Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes. The greatest quarterback in National Football League history vs. The greatest quarterback in the National Football League today. I’m not sure a script could better play out the passing of the torch moment in professional sports. This isn’t to say this will be Tom Brady’s last game – in fact, he’s under contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for at least another season, and I’m not sure the Bucs want to incur a $25 million dead money cap hit. And it doesn’t look like Brady has any desire to stop playing any time soon. This should be one of the greatest championship games of all-time.
But what’s the more exciting aspect of this game when one doesn’t have any skin in the game? Is it purely about the football being played on the field? Or is it about what wagers one can make to cash-in?
Kansas City are firm favorites for Super Bowl 55 despite going head-to-head with the greatest of all-time. Of course, Mahomes isn’t directly competing against Brady, he’s competing against a much-improved Bucs defense. However, the Chiefs have faced multiple great defenses this season and have made them look rather pedestrian – look no further than the AFC Championship Game where they scored 38 points against a top-five defense. The Bucs are statistically a top-10 defense in the league, but I doubt they somehow can find an answer for Mahomes if better defensive teams haven’t been able to. While Brady may be able to put up some points against this Chiefs defense, if this game turns into a shootout, the money’s got to be on Mahomes.
If Mahomes can will his team to a victory on Sunday night, he’ll become only the third-ever quarterback to defeat Brady in football’s biggest game. Of course, the other two are Eli Manning (twice) and Mr. “Philly Philly” himself, Nick Foles. With already one Super Bowl championship under his belt, beating the greatest of all-time will certainly etch his name into football immortality at only 25 years old. Mahomes could actually wind up fighting Brady for the title greatest of all-time if he continues his monster success and stays healthy for at least ten more years.
Mahomes is unlike any other quarterback we’ve seen play at the position. Some of the injuries he’s suffered the past couple of years always looked like they’d keep him out for the rest of the season, but he’s found his way back onto the field, luckily escaping serious injury. For the Buccaneers to have a chance to pull off the upset, the defense is going to have to make Mahomes uncomfortable inside and outside of the pocket, something no defense has yet been able to do consistently enough.
The Buccaneers became a top-five Super Bowl contender after signing Brady, leaving many to scoff at the notion one player would make such a difference. However, the Bucs had the likes of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin already, making it much easier for Brady to acclimate himself to that offense under Bruce Arians. Later, the Bucs added Antonio Brown, one of Brady’s top targets during his short stint in New England.
One thing is for sure – it’s going to be one hell of a game. Whoever wins Sunday night will truly have earned it in this crazy pandemic-laden season.