While Peyton Manning's meeting with Tom Brady is probably the biggest storyline of this year's NFL conference championship games, Sunday's other quarterback matchup could be just as exciting.
When Cam Newton and Carson Palmer take the field on Sunday, both will be looking to earn a trip to the Super Bowl for the first time in their careers. Both quarterbacks just finished career years: Palmer posted career-bests in passing yards (4,671) and touchdowns (35) this season, while Newton also managed career–highs in touchdown passes (35) and passer rating (99.2). Both are playing largely mistake–free football too, with Palmer throwing 11 interceptions this season and Newton throwing 10, both career–lows in seasons with at least 13 games. Not bad for the supposedly second–tier quarterback matchup of the weekend.
As the Panthers and Cardinals prepare to face off in the NFC Championship Game, here are a few reasons you should be looking forward to Sunday's duel between Newton and Palmer.
First playoff QB matchup between Heisman winners
Thirty-one quarterbacks have won the Heisman Trophy since it became college football’s top honor in 1935, but not once have two of those quarterbacks played each other in the NFL playoffs.
In 2002, Palmer completed 309 of 489 passes for 3,942 passing yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as USC went 11–2 and finished fourth in the final AP poll. Newton dominated college football in his one season at Auburn, leading the Tigers to a 14–0 record and the 2010 BCS National Championship. He finished that season with 2,854 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He may have been even more of a force on the ground, rushing for 1,586 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Only two Heisman–winning quarterbacks have ever won a Super Bowl: Roger Staubach and Jim Plunkett. Barring an injury, one Heisman winner will be quarterbacking a team at Super Bowl 50.
Both were No. 1 draft picks
After stellar college careers, Palmer was taken with the first pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003, while Newton was drafted by the Panthers in 2011.
Cam Newton can thread the needle
Carson Palmer gets to throw to Larry Fitzgerald
....and Michael Floyd
Cam Newton runs like a tailback
Cam Newton doesn't just throw footballs, either
Both quarterbacks are extremely fashionable
Cam Newton knows how to celebrate
Carson Palmer is still working on his celebrations
The Panthers will host the Cardinals at 6:40 p.m. ET on Sunday.