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Why Geno Smith and EJ Manuel Will Enjoy One of NFL's Best QB Rivalries

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 22: Quarterback Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets and quarterback EJ Manuel #3 of the Buffalo Bills talk at the end of the Jets 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 22, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)
Aidan MackieSenior Analyst INovember 12, 2013

Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady.

Tony Romo vs. Eli Manning

Matt Ryan vs. Drew Brees.

Geno Smith vs. EJ Manuel?

The two rookie quarterbacks have all the makings of future stars in this league, and they look primed to form an intense rivalry with each other for years to come. 

Smith got the better of Manuel in the quarterbacks' first meeting, as he tossed multiple touchdown passes and led the New York Jets to a 27-20 win. However, Manuel will look to even things up this Sunday, as the Jets and Bills will face off in Buffalo. 

With the duo set to lead their teams into the big divisional showdown this weekend, here are three reasons why Smith vs. Manuel will be one of the most entertaining quarterback rivalries for years to come. 

 

They Will Always Be Compared to One Another

Manuel and Smith were the top two quarterbacks taken in the 2013 NFL draft. It is that reason why they will never be able to escape being compared to one another. 

Smith was widely considered the best quarterback in the class, but the Bills ultimately pulled the trigger on Manuel in the middle of the first round. Smith fell all the way to the middle of the second round. 

Did the Bills make the right decision by forgoing on Smith and selecting Manuel?

That question is difficult to answer right now, but each player's performances in the next few seasons will shed some light on it. 

Halfway through their rookie seasons, both quarterbacks have been solid in their own right. While Manuel has been better in the individual statistics department, Smith has his team in playoff contention. 

This Sunday could also go a long way to settling the debate over which quarterback should have been taken first.

 

Sep 22, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;  Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) carries the ball during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

They Play in the Same Division

Not only were both quarterbacks taken in the first two rounds of the same draft out of big-time colleges, they also play in the same division. 

That means Manuel and Smith will likely be seeing each other twice a year for years to come. 

Smith's performances will significantly affect Manuel's, and vice versa. With Tom Brady edging closer and close to retirement and Ryan Tannehill being beaten up behind an awful Miami offensive line, Smith and Manuel could be the premier signal-callers in the AFC East. 

That means that Manuel and Smith may have divisional titles and playoff berths on the line when they meet in the near future. Even this Sunday, the game will have significant playoff ramifications for the Jets. If Smith can lead New York to a victory, Gang Green will be in prime position to claim a postseason berth. However, if Manuel and the Bills play spoiler, the Jets' playoff hopes will take a serious hit.

 

They Have Both Shown the Ability to Be Great 

Most importantly, the two quarterbacks both look like they have a serious future in this league. 

Smith has shown the ability to evade pass-rushers and create plays with his feet, make any throw from the pocket and come up big in the clutch. Manuel has shown much of the same.

Although neither quarterback's individual stats jump off the page in the way Russell Wilson's and RG3's did last year, the two have had a great deal of success with their respective teams, despite having limited offensive weapons to throw the ball to.

Manuel has led a subpar Bills team to a couple of big wins and kept them competitive against superior opponents. Smith has been an integral part to New York's surprising 5-4 start. 

Smith and Manuel are capable of being the faces of their respective franchises, and they have inspired hope in their struggling fanbases. 

The next great quarterback rivalry is here.

And its second phase begins Sunday. 

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