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Pat Mahomes v. Josh Allen: The modern answer to Brady-Manning?


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Or so suggests this piece:



Early 2000s America was quite the terrifying place. Popped collars and cuffed jeans (often glittered) were considered trendy and, even, cool by the nation’s youth. Thanks to the ubiquitousness of a wave of boy bands, highlights in your hair were not only the very peak of accessorizing your hair; they were, actually, mandatory. “N’Sync” and “The Backstreet Boys” were never more influential. Before it became a pillar that helped erode the world’s social fabric, Facebook was just a somewhat convenient way to keep in touch with friends and family and share photos from your life. But only if you could figure out how to upload them to your computer, with dial-up internet. 

It was all about Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the NFL in the sports world. It didn’t matter that a quarterback couldn’t directly influence another quarterback’s performance, save for making them chase a lead. Everyone knew these were all-time greats before they could be canonized, pilloried, and debated about ad nauseam. It is still the only pro football quarterback rivalry to have its own distinct Wikipedia page. I guess that’s what happens when you meet in the playoffs five times from 2001 to 2015, and the winner always went on to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. That seems kind of like the thing that has persistent stakes, you know?

The narrative came first (as it always must), and it was always about “Brady v. Manning: The Newest Hyped-Up Edition.” It may as well have been a promo for a monster truck rally on a Sunday evening, save for Al Michaels narrating with his bass voice. Ever since Brady and, er, only Manning left the fold (Seriously: Does Tom know Ra’s al Ghul personally or something?), the NFL has been in desperate search of the next all-time quarterback head-to-head.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: Let me present Patrick Lavon Mahomes II and Joshua Patrick Allen to you.

As the leader of inarguably the league’s best team over the last half-decade, the 26-year-old Mahomes already has a lavish throne all to himself. Not only have his Chiefs played in every AFC Championship Game since he became a full-time starter in 2018; on an individual basis, it’s a total shock to the system when he only slightly lights up a hapless defense. That’s as opposed to making them rebuild, from scratch, right then and there. We might as well coin it “The Mahomes Effect.” Yeah, no, we have a ruling. We’re going to call it The Mahomes Effect.

Mahomes has been so good and so fast through just four full seasons as a starter that it’s been hard to imagine any relevant challenger upending Kansas City so long as he’s healthy while he unleashes bombs and darts to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, respectively.

That is, until now. Enter Josh Allen.

Josh, Patrick.

Patrick, Josh.

Oh wait, you’ve both already met. 

Before he became the latest cold-blooded Terminator robot from the future, there was a time when Allen looked like a glorified JUCO quarterback who, quite frankly, belonged nowhere near a professional football field. He was overwhelmed while, at the same time, sailing missiles of throws 10 yards past his receiver’s heads. That was, of course, in 2018 and 2019. (Otherwise known as a Different World now, really.)

But over the last two years, Allen the android has ascended. Ascension might be putting it on light terms when you consider he’s created 87 touchdowns in his last 33 regular reason starts. The only person to have more in the same time frame? Why none other than Pat … nope, actually, not even he did it!

Allen’s status as a clear elite quarterback has elevated the Bills to a mainstay Super Bowl contender. His Bills have won three of their last four playoff games, including a well-earned humiliation of the Patriots last weekend. Unfortunately (well, really only for the city of Buffalo), that status comes at the same time as Mahomes’ Chiefs’ brilliance. If not for Mahomes and Co. being “on one,” as the kids say, in last year’s AFC Championship Game, Allen and his respective friends would’ve played in Super Bowl LV. They might have even won.

Fortunately for us, the casual neutral observers of hopeful good football, Allen gets another shot at Mahomes this Sunday in Kansas City in the AFC Divisional Round. Or, as I might let it just roll off the tongue: Mahomes v. Allen: The Latest Hyped-Up Edition. CBS’s Jim Nantz, who is broadcasting Sunday’s affair, will probably have a better name for it. Maybe.

When was the last time that two quarterbacks who each had five touchdowns the previous weekend, met the following Sunday?

Mahomes and Allen are two genuine elite passers. They are offensive creators who together deserve every bit of the admiration, commendation, and hype that one Brady-Manning battle did. They are the current best of the best and, barring health, should be going toe-to-toe, seeing each other in the postseason, and deciding the AFC in the process for years to come. At the risk of being too hyperbolic, you could probably already pencil them in as all-time greats, given the magic they create from their arms and legs.

Bettors over with Tipico agree, especially when it comes to team odds for Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles in a few weeks.

At this moment, Mahomes’s Chiefs are +380 to win it all, with Allen’s Bills not far behind at +500. Only the Packers at +330 sit in a more favorable position to get specific-colored confetti floating around them in the air.

The chances are that whoever comes out on top in Mahomes-Allen this Sunday goes on to win the AFC and maybe even the Super Bowl. Get used to it. You’ll probably be reading a similar sentence every January for a long time. 2020s America is also a terrifying place, with its own strange cultural intricacies, which now often come and go as fast as one news cycle.

But, for comfort, at least we have Mahomes-Allen to lead us through the fog.

I'm not so sure about this - it would be thrilling if these guys are the main faces of the AFC for the next decade, but wasn't the new Peyton/Brady rivalry supposed to be Mahomes/Lamar just a couple of years ago? Secondly, I just think the conference is too flush with elite QB talent right now for any one rivalry to take center stage. Mahomes, Herbert, Lamar, Burrow, Allen (and more to come?) - all of these guys will be meeting in the playoffs a lot as the future unfolds - it won't be about a particular pairing.

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I think a Mahomes to Manning link is not crazy.

Mahomes is at 50-13 now with 7 playoff wins. His rating is at 105.8 / 105.1 *

He's the best young QB right now and he's pretty far ahead of Manning after year 5.


Comparing Josh Allen to either guy at this point or comparing either of them to Brady is unwarranted IMO.

His passer rating is 95.4 excluding his rookie season but its hard to quantify his ++ rushing ability and production.

His record is 34-15 excluding his rookie year.


It would not be crazy to see Burrow or Herbert step up as the main Mahomes QB rival in a few years.



* Rodgers is currently the only other QB at 100+ for regular season and playoffs at 104.5 / 100.5

Note: I separated Allen from his rookie year because he was a raw prospect and Mahomes did not have to play much as a rookie.

Brady is a unicorn. Its hard to compare him to anyone who is not a young QB with 3 SB rings. Mahomes winning this year would be a start.

Brady also became stats QB in year 8. Before that he was more about clutch and winning without crazy stats.

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If Allen bests Mahomes this weekend and somehow ends up with a SB ring this year then yeah. But it's a little premature until the other guy (Allen) performs on the big stage and wins the grand prize (SB). Mahomes has already done that, Allen hasn't. Talent wise they are very close but Patrick has the hardware, Josh doesn't. 

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Just to throw it out there (I still have Mahomes over Allen until/if Allen can win a SB, big if), in the past 2 season this is how they stack up :

  • Total Yards 
    • Mahomes : 10,268
    • Allen : 10,135
  • Total Touchdowns 
    • Mahomes : 79
    • Allen : 88
  • Completion %
    • Mahomes : 66.3%
    • Allen : 66.1%
  • INTs 
    • Mahomes : 19
    • Allen : 25
  • Record
    • Mahomes : 26-7
    • Allen : 24-9

It's a lot closer than you'd think. Mahomes has slightly more yards, less INTs and a slightly better record. Allen has more touchdowns. Completion % about equal. 


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It takes more than being two awesome QBs in the same conference to be a rivalry. There were some nice showdowns between Brees/Rodgers but no one remembers those like they do Brady/Manning. There was something special about that rivalry.

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It’s hard to say at the moment that this is the new age Brady/Manning. There’s too many other good young QBs that could squeeze their way into the conversation in the next few years. Burrow, Lamar, Herbert and even a wildcard in Deshaun Watson. 

If Allen and the Bills win it all this year, it’d certainly be on the path of an all time great QB rivalry though.

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