In the final stretch of the season, a win against “Tompa” Bay would almost guarantee Mahomes his second MVP title in three years.
With week 11 in the books, the NFL is entering the final quarter of the season and, per usual, there are plenty of arguments happening around the sports world revolving around who is in the MVP race and, more importantly, who is winning that race.
While many of the players being mentioned have earned their right to have a fighting chance at the trophy, there doesn’t seem to be one that has shown why they should rightfully be considered above KC’s prodigal son.
Some honorary nominees started off on a heater and seemingly came onto the scene out of nowhere, only to dissipate back into another quarterback who could work on multiple aspects of their game (i.e. Josh Allen & Kyler Murray). Some have stayed consistent, other than one or two bad games, and stayed somewhat under the radar while simultaneously accumulating massive stat numbers and recognition (i.e. Aaron Rodgers). And others have made a big splash in most of their games but then when their team needed them most, and against division rivals, they fell short (i.e. Tom Brady & Russell Wilson).
Patrick Mahomes has not committed any of these faults so far this season. Did he have a bad game in week 5 against the Raiders? Sure, if you call 340 yards and two TDs on just 22 completions a bad game. But other than his one loss in the last 381 days, can anyone say that Mahomes hasn’t been anything short of perfect?
In fact, Mahomes stats show just how close to perfect he is compared to what else the NFL has to offer in the form of an MVP-caliber QB:
- Josh Allen – 2871 yds., 21 TDs, 7 INTs, 68.4 CMP% and a QBR of 77.4.
- Aaron Rodgers – 2889 yds., 29 TDs, 4 INTs, 68.2 CMP% and a QBR of 83.8.
- Kyler Murray – 2,644 yds., 29 TDs, 8 INTs, 68.3 CMP% and a QBR=74.0.
- Russell Wilson – 2986 yds., 30 TDs, 10 INTs, 70.7 CMP% and a QBR of 72.8.
- Ben Roethlisberger – 2534 yds., 24 TDs, 5 INTs, 67.1 CMP% and a QBR of 66.4.
- Tom Brady – 2955 yds., 25 TDS, 9 INTs, 64.7 CMP% and a QBR of 70.3.
Compared to Mahomes who has…3035 yds (league-high), 27 passing TDs & 2 rushing TDs, just 2 INTs (2nd best passing TD::INT ratio in NFL history), a 67.9% Completion % and a league-leading QBR of 85.3. (All statistics according to Pro Football Reference)
These numbers alone should be enough for an MVP award compared to the competition and what Mahomes has done throughout the season that they obviously cannot do. But Mahomes still has more work to do, he still has to go against the two QBs with the most TDs in NFL history and their stacked defenses, which have been reliable, to say the least.
Mahomes doesn’t care about regular season MVP though, he cares about the other MVP trophy which he already has one of, and to get to that coveted trophy he must go through Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday.
Beating Brady has become somewhat of an achievement for many players in their careers, Peyton Manning was 6-11 throughout his career against Brady, Drew Brees is 5-3 after their two most recent wins over the Bucs this season (marking the first time Brady has ever been swept by a division opponent in a season), and Mahomes is (so far) 1-2 with one of the losses coming in the 2018 AFC Championship game.
While this game has been hyped up all season as the ‘Battle of the GOATs’ it also seems to now hold significant weight in the MVP conversation, which could become almost nonexistent if Mahomes pulls out the victory Sunday afternoon. Mahomes already leads the league in Pro Bowl votes and, most likely, will lead the league in MVP votes at the end of the year, but a win over the six-time Super Bowl champion and his new team in his new stadium would almost completely seal the deal.
So far this season the MVP race has seemed to quietly trickle down to Mahomes after Allen, Brady, Wilson, and (to an extent) Dalvin Cook all have had their glistening moments, which is insane considering how much Mahomes has done and how easy it is for him to retain the same consistency and numbers that he seems to put up almost effortlessly.
But still, the focus for Mahomes is always “the next game” and that game just happens to be in Tampa Bay against one of, if not the, toughest defenses they’ve had to go against since Super Bowl LIV in February. Tampa’s defense has been one of the constant shining lights of the team, coming into this game second in forced turnovers (19) and third in sacks (32), and they look to continue their streak of 10 straight games with a turnover.
This game against “Tompa” Bay comes on the heels of a very close game against Las Vegas on Sunday where Mahomes threw just his second interception of the season–it’s week 12 by the way–and the 7-4 Buccaneers have been teetering between exceptional games and disastrous games, so which Bucs will the Chiefs face Sunday?
No matter which team shows up, the Bucs that dominated Green Bay 38-10 or the Bucs that got blown out 38-3 against the Saints, this could very likely be the last time that Mahomes and Brady face-off unless Brady plays four more years in Tampa, switches conferences once again, or meets him in the Super Bowl.
If Mahomes can do what he’s done up to this point in his career, he will have the better chance of evening his record against Brady at 2-2, no matter which Chiefs defense decides to take the field Sunday–though, hopefully not the one that couldn’t accumulate a sack or any pressure against Las Vegas last week. If Mahomes can pull out the victory, even up his record, and walk back into Arrowhead 10-1 he’ll have to be deemed the obvious heir for the MVP crown until someone somehow dethrones him (if that’s even possible this late in the season).
Mahomes has plenty of statistics on his side leading up to what could be his final game against Brady, namely the Chiefs are a perfect 5-0 on opposing teams’ fields this season. Mahomes also has the best TD-INT ratio in the league and can break the record previously set by Brady in 2016 if he throws two more touchdowns without tossing another interception.
There are factors that contribute to Tampa’s chances as well though, one of which being they lead the league in red-zone touchdowns and are second (behind KC) in passing yards on the season. Their defense, which has forced multiple turnovers in seven games, is stout and should not be underestimated by Reid, Bieniemy, or Mahomes because Todd Bowles and Bruce Arians are experienced enough to know how to expose teams when opportunities arise.
Both teams have explosive offenses, both have talented depth at wide receiver, and both have skilled young running backs with experienced backups in the forms of KC’s Le’Veon Bell and Tampa’s Leonard Fournette. One has a consistent defense creating multiple turnovers weekly while the other has become less and less scary over the past three weeks–even with the addition of Deandre Baker it is tough to see this defense holding Brady below 17.8 points (KC’s average ppg allowed against teams outside of Las Vegas).
While KC’s defense has been less-than-great as of late, it’s important to note that Tyrann Mathieu, Chris Jones, and other defensive players have heard the collective trash talk and some even decided to respond to tweets after the close victory over Las Vegas, which could mean heightened motivation coming into Tampa. It is also important to remember that the Chiefs have Steve Spagnuolo as their defensive coordinator, a man who led the Giants defense to Super Bowl victory over the then 18-0 Patriots as well as the Chiefs defense in a week 14 victory over Tom Brady last season–the man is a Brady-Beater, it’s in his bones.
While Tampa Bay has won the last five meetings between themselves and Kansas City, there has yet to be a matchup where Mahomes or Brady have shown their faces for the respective teams. And although Tampa is 7-5 all-time against Kansas City there seems to be a bright future for the Chiefs to rectify that and any other losing record against an opponent for the upcoming future.
And if the Chiefs walk out of Tampa Bay with a victory they might as well give Mahomes the MVP trophy on the way out of Florida.