Monday Night Football Schedule 2012: Best Quarterback Matchups

Sebastian LenaAnalyst IOctober 8, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 07:   Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers makes his introduction before their game against the Seattle Seahawks at Bank of America Stadium on October 7, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Who can honestly say they like Mondays?

After spending the majority of Friday celebrating the fact that it is indeed Friday—cue Rebecca Black—the majority of us utilize the weekend as a time for fun and relaxation. The usual backbreaking grind of the 9-5 week is quickly replaced by the likes of sleep, friends, family and a whole lot of football.

But leave it to America’s true pastime—sorry baseball—to solve the buzz kill that had been Mondays.

On September 21, 1970, the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns took part in the first Monday night contest in the NFL’s history.

Since then, Mondays have never been the same.

This year’s edition of Monday Night Football has already provided us with some exciting matchups—most notably the debacle involving the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks.

Week-in and week-out, the Monday Night Football schedule pits the best quarterbacks in the league against one another. Placing the national spotlight on two of the best signal-callers the league has to offer.

After browsing the remainder of the schedule, there are three quarterback matchups that stick out.

The first is the Week 12 matchup between Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers and Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles.

While the Eagles (3-2) and the Panthers (1-4) sit on opposite sides of the table—the Eagles currently lead the NFC East, while the Panthers are tied for last in the NFC South—the battle at quarterback should prove to be an enthralling one.

Since being selected No. 1 overall in the 2001 draft by the Atlanta Falcons, Vick has changed the way coaches have recruited quarterbacks. His scrambling ability gave opposing defenses fits. He currently is the NFL’s career-leader in rushing yards among quarterbacks.

Newton stands a good chance of giving that record a run.

The No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, Newton faced a label as a scrambler from his college days at Auburn. However, he quickly put that stereotype to rest by throwing for 422 yards—becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 400 yards in his regular season debut.

Newton still relied on his legs, rushing for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground.

The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner set 10 NFL rookie records, as well as 12 NFL records last season.

Although both quarterbacks are currently having down years, this matchup pits two similar-styled players against each other for the first time in their careers. It is bound to be a classic.

The next matchup to watch comes the following week, when Eli Manning and the New York Giants visit Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.

Manning is a two-time Super Bowl champion, and is having the best season of his career.

At the pace he is going, Manning is projected to eclipse the 5,000-yard mark through the air and to throw for 32 touchdowns—both would be career-bests.

He has been in sensational form this season, already commanding the Giants to two come-from-behind victories.

Griffin III, on the other hand, is the second-overall pick from this year’s draft.

Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner has translated his stellar playing into the NFL system.

He has been cautious, yet effective, through the air—throwing for 1,161 yards with four touchdowns and only one interception. He currently holds a passer rating of 101.0.

On the ground, he has been dangerous as well, scoring four times on 42 carries for 241 yards.

The only knock on Griffin III is the amount of big hits he’s been subjecting himself too. Most recently, he suffered a big blow against the Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday. He would leave the game with a concussion. It was a play he would have been better off just running out of bounds or throwing it away. The Redskins ended up losing 24-17.

Regardless, Griffin III should be back on the field for the Week 13 duel.  Expect a shootout.

Finally, the third quarterback matchup comes on the final week of the Monday Night Football schedule. The Week 16 matchup features Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, as they take on Matt Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

Ryan is an integral party to why the Falcons are currently sitting pretty at 5-0. His 1,507 yards have him ranked third in the league, while his 13 touchdowns have him ranked second. He has quickly defined himself as one of the elite quarterbacks in the league.

Stafford, on the other hand, is coming off of the best season of his career. Stafford threw for 5,038 yards, with 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions—he ranked third in yards and second in touchdowns. He finished with an impressive 97.2 passer rating.

This season, he’s off to a slow start with only three touchdowns and four interceptions through four games.

In one previous head-to-head matchup, Ryan got the best of Stafford, leading the Falcons to a 23-16 victory.

Neither quarterback really shined.

Ryan completed 20-of-34 passes for 218 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Stafford completed 15-of-32 passes for 183 yards and one touchdown. Stafford would also sustain a leg-injury later on in the game.

Expect both teams to be pushing for playoff births, only adding to what is looking like a great duel between two young quarterbacks.

During the course of the Monday Night Schedule schedule, there will be other quarterback duels that will play out well.

However, these are the three that are sure to stand out.