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Patrick Mahomes is (Still) the Best in the World

Football fans and media have become numb to Patrick Mahomes' greatness. Any way you look at it, Patrick Mahomes is better than every other quarterback in the world.

Over the last few years, it has become popular for the national media to say outlandish statements to gain attention. It started with well-known sports personality Skip Bayless saying whatever he wanted without facts to back it up. His wild takes got him a massive amount of attention, so more talking heads followed suit. Recently, the trend is to talk about Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in these statements, mostly comparing Mahomes to other quarterbacks.

Open Twitter and you'll find fans and analysts going as far as to say that [insert name of any other quarterback] is better than Patrick Mahomes. They know that these takes will rile up football fans, specifically Chiefs fans. That’s what these statements exist to accomplish.

But look at every statistic. Look at the film. However you arrive, the truth is clear: Mahomes is head and shoulders above the rest.

Oct 10, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) talks with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) before warm ups at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When comparing athletes, the criteria that people usually use include team success, statistics, and individual accolades. By using those criteria as well as the eye test, you will see why it’s flat-out wrong to say any current quarterback is better than Mahomes.

Ask yourself this; how many other quarterbacks can make this play?

Now, how many have actually done it? With Mahomes, it’s not only that highlight but the countless amount of mind-blowing plays he has made throughout his career. Think of the touchdown throw against the San Francisco 49ers in his first career home start. Or 4th-and-9 against the Baltimore Ravens, the same game where he threw the no-look pass. How about 3rd-and-15 with the Super Bowl on the line? That’s not even scratching the surface of the fantastic plays Mahomes has made throughout the early part of his career. 

Before Mahomes, no quarterback ever hosted four straight conference championship games. Mahomes did it in his first four years as a starter. Even though Alex Smith never took the Chiefs to a championship game, some still argue that Mahomes owes his successes to Andy Reid, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. That argument is fundamentally flawed. Even without Hill, Mahomes thrived.

Feb 3, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15), tight end Travis Kelce (87) and receiver Tyreek Hill (10) pose Nduring AFC practice for the Pro Bowl at Las Vegas Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mahomes has started five games without Hill in the lineup and played three more in which Hill played less than 45% of offensive snaps. In those games, the Chiefs had a 7-1 record, and Mahomes delivered 330 passing yards per game with a passer rating of 110.6 and a completion percentage of 65.7%. Missing your Hall-of-Fame wide receiver and still putting up those numbers is absurd.

No quarterback has elevated its team to more wins above expected than Patrick Mahomes since 2019.

Since Mahomes became the full-time starter in 2018, he is one of only two quarterbacks to start two Super Bowls. The other, of course, is Tom Brady. Mahomes and the Chiefs have faced off against Brady and his teams twice in the postseason. Brady won both matchups, but it wasn’t due to quarterback play. In both games, Mahomes played better than Brady.

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In the 2018 AFC Championship Game, the Chiefs had the lead multiple times in the fourth quarter. Brady even threw the apparent game-sealing interception which should have sent Mahomes and the Chiefs to the Super Bowl, but Dee Ford was offsides. Even after that debacle, with the Chiefs’ back against the wall, Mahomes drove his team into field goal range in less than 30 seconds to send the game into overtime. If that wasn’t enough proof to show Mahomes’ clutch gene and greatness, we saw him do it again in last year's playoffs. In the divisional round against the Buffalo Bills, Mahomes set the Chiefs up for a game-tying field goal in just 13 seconds.

Brady is the only other quarterback that can compete with Mahomes when it comes to postseason success, but he doesn’t have the individual accolades and statistics to compete with Mahomes. Mahomes has thrown for more yards, more touchdowns, and fewer interceptions than Tom Brady over the last few years. In any statistic, counting or advanced, Mahomes outperforms Brady.

Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (left) greets Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes following Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers is the anti-Brady when it comes to the argument with Mahomes. Rodgers is the only quarterback who can compete with the individual accolades and statistics Mahomes has since 2018. Rodgers has two league MVPs and First-Team All-Pro nods over Mahomes, but he hasn’t had the postseason success over the past few years. Rodgers has had two playoff wins since 2018 while Mahomes only has one season where he didn’t win at least two playoff games.

I believe that team success is a huge part of judging a player’s greatness. We see that in every debate on how a certain athlete can elevate his teammates. Above you saw how Mahomes is the quarterback with the most wins over expected, showing off his greatness in that metric. This is why it's laughable to include Justin Herbert in Mahomes's stratosphere. Herbert is great, and people point to the Chargers' defense as to why Herbert hasn’t made the playoffs. But examine the Chiefs and Chargers defenses during the sophomore season of their franchise quarterbacks:

2018 Chiefs defense: .074 EPA/play allowed, 26.3 PPG, 5.9 yards/play, 7.7% DVOA 
2021 Chargers defense: .044 EPA/play allowed, 27 PPG, 5.6 yards/play, 4.8% DVOA

Dec 16, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) moves the ball under pressure from Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Nick Bolton (54) during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Naysayers will point to Mahomes’ 2021 campaign as to why he’s no longer at the top of the quarterback rankings. They're wrong. Using advanced statistics like in the graph below, you can see that Mahomes’s best is miles better than other quarterbacks’ best, and the worst of Mahomes still outperforms the rest.

Comparing historical trailing EPA (expected points added) for young quarterbacks, via @KevinColePFF on Twitter.

The most frustrating Mahomes narrative may have started following the aforementioned 13-seconds-or-less barnburner between the Chiefs and Bills in January's playoffs. Both Allen and Mahomes played phenomenal in that game, but the Chiefs came out on top. That gets put on the Bills' defense, yet they were the top-ranked defense in the league, and Mahomes torched them. He gets less credit for tearing apart the No. 1 defense than Allen does for throwing wide-open touchdowns due to blown coverages. This is not to downplay what Allen did — he was flat-out incredible — but when you pair Mahomes's performance with his own team's mistakes and shortcomings, it makes what Mahomes did that night even more impressive.

The Chiefs missed a field goal and an extra point. Hill was tackled by the punter on a punt return. Reid called an option play with a tight end on a critical 3rd down. It didn't matter. Kansas City had Mahomes.

No matter how you slice it, Mahomes is head and shoulders above the competition. No other quarterback comes close to what Mahomes has done during the first four years of his career.

Patrick Mahomes rankings since 2018

  • Adjusted EPA/play: 1st (.305) 
  • EPA/play: 1st (.294) 
  • QB Rating: 1st (106.2) 
  • Yards/Attempt: 1st (8.1) 
  • Yards/Game: 1st (301.73) 
  • Passing Touchdowns/Game: 1st (2.44) 
  • Win Percentage: 1st (79.03%) 
  • Super Bowl Wins: 2nd (1) 
  • Super Bowl MVPs: 1st (1) 
  • League MVPs: 2nd (1) 
  • Pro Bowls: 1st (4) 
  • 1st Team All-Pros: 2nd (1) 
  • 2nd Team All-Pros: 1st (1) 
  • Offensive Player of The Year Awards: 1st (1) 
  • Playoff Wins: 1st (8) 
  • Super Bowl Appearances: 1st (2) 
  • Conference Championship Game Appearances: 1st (4) 
  • Playoff QB Rating: 2nd (105.7) 
  • Playoff Yards/Attempt: 1st (8) 
  • Playoff Yards/Game: 1st (307.36) 
  • Playoff Passing Touchdowns/Game: 1st (2.55)

Instead of using Patrick Mahomes for arguments and attention, appreciate what we are witnessing. Don't become numb to Mahomes's greatness. Recognize and enjoy the fact that we are witnessing the best player in the world.