This year’s Super Bowl is being hyped as the best quarterback matchup of all time – Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.
But sometimes the hype doesn’t live up to the reality. This may be the most interesting matchup because it could be a passing of the torch from the best of this generation to probably the best of the next generation.
Still, it doesn’t match Bart Starr vs. Len Dawson in the first Super Bowl or Terry Bradshaw vs. Roger Staubach twice in four years in the 1970s to decide the team of the decade.
In those duels, both quarterbacks were at the top of their games. The Drew Brees-Peyton Manning matchup also featured two HOF QBs in their prime. This Super Bowl is like the old Western movie in which the young gunslinger challenges the old gunfighter.
It is amazing that Brady got here at age 43, but he is no longer in his prime. He threw picks on three consecutive second half drives against Green Bay but the Packers handed the Bucs an easy touchdown with a bad defensive strategy at the end of the first half.
And Packers coach Matt LeFleur took the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands on fourth down with just over two minutes left to take a field goal and cut the deficit from eight to five points. He never got the ball back. And he also went for two too early.
You can’t make mistakes like that against Brady.
Mahomes, by contrast, is just reaching his prime at age 25 in his fourth season. A victory will give him two rings in his first four years just like Brady did, and he will then be shooting to match Brady’s record of winning three in his first five years next year.
He also would be attempting to become the first quarterback to threepeat in the Super Bowl era. Green Bay won three in a row twice in 1929-30-31 and 1965-66-67, but only the last two games were in the Super Bowl era.
Also, a win this year would give Mahomes a realistic shot of matching Brady’s record of six Super Bowl wins over the next decade and a half. After all, Brady won three on his first five years and then didn’t win another one for the next nine years and lost twice to the Giants in that span before adding three more.
Mahomes is obviously the better of the two quarterbacks at this point. Which is why two-thirds of the betting action is on Kansas City covering the three-point spread.
Still, the Chiefs have a beat-up line after losing tackle Eric Fisher last week and the Bucs have a good rushing line and can put a lot of pressure on Mahomes.
And being the better quarterback in the Super Bowl doesn’t guarantee success. Walterfootball.com notes that in the Brady era, the better quarterback is only 5-12 against the spread in the Super Bowl.
And Brady lost to Eli Manning twice and once to Nick Foles even though he was the better quarterback. And he beat Kurt Warner in his first Super Bowl when Warner was better at that point.
Brady also didn’t cover the spread against Jake Delhomme or Donovan McNabb although he won both games. And if Mahomes loses this one, he is not likely to challenge the GOAT. He would be trailing Brady 7-1 in Super Bowls rather than 6-2. Winning six more would be more daunting than four more.
So, this is a Super Bowl about what the legacy of both quarterbacks will be.
If Mahomes is going to someday be remembered as good as or even better than Brady, he has to win this game. Brady will still be the GOAT of his time even if he loses but a 6-4 Super Bowl record wouldn’t be as impressive as a 7-3 mark.
It may not be the best quarterback matchup, but this game is still all about Mahomes and Brady.