Live updates: Oklahoma coronavirus cases now 879; 34 deadCoronavirus in Oklahoma: Information gaps create confusionCoronavirus in Oklahoma: Integris adding, preserving PPE

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Super Bowl pick: Patrick Mahomes the difference

Related coverage:

Super Bowl LIV: The 54 people who make Chiefs-49ers interesting Why former OU Sooner had bumpy road to Super Bowl and how Damien Williams got there anyway

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has quarterbacked four NFL playoff games. He’s thrown 142 playoff passes. Eighty-nine were completed. Eleven went for touchdowns. None were intercepted.

OK, tell me again why anyone would pick the 49ers?

Super Bowl 54 arrives Sunday, Chiefs-49ers, and what a matchup. Kansas City’s first Super Bowl in 50 years. San Francisco’s second Super Bowl in 25 years, and the 49ers didn’t win seven years ago, when they made Super Bowl 47.

So one of the franchises that gave Joe Montana his platform to glory (49ers) or a soft landing spot in the twilight of his career (Chiefs) is going to win its first Super Bowl title in either a quarter or a half century.

And my money’s on the Chiefs. Because of Mahomes.

Mahomes is unbeaten in post-regulation. This January, Kansas City has beaten the Texans 51-31 and the Titans 35-24. Mahomes completed 23 of 35 passes in each game, for 321 yards against Houston and 294 against Tennessee, with a combined eight touchdowns.

Last post-season, Kansas City beat Indianapolis 31-13 and lost to New England 37-31 in overtime, the latter a game in which the Chiefs offense didn’t get an OT possession. Combined stats for Mahomes: 43 of 72, 573 yards, three touchdowns.

The only downside in the postseason for Mahomes has been a slow start – KC trailed the Patriots 14-0 at halftime, trailed the Texans 24-0 in the second quarter and trailed the Titans 17-7 in the second quarter. Then came the Mahomes blitzkrieg.

In four playoff games, Mahomes’ quarterback rating is a collective 115.0, which would be the NFL record by a wide margin if he had the required 150 passes. Mahomes is eight short and figures to be there by the first quarter Sunday night.

The record-holder is Bart Starr, 104.8. Only Kurt Warner (102.8), Matt Ryan (100.8) and Aaron Rodgers (100.0) also are over 100.

The truth about recent Super Bowls is they’ve been void of top-shelf quarterback talent, with apologies to Tom Brady in recent years and Peyton Manning late in his career.

Super Bowl 53: A 41-year-old Brady vs. a shaky Jared Goff.

Super Bowl 52: A 40-year-old Brady vs. backup Nick Foles.

Super Bowl 51: A 39-year-old Brady vs. Ryan, who certainly qualifies as an elite quarterback but isn’t headed for any Mount Rushmores except the Falcons’.

Super Bowl 50: A 39-year-old Manning vs. Cam Newton – give props to Newton, he was a load four years ago.

Super Bowl 49: A 37-year-old Brady vs. third-year pro Russell Wilson. Two really good quarterbacks. Maybe even in their primes. Or maybe one just past and one just shy.

Super Bowl 48: A 37-year-old Manning vs. second-year pro Wilson.

Super Bowl 47: The solid Joe Flacco vs. lightning-in-a-bottle Colin Kaepernick.

So in the previous seven Super Bowls, how many arrived with a superstar quarterback in his prime? Does Matt Ryan qualify? Cam Newton? Russell Wilson? I’d probably give you Wilson and wouldn’t fight too hard against Ryan.

But in recent years, teams have been reaching the Super Bowl without epic quarterbacking.

It was not always so.

Super Bowl 46: A 34-year-old Brady vs. 31-year-old Eli Manning. OK. Now we’re talking.

Super Bowl 45: A 27-year-old Aaron Rodgers vs. 28-year-old Ben Roethlisberger.

Super Bowl 44: A 31-year-old Brees vs. a 33-year-old Peyton Manning.

Super Bowl 43: A 26-year-old Roethlisberger vs. a 37-year-old Kurt Warner (with low mileage).

That was a series of quarterback royales.

Which brings us to Miami Gardens, where Mahomes’ counterpart is Jimmy Garoppolo, an incredibly effective quarterback for the 49ers. Garoppolo’s career record: 23-5. Jimmy G. is 28.

But he’s no Mahomes, and the 49ers don’t ask him to be. Garoppolo has thrown 27 passes total in San Francisco’s two victories this post-season. The 49ers won each game by 17 points.

Garoppolo is a good quarterback. But the 49ers’ strength is a running game and a ferocious defense, especially a deep and talented line that can make life rough on a quarterback. But Mahomes’ mobility negates most pass rushes. Mahomes on the move is as lethal as Mahomes in the pocket.

Mahomes is a great quarterback. The Super Bowl hasn’t had much of that lately. But great quarterbacking is back, which is why I’m picking the Chiefs, 31-20.

Related Photos
Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes celebrates with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, MO. The Chiefs won 35-24 to advance to Super Bowl 54. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes celebrates with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, MO. The Chiefs won 35-24 to advance to Super Bowl 54. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d6bdf0612c2427dfaca24eba8efec21f.jpg" alt="Photo - Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes celebrates with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, MO. The Chiefs won 35-24 to advance to Super Bowl 54. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)" title="Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes celebrates with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, MO. The Chiefs won 35-24 to advance to Super Bowl 54. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)"><figcaption>Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes celebrates with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, MO. The Chiefs won 35-24 to advance to Super Bowl 54. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

Comments