Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press
The storylines write themselves.
The old guard vs. the new. The GOAT vs. the challenger to the throne. The 43-year-old with six titles and 10 Super Bowl appearances vs. the 25-year-old who has already been a champion and an MVP and is playing in his second straight Super Bowl.
Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes. You don’t want to miss it.
Yeah, sure, there are other players in this year’s Super Bowl, too. But let’s be honest. We all know that for the next two weeks, most of the talk is going to be about the two quarterbacks.
Let’s dig a little deeper, taking an early look at the odds, previewing this game and offering up a prediction.
When: Sunday, Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay
Odds: Chiefs (-3.5), per DraftKings
OK, let’s get this out of the way: The Chiefs don’t just hold the edge at quarterback; they hold the significant edge at the position. Mahomes is the best player in football, period, while Brady nearly cost his team a 28-10 lead in the NFC Championship Game with his three second-half interceptions.
Mahomes this postseason? Four passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and zero interceptions. He threw all of six interceptions this entire season. The odds of him significantly hurting Kansas City with turnovers are far smaller than Brady doing the same.
There’s little doubt Tampa has a good defense, however, and a dangerous pass rush, one that sacked Aaron Rodgers five times Sunday. Todd Bowles is one of the best defensive minds in the game. That’s a major concern for a Chiefs team that could be without offensive tackle Eric Fisher, who injured his Achilles on Sunday.
Don’t sleep on this Chiefs defense, though.
It’s held opponents to 20 or fewer points 10 times this season and gave up 22.6 points per game in the regular season, tied for 10th in the NFL. Mahomes and the offense are scary, but you don’t go 16-2 without a capable defense.
The skill-position firepower in this game will be a wash. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Kansas City’s cadre of speedy playmakers stretch defenses both vertically and horizontally, and the play-calling and play design of Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy—including some of the best screen-pass designs in football—constantly put defenses under pressure.
Tampa will counter with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette. Bruce Arians is no slouch as an innovative offensive mind himself.
There’s a hard-and-fast rule for games like these that otherwise seem like balanced matchups: Go with the better quarterback. It doesn’t always work out. We’ve seen players like Nick Foles and Eli Manning punch above their weight in previous Super Bowls.
But generally, the better quarterback is the difference in these games. Brady may be a legend, but at this particular moment in time, Mahomes is the better player. And that makes the Chiefs the smarter pick.
Prediction: Chiefs win, 31-27
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