The Kansas City Chiefs returned to work Wednesday; their leader Quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, is chasing his fourth Super Bowl appearance in six seasons as a starter. To date, he’s 2-1 in the Lombardi chase, and on Sunday against the challenger, Lamar Jackson, he’s chasing immortality, and I can’t bet against him.
It’s the middle of the week, and I’m up to my neck in sports personalities dissing the greatest quarterback of this era of NFL Football. Yet, here we are, the clickbait experts and trolls hammer away at Patrick Mahomes. They say someone other than the AFC quarterback must beat him for the good of the game. Others state that the likely NFL MVP, Lamar Jackson, is miles ahead of Mahomes.
Mahomes has 17 playoff games, two Super Bowl rings, two league MVPs, and a 14-3 record in the postseason. Jackson has a pair of division titles (Mahomes has 6), two likely MVP, and a 2-3 postseason record.
He’s the better quarterback?
The media view is skewed. Mahomes is the greatest quarterback in the game and will become the GOAT. On Sunday, he’s chasing Tom Brady! He’s not trying to prove he’s better than Jackson, Allen, Burrow, or any other AFC quarterback. They aren’t in his league.
Mahomes is about Division Titles, AFC Championship victories, and Super Bowl trophies. Everyone else is about defeating Mahomes at least one time in an AFC title game or Super Bowl. Thus far, only Tom Brady and Joe Burrow have accomplished that feat.
Josh Allen has tried three times. Jackson will get his first shot at Mahomes in the playoffs, and it won’t be easy to match Mahomes’ talent. Yes, Jackson deserves credit for his fantastic season. However, he’s not won anything significant in his NFL career.
This is the biggest game and moment of his NFL career. He’s a phenomenal talent who can run the ball and throw it. He’s challenging, physical, and magical with the football. What he is not is excellent under duress on the field. Like any quarterback, Jackson will make game-changing mistakes if a defense can collapse the pocket.
The Ravens haven’t hosted the AFC Championship game since the Ray Lewis days. On Sunday in M&T Bank Stadium, Mahomes intends to rob the bank, take his loot, and go to Las Vegas to face either the San Francisco 49ers or the Detroit Lions with the intent of getting his third ring.
The Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs are the best defensive teams in the AFC. They’ll go head-to-head; whichever unit plays the best will likely decide the winner. If the Chiefs can confuse Jackson, he’ll have a long day. However, the Ravens will have to show looks Mahomes hasn’t seen.
Where they have the advantage defensively is their ability to swarm the ball with numerous bodies. They have an innate instinct to come together to stop the big play. Thus, Mahomes must elevate his game to a level the Ravens aren’t respecting.
I get the Ravens players are confident, but let’s be honest, they didn’t want to face the Chiefs. They know their young, talented quarterback can defeat Mahomes, but they don’t know if he can pull it off Sunday. Mahomes has proven he can beat anyone at home or on the road.
The teams have faced each other three times. Mahomes is 2-1 against Jackson, including one of those victories in Baltimore. Yet, that win was during the Covid year and was a no-contest blowout by the Chiefs. Their other win came in Kansas City, thanks to the Mahomes to Tyreek Hill fourth down, hail marry that gave Mahomes one of the biggest wins of his career.
To date, we really can’t say that about Jackson. He crushed opposing defenses this year, including the Los Angeles Rams at home and the San Francisco 49ers on the road. Those were great wins to secure the top seed in the AFC, but were they career-defining moments?
On Sunday, he has the best chance to dethrone Mahomes for one season. It won’t be easy; ask Josh Allen, who lost to Mahomes in Buffalo in the divisional round.
Mahomes will be ready. He knows the importance of the moment and what is at stake. Even falling behind won’t phase Mahomes one bit. His postseason record when trailing by seven points or more in the playoffs is 8-1. In perspective, the rest of the league is 11-53 in the postseason since he started his first playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts in 2018.
This game has many questions that will be answered, but these two are the biggest.
Will Jackson rise in the moment or wilt as he’s done in the past playoffs? Will Mahomes, after struggling offensively this season, get an 11-6 team to the Super Bowl?
In a few days, we’ll discover how much closer Mahomes can get to Brady on Sunday!