By the end of last season, it was clear Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was the best player in the NFL. And, given it was the end of his second season, it seemed he could hold that title for a long, long time.
It’s not such a slam dunk anymore. This NFL season has belonged to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, whose team is on the verge of clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC. There’s little doubt Jackson will win NFL MVP at the end of his second season, just like Mahomes last season.
Mahomes has had a good encore to his MVP season but there also has been some regression. The Chiefs take on the Chicago Bears on Sunday night in a game that can be livestreamed on the Yahoo Sports app.
Jackson is clearly the best player in the NFL this season. But has he taken Mahomes’ crown as the best in the NFL going forward?
Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson?
Mahomes and Jackson are different players. Mahomes is a phenomenal passer with a good amount of athleticism. Jackson is an all-time great runner whose improvement as a passer has been stunning. His 33 touchdown passes lead the NFL.
Injuries to Mahomes make the debate tougher. Mahomes sprained an ankle in the season opener and it’s possible he hasn’t been 100 percent all season. Mahomes dislocated his kneecap in a game against the Denver Broncos and missed two games.
Before looking at Mahomes vs. Jackson, it’s worth comparing Mahomes’ 2018 season and this one:
2018: 318.6 passing yards per game, 8.6 percent TD ratio, 2.1 percent INT ratio, 113.8 passer rating
2019: 300.5 yards per game, 5.4 percent TD ratio, 0.9 percent INT ratio, 106.2 passer rating
If we remove the game in which Mahomes got hurt against the Broncos in the first half, he’s averaging 320.9 passing yards per game. That’s still fantastic.
So Mahomes couldn’t keep up his unbelievable rate of touchdown passes, but has been more careful with the ball. He has been very good, if just short of his historic 2018 campaign.
Jackson’s 2019 or Mahomes’ 2018?
Jackson’s combination of running prowess and passing precision has never been seen before in the NFL, not to Jackson’s level anyway. It makes a comparison to any other quarterback season through an NFL season very tough. Still, here is the 2018 MVP vs. the likely 2019 MVP:
2018 Mahomes: 5,097 yards, 50 TD, 12 INT, 113.8 passer rating, 272 rushing yards, 2 TD
2019 Jackson (14 games): 2,889 yards, 33 TD, 6 INT, 112.8 passer rating, 1,103 rushing yards, 7 TD
Both are historic seasons. It’s also somewhat amazing that Jackson has roughly the same passer rating as Mahomes last season while he breaks the single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
There can be different “NFL’s best player” answers because it’s a complex question. Jackson could be the best player in football for the next three years, but because of the nature of his record-setting rushing volume, Mahomes might be the better player for the next 10 years. It’s also fair that Jackson could be the best player this season but Mahomes is still the best player, period.
They’re both superstars and thrill us in different ways. Wouldn’t a playoff meeting between the two be something?
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