Videos by OutKick
PHOENIX — The idea that Super Bowl LVII is a matchup between Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is patently inaccurate because when either quarterback is on the field the other will be watching from the sideline.
The quarterback matchup is not an actual confrontation.
The actual main event matchup this Super Bowl is Mahomes versus the Eagles defense. And that promises things…
The NFL’s best quarterback (based on the statistics and everyone’s eyes) versus the league’s best pass defense and top sack attack.
The Most Valuable Player versus the Most Complete Defense.
Patrick Mahomes Greatest Of This Time
This one matches the guy who may one day challenge Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback of all time versus a defense whose 78 sacks are only four short of the 1984 Chicago Bears record for most sacks in a regular-season and postseason.
You read that last paragraph right, by the way. With Brady retired, Mahomes looks like the most likely candidate to chase all his records and accolades going forward.
Brady, for example, won three Super Bowls his first six NFL seasons. Mahomes on Sunday will play in his third Super Bowl in his sixth NFL season and has a chance to win for the second time.
“I’m not necessarily trying to get close to Brady but if you look at the list of quarterbacks that have won two Super Bowls, it’s not a very long list,” said Mahomes, pivoting to another measure that would include him in elite company.
“You want to do whatever you can to leave this game with that trophy, but it’s not like I’m trying to catch Tom. Catching Tom is a long ways away but if you talk to me when I’m around 38 years old and I’ve got five or six of them, then I’ll start talking about catching Tom.”
Fine. So maybe it’s too early for Greatest of All Time talk. But if Mahomes helps the Chiefs win this Super Bowl, the timing will be right for Greatest of This Time talk.
Eagles Defense Has Beaten Mediocre QBs
Only the Eagles are standing in the way of that.
So let’s analyze that. Because while the Eagles seem capable opponents, there are questions about that defense.
The Eagles have feasted on quarterbacks this season. They yielded an NFL low 179.8 passing yards per game .
But that impressive number came at the expense of a mostly middling group of quarterbacks. That list includes:
The Eagles won the NFC Championship Game by knocking 49ers third-string quarterback Brock Purdy out of the game and facing fourth-stringer Josh Johnson most of the day.
Mahomes Better Than What Eagles Faced
And, yes, the Eagles played Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers during the season. But the Goff game came early, before Detroit found its footing, Prescott led the NFL in interceptions, Cousins was second in interceptions, and Rodgers was inconsistent all season.
And despite those facts, Goff, Prescott and Rodgers all put up over 30 points in their games.
None of the quarterbacks the Eagles faced were Mahomes good.
The Eagles faced no quarterback with a rating of 100 or more. Mahomes had a rating of 105.2.
The Eagles faced no quarterback who threw 30 TD passes or more. Mahomes threw 41.
The Eagles did face 5 of the top 10 quarterbacks that led the NFL in interceptions.
All this makes it seem like Mahomes will have a chance to hurt Philadelphia on Sunday. But he’s not admitting that for obvious reasons.
“They’re great everywhere,” he said. “It’s hard to pick [their greatest strength]. I’d probably say the defensive line because they’re on an historic sack rate. And the way they’re able to get to the quarterback.
“Everybody knows that everything starts up front. So that’ll be a great challenge for our offensive line to try to do what they can in the run game and pass game of protecting and run-blocking. But they got great DBs, great linebackers, too. It’ll be a great matchup.”
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero