Patrick Mahomes vs Tom Brady is greatest matchup in Super Bowl history
In Super Bowl LV, when the Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the eyes of the football world will be centered on the quest for the Lombardi Trophy. The teams will go into battle and, after 60 minutes, one will celebrate reaching football’s highest summit while the other will enter their offseason disappointed, stung by the conclusion of the most unique season in NFL history.
To be sure, the narratives surrounding the game are obviously fair ones:
Can Kansas City become the first team since (ironically) Brady’s Patriots in 2004 to win back-to-back Super Bowls? Can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in their first year with a new quarterback and vastly changed team, go all the way?
Kansas City has suffered several injuries along the offensive line—just one player from their Week 1 lineup will start the Super Bowl in the same position (center Austin Reiter) as they opened the season. (Andrew Wylie will start, but at tackle instead of guard, it appears). Will those injuries, facing the excellent pass rush from the Bucs, doom the Chiefs?
In their Week 13 matchup, wide receiver Tyreek Hill torched the Tampa Bay secondary for over 200 receiving yards in the first quarter, after which the Bucs adjusted their strategy and held down the high-powered Chiefs offense much of the rest of the way. How will defense coordinator Todd Bowles approach the defensive game plan this time around?
The matchup of Mahomes vs Brady is the biggest in Super Bowl history.
The Chiefs secondary has played their best football of the season, and the best in the NFL, over the last few weeks. The Bucs offense has scored over 30 points per game for six consecutive contests. Which trend ends when it’s all on the line?
In their seven consecutive victories since losing to the Chiefs, Tampa has blitzed the opposing quarterback more than any other team in the NFL over that time. Will they continue that strategy against Mahomes, who has the highest passer rating against the blitz of any quarterback in the league?
Another big storyline is how COVID impacts the game. The Chiefs will delay their travel to the host city until Friday, and subsequently will be on a different schedule this week than they otherwise would be. This, of course, is magnified by the fact that the Bucs will be the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Will this travel disparity impact the outcome?
And of course, there are the prop bets! Who will win the coin toss? How many songs will The Weeknd play in the halftime show?
Lost in the hustle-and-bustle of the buildup to the big game, though, is this: Super Bowl LV will feature the greatest quarterback showdown in history of the Super Bowl. (Sure, there could be arguments here for other matchups, but in 20 or so years, I think we’ll all have reached this same conclusion.)
Brady is going for his seventh Super Bowl win (and already holds the record for the most victories ever); his first away from the New England Patriots and fellow future Hall of Fame head coach Bill Belichick. Mahomes, on the other hand, is working towards ring number two. He and the Chiefs are chasing back-to-back championships. And Mahomes, as will likely be the narrative for the rest of his career, is already chasing Brady.
The fact that two of what could be the greatest quarterbacks of all time will be squaring off for the game’s biggest prize makes us all very lucky sports fans, and we should embrace it.
The context of this particular showdown makes it even more special. Brady engineered the offense in the single biggest loss of Mahomes’ young career. The 25-year-old quarterback has demonstrated the same type of innate competitiveness (sometimes pettiness) that has driven the all-time greats like Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali, Tiger Woods and yes, even Brady. Mahomes would love nothing more than to avenge that loss for Lombardi number two. (And no, the regular season victories over the last two years have done nothing to assuage Mahomes’ drive to win this one.)
Inversely, Mahomes has taken over as the face of the National Football League. Brady rallied the Patriots to their sixth Lombardi Trophy two years ago riding a ‘We’re Still Here” mantra. And, there is no doubt that Brady will be razor-focused on reminding Mahomes, and the rest of the world, that even at 43, he’s still here, that he’s still the man to beat for the title of the greatest.
The stakes could not be higher for either player. CBS Analyst and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo even went so far as to say that this is a legacy defining game for Mahomes, arguing that he must be Brady or “he’ll never catch him”. As mentioned, Brady feels a need to win without Belichick, in hopes of proving that it was never “The Patriot Way” but rather, always “The Brady Way”.
Regardless of the outcome of the game itself, the GOAT versus The Kid in Super Bowl LV will live in infamy for decades to come.
We’re all fans of our favorite teams, and we all want our teams to win, of course. But the argument here is that we should try very hard to enjoy the ride, enjoy the show, and enjoy this matchup, because there is a very real chance we’ll never see anything like it again.