Sunday’s AFC championship game will showcase a special matchup that features the NFL’s past and future: The G.O.A.T. vs. the kid.
Patriots veteran Tom Brady will head to Kansas City for New England’s eighth straight conference title game appearance as the Chiefs host their first AFC championship game with second-year gunslinger Patrick Mahomes leading the way.
Brady, 41, and Mahomes, 23, are separated by the largest age gap between two starting quarterbacks in postseason history, but they share common ground in the NFL record books.
Here, we break down their season to this point and what to expect from Sunday’s showdown.
How they stack up this season
Postseason divisional round
|Patrick Mahomes vs. Colts||65.9||278||0||0||85.2|
|Tom Brady vs. Chargers||77.3||343||1||0||106.5|
More than numbers
Mahomes has outperformed Brady in only his second season in the league, both from a statistical standpoint and a talent perspective as he flawlessly threw left-handed and no-look passes during his 2018-19 campaign as a first-year starter.
On the other hand, Brady will be in an unusual spot Sunday as the Patriots are underdogs for just the second time since 2007 entering Arrowhead Stadium. And if his outing in the divisional round against the Chargers is any indication, Brady won’t be playing like he did during the regular season. In fact, it could be argued that the pressure brings out his best performances.
Mahomes just getting started
This season has been all about Mahomes and his magnificent growth after former starter Alex Smith was traded to the Redskins last January. Mahomes capped his MVP-worthy season in historic fashion when he became just the second NFL player to throw for 50 touchdowns and 5,000 passing yards in a single season.
He then helped the Chiefs secure their first playoff victory since 2015 and first at Arrowhead since 1993 — before he was even born.
But Mahomes has seen the Brady effect firsthand before. Kansas City rallied from a 15-point deficit against New England in Week 6 but fell 43-40 on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal as time expired. The loss was a learning experience for Mahomes as he realized his team “can’t make mistakes” even after he threw for an impressive 352 yards and four touchdowns.
Brady or bust
With five Super Bowl rings and eight AFC titles, Brady is the most successful postseason quarterback in the league’s history. But even the most seasoned signal-callers get worn down eventually.
Despite no signs of slowing down, retirement was been a common topic last offseason and likely will be again in 2019. However, Brady’s focus now is firmly on helping the Patriots win their first playoff game on the road since the 2006 season.
In contests Brady has started, New England had been favored in 67 straight games. The probability of him winning Sunday, however, has taken a hit as his age was exposed at times this season.