The Kansas City Chiefs are heading to their first Super Bowl in half a century led by the stellar play of their star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. His performances in the playoffs have further elevated his status, with many labeling him as arguably the best player in the NFL. He has been the driving force to what has pushed the Chiefs to a Super Bowl 54 berth. However, Hall of Famer Deion Sanders has held firm to the likely regular-season MVP Lamar Jackson currently holding that mantel.
Patrick Mahomes’ 2019 campaign
Mahomes entered the 2019 season after becoming the youngest MVP in league history behind being the third player ever to pass for 50 touchdown passes in a single season and throwing for nearly 5,100 yards.
Following a hot start to the year with 10 touchdown passes through the first three games, he cooled off a bit while he dealt with injuries that saw a dislocated kneecap force him to miss a pair of games. Despite that, he finished with 4,031 passing yards along with 26 touchdown passes to five interceptions and a 105.3 passer rating.
Mahomes has turned it up a notch in the playoffs as he has helped the Chiefs make double-digit comebacks in both playoff games leading to a Super Bowl berth. During that span, he has thrown for 615 yards with eight touchdowns to zero interceptions.
That saw him tie Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (11) for most passing touchdowns through his first four career playoff games. Mahomes also became the third player ever to win an MVP and make the Super Bowl in his first three seasons, joining Warner and Dan Marino. All of that seemingly hasn’t budged Sanders from his firm stance.
Deion Sanders’ strong stance with Lamar Jackson
Mahomes has taken another significant step in his career by leading the Chiefs to the Super Bowl with a matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
In NFL Network’s NFL GameDay Prime show that has aired after every Sunday after during the season, Sanders didn’t embrace the idea of putting the Chiefs star quarterback over Jackson as the league’s best player.
“Patrick Mahomes is really really really good, but when you say the best player in the NFL you got to hit the brakes on that…I am not going to bias because we just witnessed his greatness and excellence. He just played…Lamar Jackson had the whole darn team on his back. He doesn’t have the plethora of wide receivers that (Mahomes) features.”
Sanders does make a valid point that there is some recency bias given that Mahomes is still playing in the playoffs. If Jackson had advanced to this point in the postseason, the conversation could be much different. It’s also putting in the backseat the type of season that he just put together that saw him lead the league’s highest-scoring offense behind becoming the first player to pass for 30 touchdowns and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.
Jackson has indeed marked his territory in the conversation, but so has Mahomes, which all makes for some great debate over these two incredibly talented quarterbacks.
Patrick Mahomes’ prime opportunity ahead
Regardless of what Mahomes does in the Super Bowl, it appears that Sanders is still set Jackson being the league’s best player.
It doesn’t take away from the chance for the 24-year-old to add a significant piece to his legacy if he can lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl win that could feature winning the Super Bowl MVP award. The challenge will be steep against the 49ers’ stout defense and balanced offense.
The table is set for Mahomes to accomplish a major feat that several of the league’s greatest players at the position were unable to do, especially at this stage of their careers.