Patrick Mahomes is deserving of his second NFL regular-season MVP award, but with a slew of prolific passing competition — led by the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson — he might not get it. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Mahomes is still the best QB in the league, enjoying his best season in the NFL.
Through the Chiefs’ 8-1 start as reigning Super Bowl champions, Mahomes has a career-high passer rating of 115.9 and reached new heights with his 87.0 ESPN QBR. He leads the league with 9.6 adjusted yards per passing attempt and 9.04 adjusted net yards per passing attempt, also career-best marks.
After throwing for a combined nine touchdowns and 788 passing yards the past two weeks in home wins over the Jets and the Panthers, Mahomes is up to 25 TDs and 2,687 yards in nine games. That puts him on pace for 44 TDs and 4,777 passing yards.
Those numbers might pale a little vs. the 50 TDs and 5,097 yards he put up during his second NFL season, his first as a starter, that earned him his first MVP award. But there’s one small statistic that confirms Mahomes has taken his game to another improbable level of excellence — his one interception.
Mahomes has dropped back 340 times, has been sacked only 11 times and has turned over the ball only once in 2020. He was intercepted by Raiders safety Jeff Heath down 33-24 late in the fourth quarter at home in Week 5, stamping the Chiefs’ only loss of the season, 40-32.
Mahomes is in good shape to have the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history. Tom Brady set that record in 2016, with 28 TDs to only two interceptions as part of 3,554 yards on 432 attempts. In contrast, Mahomes, with 328 attempts, is on pace for 584 attempts in 2020.
Consider this year that Aaron Rodgers (24-to-2 on 280 attempts), Derek Carr (16-to-2 on 258 attempts) and Ryan Tannehill (19-to-3 on 254 attempts) are also putting up top-15 TD-to-INT all-time ratios. Mahomes is doing what’s he’s doing at a much higher level.
Then consider Wilson is up to eight interceptions, on pace for a career-worst 16 INTs for the Seahawks. As dazzling as Kyler Murray has been running and passing for the Cardinals, he has matched Wilson with 10 giveaways in eight games.
Mahomes is profiling much like Rodgers, who won two MVPs in similar ways in 2011 and 2014. In ’11, Rodgers set an incredible bar with 45 TDs and only six INTs with 4,643 yards passing. In ’14, Rodgers posted 38 TDs to only five INTs with 4,381 yards passing.
Wilson has never gotten an MVP vote, partly because his numbers haven’t been quite as good as another elite passer in any of one of his seasons. But even though he’s on pace for a record 56 TDs and 5,082 passing yards, his turnovers might cost him in relation to Mahomes. The TDs would be a record, breaking Peyton Manning’s mark from 2013. The yards would be just shy of Mahomes’ mark from 2018. That might not matter much when interceptions get so much negative attention.
It’s getting harder to ignore Mahomes having made fewer mistakes than everyone else in a season during which QBs are putting up video-game stats around the league. Mahomes’ combination of higher reward and lower risk is amazing to watch, something we have never seen from him — or any other quarterback in NFL history.