Patrick Mahomes may be the best in the NFL, but can he become the greatest?

In his two seasons as a starter, Patrick Mahomes has gone 12-4 in both (including missing 2 games with injury) and he is 3-1 overall in the playoffs. That is nine career losses for Mahomes. The Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders lost that many games this year alone, obviously without making it to the playoffs. In fact, half of the NFL teams this season lost nine or more games. Last season Patrick Mahomes capped off the year with a league MVP trophy. This year, he is hoping to get a bigger trophy. This Sunday he will face off against Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV and with a win, Mahomes can be added to the list of all-time great quarterbacks.

Clearly Patrick Mahomes has made the case that he is the best quarterback in the NFL right now. Lamar Jackson is fast, flashy, and fun to watch but he hasn’t even won a playoff game yet. Deshaun Watson has the athletic ability but is too inconsistent as a passer to be considered on the same level as Mahomes, and even though they had great careers, Brady, Brees, and Rodgers are all past their prime. So that just leaves 15. He’s the best in the game right now. But can he become the greatest of all-time? A win on Sunday would certainly be a push in the right direction.

Guys like Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, and Johnny Unitas all come to mind when you think about the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Unitas was the first real superstar quarterback. Before there ever was a Super Bowl, Unitas had won 2 NFL Championships in 1958 and 1959. He played in Super Bowl III losing to Broadway Joe Namath and he won Super Bowl V over the Dallas Cowboys. He won the NFL MVP three times which is a lot for any player but not as many as Peyton Manning. Manning has won NFL MVP five times and is a two-time Super Bowl champion. He currently holds the NFL record for most passing touchdowns in a season (55) and most passing yards in a season (5,477). Records and league MVPs are great, but they don’t beat rings. Manning and Unitas don’t have near as many rings as Joe Montana. Montana has won the Super Bowl four times. He was the MVP in three of those games and has the NFL record for average quarterback rating in the Super Bowl with 127.8. He was big when it counted most. That also sounds like Patrick Mahomes. In four playoff games, Mahomes has 13 total touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 115 and is averaging 300 yards per game. If we’re talking about Peyton’s touchdowns and yards per season, then Patrick is on that level too. In his first season as a starter, Mahomes threw for 50 touchdowns and over 5000 yards. No one has done both of those in the same year ever. What about league MVPs? Mahomes won it last year and he was only 23 years old. So, all he is missing is a ring and come Sunday he might just get it.

Now Patriot fans reading this may be spitting out their clam chowder in disgust, saying “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Mahomes will never come close to Brady! He has six rings!” (That’s the only reason they know how to count to six) They are right though, for now. However, let’s take a look at the similarities of how the Brady era started and how the Mahomes era is going. Tom Brady took over as the starting quarterback for the Patriots in his second season in the league, much like Mahomes did. Brady went 11-3 as a starter while Mahomes was 12-4. The difference in their first year as starters is that Tom Brady won the Super Bowl in his first year, while Patrick Mahomes fell short in the AFC Championship game ironically to Tom Brady. Well, that settles it right? Wrong. In Tom Brady’s second season, he went 9-7 and failed to make the playoffs. Mahomes doesn’t know what that’s like since he went 12-4 again and finished the deal in the AFC Championship game. With a win on Sunday, he’ll have just as many Super Bowl wins as Brady in the same amount of time. But wait, there’s more. Patrick Mahomes will also have a league MVP under his belt. Tom Brady didn’t win NFL MVP until he was 30.

Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time. For now. If Patrick Mahomes wins on Sunday, he will be starting his career at a faster pace than Brady did. He’ll have the wins, the accolades, and a career’s worth of highlights wrapped up in two seasons. Will he win six Super Bowls? Maybe. Will he win several more MVPs? Probably. Can he be the greatest quarterback of all-time? Absolutely.