the quarterback duels that we're drooling over?

    In one corner, Eli Manning is looking to keep his crown as the clutch king. In the other, Tony Romo wants to pull a LeBron James and shed the choker image. 

    Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers can add to his MVP trophy collection, while Jay Cutler wants to show he's matured into a complete player. 

    There are plenty of quarterbacks that are looking to reclaim their spot or advance into a new one.

    Somebody ring the bell. 

Week 1: Tony Romo vs. Eli Manning

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    Amani Toomer has turned up the heat on his former teammate.

    On The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York 98.7 FM, he made no bones about declaring Tony Romo the superior quarterback when compared with Eli Manning (per ESPN.com).

    When confronted with Romo's late-game follies, he waffled slightly and admitted that Eli was better in the clutch. But he'd still take Romo to be his quarterback.

    People give the edge to Manning because of his two Super Bowl rings. The Dallas Cowboys haven't recently enjoyed the same success as the Giants, but Toomer isn't wrong.

    The NFL did well to kick off the season with this classic rivalry. The game will certainly be entertaining and will come down to Dallas' ability to slow down New York's defensive line.

    That's no simple task.

    Regardless, the offensive line will do its job well enough for Romo to edge Eli in passing yards and touchdowns. More importantly, the Cowboys will squeak out a hard-fought win.

Week 2: Jay Cutler vs. Aaron Rodgers

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    Week 2 will bring a conflict between two quarterbacks that don't lack for confidence.

    Then again, when you can sling the rock like Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler, who would?

    Cutler is finally surrounded by toys worthy of competing with the Green Bay Packers.

    The ability to go deep with Brandon Marshall and salt away games with a combo of Matt Forte and Michael Bush makes the Chicago Bears a Super Bowl candidate. 

    Rodgers will keep the Pack in the game, but the Bears' balance will rule the day. 

Week 4: Drew Brees vs. Aaron Rodgers

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    Aaron Rodgers won't have to wait long to exact revenge on a fellow MVP candidate.

    Drew Brees will be the one forced to pay the fiddler. 

    The Green Bay Packers welcome the New Orleans Saints in Week 4. By that time, the teams' seasons will be starting to round into shape, and we'll know where both squads are likely headed.

    Unfortunately for Brees, he will not be able to quickly lift the Saints out of the scrum they find themselves in. 

    Conversely, Rodgers is in a rather comfy situation, has all of his weapons returning, and the only offseason concern is the sting of a playoff loss. 

    Sometimes, the analysis is as simple as acknowledging a lack of distractions versus a tidal wave of adversity. 

Week 5: Michael Vick vs. Ben Roethlisberger

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    The Battle for Pennsylvania will showcase two of the most polarizing players in the NFL. Whether you love them or hate them, it's undeniable that Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick are two of the NFL's more capable signal-callers.

    The Philadelphia Eagles found their stride late last year by reeling off four straight wins. The preseason buzz seemed to swallow the team whole, but the Eagles should be just fine playing football now.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers were built in a more traditional fashion and just keep chugging along. 

    Coincidentally, the difference in this game will center more on the running game. LeSean McCoy is motivated by living up to his recent contract extension. The Steelers will be forced to rely on backups until Rashard Mendenhall returns. 

Week 8: Drew Brees vs. Peyton Manning

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    Drew Brees should provide counseling for Peyton Manning. Nobody understands Peyton's saga of being pushed aside while in your prime for a younger talent better than him.

    Besides, the therapeutic relationship will come in handy after these two meet on the field. 

    Manning has undoubtedly been working day and night to transform the Denver Broncos into an offensive juggernaut. This will take time and probably another wide receiver. 

    Meanwhile, the defense is improving but isn't on a stopping-the-Saints-once-Brees-hits-his-stride level. Brees will find the holes necessary to outgun his counterpart. 

Week 9: Cam Newton vs. Robert Griffin III

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    Week 9 will provide the most versatile quarterback battle of the season. 

    Cam Newton already has proven he can get it done through the air and on the ground. His feet and arm combined for 35 touchdowns during his rookie campaign.

    Robert Griffin III is half of the most ballyhooed rookie quarterback duo in NFL history. Throughout his time at Baylor, RG3 proved an adept dual threat with 78 passing touchdowns and 33 rushing. 

    The last two Heisman winners will put on a show, with Newton showing the rookie new tricks that Griffin has yet to learn. 

Week 11: Philip Rivers vs. Peyton Manning

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    Much like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning won't have to let his Drew Brees-inspired disappointment linger.

    After 10 weeks of leading the Denver Broncos, Manning will have made a star of Demaryius Thomas. Thomas has the speed to blow the top off of secondaries and provide space for others.

    Philip Rivers had a rough 2011 season. He still had 4,624 passing yards, but he threw 20 interceptions against 27 touchdowns. 

    Rivers will return to his norm in 2012. What he lost in Vincent Jackson will be made up for by the additions of Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem. 

    Manning isn't going to get his revenge this game. It's just that now his pain will be inflicted by Rivers as opposed to Brees. 

Week 13: Andrew Luck vs. Matthew Stafford

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    The similarities between Andrew Luck's situation and Matthew Stafford's begin and end with being the top overall pick in the draft. 

    The Indianapolis Colts were dreadful last season but have been one of the best teams of the last decade. The Detroit Lions went 0-16 the season prior to Stafford's selection and had run their playoff drought to 10 years.

    Luck is replacing a living legend. Stafford replaced Daunte Culpepper.

    However, both guys have a ridiculous amount of talent.

    Stafford burst into the top-tier quarterback discussion in 2011 with over 5,000 yards passing and 41 touchdowns. 

    Luck will perform admirably. Stafford will play phenomenally and take round one. 

Week 14: Matt Schaub vs. Tom Brady

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    The Houston Texans might have been the best team in the league last year if Matt Schaub stayed healthy.

    Their young defense came into its own, and Arian Foster proved himself to be the most reliable running back in the league.

    Tom Brady doesn't require too much of an introduction. The New England Patriots star has done everything in his career and seems destined for another great season with his new wide receiver depth.

    Both squads will be battling for home-field advantage. Brady will put up better numbers, but Houston's hunger will carry it on Monday night.

Week 15: Eli Manning vs. Matt Ryan

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    Matt Ryan must have nightmares about Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. Those three made life difficult for Ryan as they ended the Atlanta Falcons' season.

    Ryan will have a chance to exercise some demons and get his confidence going heading into the postseason. Or prove to Falcons management that it needs to invest more heavily in the offensive line.

    Eli Manning and the New York Giants will likely be fighting for a playoff spot as well. The depleted wide receiver corps and the presence of Brent Grimes will make things difficult for Manning.

    Advantage Ryan.