Patrick Mahomes vs Tom Brady: who will win tomorrow?
By: Brock Wells
Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady meet for the first time since Super Bowl LV in Week Four of the 2022 NFL season. The last time the two quarterbacks met, the Buccaneers had a clear defensive advantage and made the Chiefs just the third team in Super Bowl history to not score a touchdown. But a lot has changed in the NFL landscape since that time, so which of these two quarterbacks holds the edge in the current moment?
Both teams come into this game with a record of 2-1, and both come into the game off losing their last game. The Buccaneers will be getting Mike Evans back from his one-game suspension which is welcome news for Brady, but the team’s offensive line has really struggled so far this season to keep the 45-year-old quarterback protected. The Chiefs come off a game in which their defense was handled by Matt Ryan in a game where Colts superstar running back Jonathan Taylor ran for 71 yards but didn’t get in the end zone.
All the talk in Kansas City has been about how Patrick Mahomes handles games without Tyreek Hill. Through three games, it’s been a bit of a split screen. Mahomes did extremely well in Week One against the Arizona Cardinals, whose defense was nonexistent in the game. But since that game, things have been a bit different. The Chiefs barely escaped against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week Two and were beaten in Indianapolis last week. Both were games in which he didn’t look all that good.
The problem with evaluating Mahomes is that there are two dominant camps surrounding him and both of them are equally ridiculous. One camp says he’s total garbage who gets by on pure luck and wouldn’t be any good anywhere else. The other camp says he’s an infallible god who can do no wrong whatsoever. The truth is that he’s currently a quarterback with a wide receiver core lacking strong definition.
That isn’t necessarily an issue when you have the best tight end in the NFL at your disposal, but it does make your offense predictable when the receivers around you aren’t performing. The Chiefs also have an inconsistent running game, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire showing real potential at times, but nowhere enough of the time to be consistently reliable. Mahomes has had to slow things down considerably, changing the very definition of the Chiefs’ offense.
The problem is that he’s had only sporadic success in doing so. The Chiefs have relied too much on big plays over the years and as a result, they lack overall discipline. They may very well be able to figure this out in the long run, but the Buccaneers defense is very good and will have Mahomes and the offense under pressure.
The Buccaneers may be 2-1, but Tom Brady and the wide receiver core have really struggled in those three games. Brady has been under far more pressure than any 40+ athlete should be comfortable with, and between Mike Evans missing a game and Julio Jones and Chris Godwin being injury-prone, the offense has struggled to put up points. Brady has managed to throw one touchdown in each of the team’s three games, but that’s nowhere near what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing with him over many years.
Jones and Godwin are both game-time decisions for the Buccaneers for tomorrow night’s game, but for Brady, there would be nothing better than knowing those two will be suiting up for the game. Jones was looking to be integrated as Brady’s new favorite go-to receiver after Week One’s win against the Dallas Cowboys, hauling in three receptions for 69 yards, but the receiver hasn’t played since. Same story for Godwin, with some wondering if he attempted to come back from last season’s injury too quickly.
Ignoring the speculation on whether Rob Gronkowski would come out of retirement for Brady a second time, expect Cameron Brate to become a more consistent element of the Buccaneers’ offense as Brady figures out the situation with his wide receivers. It’s difficult to imagine the struggles with Brady and the team will continue forever, but that isn’t exactly something that looks like a lock for the time being. But they just need enough to get past the Chiefs in one matchup for the moment.
The Buccaneers need to count on Leonard Fournette to have success in the running game. The more success he has, the more likely it is that Brady will be able to have his way in the passing game. Fournette ran for 127 yards in Week One but had just 65 and 35 in the following games. For all the talk about Brady and Evans, much of the Buccaneers’ offense depends on the success of Fournette on the ground. His play against the Chiefs could determine a lot for Brady and Evans.
Brady has the advantage in terms of overall weapons at wide receiver on account of the fact that Evans will be back. Mahomes has the clearest advantage in the presence of Travis Kelce. But the ultimate determining factor is going to be which team has more success running the football. In that regard, Fournette can be expected to have a better game than Edwards-Helaire. The Buccaneers are stingy against the run. Much stingier than the Chiefs.
Brady gets the edge here because he’s the more likely of the two to make the most of his situation in a given instant. Mahomes is going to have to be patient while nickeling and diming the ball up the field because the Buccaneers defense is stout enough to plan for the impact of Kelce. It’s too difficult to imagine Brady having four underwhelming games in a row. As for the Chiefs, the AFC West isn’t locked in their grasp as many have already opined. That division looks to be wide open and go deep into the season to find its winner.
Brady may be on his final leg, but Mahomes isn’t unstoppable, and the 45-year-old has enough around him to pull off the victory tomorrow night.