After a 3-4 start, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are winners of eight straight and champions of the AFC West once again.
Overlook Patrick Mahomes at your own peril.
The 2018 NFL MVP and 2019-2020 Super Bowl champion quarterback was 23 for 30 passing for 258 yards on Sunday in the Kansas City Chiefs‘ 36-10 thrashing of the Pittsburgh Steelers without all-world tight end Travis Kelce, who was in COVID-19 protocols. It was the 8th straight win for Kansas City, one that clinched its sixth straight AFC West division title.
The Chiefs suddenly sit atop the whole AFC at 11-4 and are betting favorites to join the 2016-2018 New England Patriots and the 1971-1973 Miami Dolphins as the only teams to ever reach three straight Super Bowls.
Seeing the Chiefs perched atop the conference was viewed as a highly unlikely scenario just two months ago. A feeble 27-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Oct. 24 saw Kansas City slump to an unthinkable 3-4, with a 62.3 QB rating that was a career low at the time. After Week 7, the 26-year-old had thrown for 2,093 yards with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 67.5% of his passes.
For Mahomes’ detractors, this was a slip-up for the second coming of Tom Brady, the signal-caller on what could become a $500 million contract. He hasn’t lost since that October Sunday, throwing for 2,217 yards with 15 TDs to just four picks while completing 64.9% of his throws. He’s been helped by a very strong Chiefs defense that’s allowed more than 17 points just once during this eight-game winning streak, the 34-28 Thursday night thriller over the Los Angeles Chargers.
In what had come to be considered a “down year,” the four-time Pro Bowler is still:
- No. 5 in the NFL with 4,310 passing yards
- No. 2 behind only Tom Brady with 230 of his completions going for first downs
- No. 4 in TD passes with 33
- Tied for No. 4 with three 4th quarter comebacks
- No. 6 with 52 completions of 20+ yards
- No. 7 among QBs with at least 500 attempts with a 66.1% completion rate
- No. 7 with a 59.1 QBR
- No. 7 with nine completions of 40+ yards
Most quarterbacks would kill for those stats, but Mahomes is obviously no mere mortal.
He’s still off to one of the best starts to a career of anyone in league history with the best start to a career in terms of personal achievement and team success since TB12 himself. The Texas Tech product became just the second QB ever to throw for 4,000 yards in four of his first five NFL seasons.
“We have more goals we want to go after, but this was the first one,” Mahomes said after the division-clinching W.
Even with Kelce out and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire hurt, Mahomes threw a pair of TD tosses to Byron Pringle on a night in which he constantly, consistently made those around him better.
“For the past few weeks, he’s playing smarter football, accurate with all his throws, good decision-making,” NBC’s Chris Simms said. “Watch out, the Chiefs are scary again. Shocker.”
Similarly shocking? It wasn’t that long ago that Mahomes was a betting underdog in the neighborhood of +4000 for MVP. Today, he’s still a dark horse, but tied for the fourth-best odds on the board:
Mahomes’ final two games certainly won’t be easy. After throwing for a franchise-record 525 yards in a statement win over Baltimore. Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals host Kansas City next Sunday before the Chiefs visit a Broncos team with everything still to play for on the regular season’s final day.
While other teams and QBs are making more noise— like Burrow, Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert, Rodgers, and Kyler Murray— Mahomes and the Chiefs are once again right where everyone thought they’d be, in position to secure the AFC’s lone bye, with the road to Los Angeles going through Arrowhead Stadium.
Keep underestimating Mahomes and Co. if you insist, but he and the Chiefs are still in great position to be on your TV screen as you romance a cold beverage and a trough of wings with your buddies come Super Bowl Sunday.