Patrick Mahomes eyes Dan Marino’s six-season touchdown mark

Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has a chance at setting a new mark for most touchdown passes through six seasons.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has already had a stellar, record-setting start to his NFL career, and a tweet from NFL Network’s James Palmer earlier this month drew attention to another record that could be within Mahomes’ reach this season.

Palmer’s tweet notes that Dan Marino holds the record for the most touchdown passes thrown in a player’s first six seasons with 196. Mahomes, in his first five seasons, has thrown for 151 touchdowns, meaning he needs 46 this season in order to surpass Marino’s record.

So, could he do it? The simple answer is yes. Mahomes has already thrown for more than 46 TDs in a season, back in 2018 when he threw for 50 on his way to winning the MVP. But how likely is he to do it? Throwing 46 TD passes is no simple task. While Mahomes has done it before, the feat has only been achieved seven times in NFL history.

Every Chiefs fan knows that Mahomes is certainly capable of doing it, but what do the numbers say about the likelihood of it happening? Across his four full seasons as a starter, Mahomes has thrown 50, 26, 38, and 37 touchdowns, averaging just shy of 38 per season—well short of the 46 needed to break the record. Mahomes is currently averaging 2.4 TDs per game. Assuming he was to play in every game this season and maintain that average, he would throw 41 TDs— again, coming up short.

What about the teams Mahomes will face in 2022? Do his previous performances against each of his opponents in the upcoming season suggest he could get to the magic 46? Well, depending on how you crunch the numbers, you get different answers.

If you add up the average number of touchdowns Mahomes has thrown against each of the teams Kansas City will face in 2022, he would be expected to throw 41—again, coming up short. However, if you take a more optimistic approach and add up the highest number of touchdowns Mahomes has thrown against each 2022 opponent, while still using his average against the other AFC West teams, his total is exactly 46.

Of course, part of this comparison isn’t quite fair. Mahomes played just one game in his rookie season, putting him at a disadvantage when compared to Marino. The legendary Dolphins QB started 85 games in his first six seasons, while the most games Mahomes could play over the same time frame is 80 – noticeably fewer, even when factoring in the two extra regular-season games in 2021 and 2022.

If you expand Mahomes’ average of 2.4 TDs per game to 85 games to match Marino, he would have 205 TDs, nine more than the record. Unfortunately, that’s not how this particular record will be measured. But it highlights just how impressive an achievement it would be for Mahomes to eclipse Marino’s record in significantly fewer games.

When examining the likelihood of Mahomes reaching the milestone, we also have to consider factors that can’t be measured. It is tough to predict what will happen with Kansas City’s offense this season and what kind of numbers Mahomes could have with a new group. While the Chiefs have lost a huge playmaker in Tyreek Hill, they have also totally rejigged their offense and added new pieces and more depth, things that could actually make KC harder to defend against.

Even without Hill, the additions of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Skyy Moore as well as the return of Daurice Fountain and a potentially reutilized Mecole Hardman could make the Chiefs a lot more dynamic. Throw in the Andy Reid factor too and KC’s offense could be just as potent.

The last factor is of course Mahomes himself. He has shown time and time again that he is capable of the spectacular and we have already seen that 46 touchdowns in a season are something he can achieve. So, will Mahomes get there? The numbers suggest it will be tough, but for me, after already witnessing so much Mahomes magic, I think he will do it.

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