With each passing week of football, Patrick Mahomes continues to prove he’s the NFL’s best player.
Although a young star-in-the-making, Lamar Jackson is not in Mahomes’ class. Nobody is, outside of six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. And even the GOAT can admire what he’s seen from Mahomes.
The Chiefs (3-0) raced out to a 30-13 lead, holding on for a 33-28 victory over the Ravens (2-1) — one of the AFC’s few contenders.
Mahomes — 27-for-37, 374 yards, three touchdowns — was brilliant in finding DeMarcus Robinson and newcomers Mecole Hardman and LeSean McCoy for highlight-reel scores that we’re accustomed to seeing each week from the young phenom.
At just 24 years old, Mahomes is playing quarterback at a level that we have not yet seen from anyone. A rocket-armed passer with a baseball background, Mahomes’ athleticism and ungodly football awareness are only half of what makes him great. The Chiefs’ franchise player has shown poise and leadership in his 21 career starts, which have led to a 17-5 record to begin his career.
Among the other ridiculous stats, Mahomes registered a 100.0 passer rating for the 16th time in 20 regular season starts, and has 60 touchdown passes in his lat 19 contests.
With the controversial Tyreek Hill slated to return later this season, the reigning NFL MVP will re-add perhaps the NFL’s best deep threat added to his arsenal.
Of course there is a hill Mahomes has yet to climb. In two meetings with the New England Patriots, Mahomes has struggled — scoring a combined seven points in both first halves — early before rallying his team late, only to come up short versus Brady and Bill Belichick.
The budding rivalry between the Chiefs and Patriots is starting to have a ‘can-you-get-over-the-hump?’ feel to it for Mahomes.
For Michael Jordan, it was the Detroit Pistons. For Peyton Manning it was the Patriots. And for LeBron James it was a mix between the Pistons, Celtics and Spurs. Many young superstars fall victim to a more-established championship-level team for multiple seasons before climbing the hill. With Mahomes, the Chiefs may be Super Bowl-bound in just his second season, which would be an accelerated path that the aforementioned sports legends failed to follow. Manning didn’t defeat the Patriots until eight season, and failed to win his first Super Bowl until his ninth campaign. Mahomes has a good chance to host a Lombardi Trophy before that, but nothing is given in this league, and the Chiefs have more work to do on defense.
Mahomes will see the Patriots in New England in a Week 14 matchup that should decide home field advantage throughout the conference.
They may even see Baltimore again in the postseason. New Raven Earl Thomas was adamant on the matter after the game.
“We’re going to see them again. And when we see them down the line, we’re going to have it,” Thomas said.
Frankly, whichever team sees Mahomes and the Chiefs is going to have their hands full.
– In just three years as the Colts general manager, Chris Ballard has built one of the best rosters in the NFL in Indianapolis. And even with the surprise retirement of Andrew Luck, the franchise’s new passer has kept the Colts’ (2-1) playoff dreams afloat. Jacoby Brissett completed his first 16 passes and added a few clutch throws downfield late, to stave off the Falcons (1-2). Brissett was thought to have had intangible qualities needed for his role, but many would agree that he had much to improve on in terms of being a NFL-quality passer. Brissett has answered the bell, and clearly looks like one of the better all-around quarterbacks in pro football through three weeks.
– Matt Patricia has taken his fare share of criticism since taking the Lions head coaching job. After a week 1 tie with the lowly Cardinals — in which Detroit blew a 24-6 lead — the inconsistent franchise looked like a team in for more of the same in 2019. But Detroit has since taken down two of the league’s most talented teams, the Chargers and Eagles, to move to 2-0-1. The Lions are moderately stout in several different areas — the line of scrimmage (offense and defense), secondary, running game — giving them a well-balanced attack on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford has improved mightily. One of his major criticisms was his inability to beat good teams on the road. Stafford helped Detroit do that on Sunday. The Lions host the Chiefs next week in the weekend’s most interesting showdown.
– The league’s quarterback carousel produced a litany of impressive performances on Sunday. Rookie Daniel Jones replaced Eli Manning and rallied the Giants (1-2) from an 18-point deficit to beat the Buccaneers (1-2) on the road in his first career start. Teddy Bridgewater filled in for Drew Brees and helped the Saints (2-1) beat the Seahawks (2-1), handing Russell Wilson his first career home loss in September. And Kyle Allen took Cam Newton’s spot and threw for four scores as the Panthers (1-2) downed the Cardinals (1-2) in Arizona. There were a few performances from this group that were left to be desired. Luke Faulk and the Jets were no match for the Patriots. Josh Rosen was given little help from his Dolphin teammates in Dallas. And despite some fourth-quarter heroics, Mason Rudolph and the Steelers were out-dueled by Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers (3-0) in San Francisco.
THE BETTER HALF
1. New England Patriots (3-0) (Last week: 1). The Patriots allowed just 105 total yards versus the Jets on Sunday — their best effort in their 20 years under Bill Belichick. Is this their best defense ever?
2. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) (Last week: 2). Can anyone slow down Mahomes?
3. Los Angeles Rams (3-0) (Last week: 3). He threw a bad pick late, but Jared Goff still exorcised some road demons in Cleveland. The Patriots, Chiefs and Rams are in a different class than the rest. They’re the true contenders at this point.
4. Dallas Cowboys (3-0) (Last week: 4). Dallas picked up the pace versus Miami after a sloppy start. A win in New Orleans next Sunday night — even with Teddy Bridgewater in for Drew Brees — would show the nation just how good America’s Team is, in 2019.
5. Green Bay Packers (3-0) (Last week: 7). The Packers are quietly building their case in the NFC. Their defense is much improved. Their offseason signings are paying off.
6. New Orleans Saints (2-1) (Last week: 9). The Saints rallied around Teddy Bridgewater on Sunday. If they hang around .500, that should be enough for them to win the NFC South with a returning Drew Brees. Bridgewater can do at least that, it seems. Maybe more.
7. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) (Last week: 5). Lamar Jackson rallied the troops late, but the Ravens were flat for almost the entire game in Arrowhead. They aren’t up to par with New England or Kansas City in the AFC just yet. But we knew that.
8. Minnesota Vikings (2-1) (Last week: 11). Dalvin Cook continues to fry defenses (smooth, I know).
9. Indianapolis Colts (2-1) (Last week: 12). The Colts are a damn good team, and Jacoby Brissett is a damn good quarterback.
10. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) (Last week: 8). That was a rough loss at home. They aren’t quite a top-tier contender in the NFC, but they’re probably a postseason team, just like last season.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) (Last week: 6). They have some major problems on defense. And it’s time to really consider if Carson Wentz is stuck in Nick Foles’ shadow. I think he’ll eventually respond nicely, though.
12. Houston Texans (2-1) (Last week: 15). Deshaun Watson rallied the Texans on the road. They still have some issues, but they look like a playoff team in the AFC. Beating the Chargers may prove monumental if both teams are later in the wild card hunt.
13. Detroit Lions (2-0-1) (Last week: NR). Are we still asking for Matt Patricia to be fired? Didn’t think so. Him and Matthew Stafford have been awesome so far this season.
14. Chicago Bears (1-1) (Last week: 10). They play Washington tonight. If they’re a slam-dunk playoff team, they’ll win this.
15. Buffalo Bills (3-0) (Last week: NR). Their defense has been solid but Josh Allen has produced almost only in the clutch. Just how good is this team?
16. San Francisco 49ers (3-0) (Last week: NR). Like the Bills, the 49ers are an undefeated team that has beaten up on lesser opponents, and are at this point — basically unproven.