Patrick Mahomes is no underdog in showdown with Joe Burrow

4 days ago 5

There person been fewer times erstwhile Patrick Mahomes, successful what has been an astir flawless 92-game shot career, has faced a quandary similar this. There was nary NFL learning curve for him. He threw 50 touchdown passes his archetypal afloat play arsenic a starter, successful 2018. He is 64-16 arsenic a regular-season quarterback. 

He has played 12 playoff games. 

Ten of those 12 games — each but the 2 Super Bowls successful which helium has played — person been held successful the comfy oversea of reddish of Arrowhead Stadium. Think astir that. Think astir conscionable however ascendant his Chiefs teams person been. Not 1 roadworthy crippled successful the postseason. Ever. He has 1 MVP Award. He is, astatine worst, an even-money favourite to adhd a 2nd 1 this year. 

Yet this week, Mahomes volition look thing helium has astir ne'er faced before. Coming to Arrowhead this Sunday for the AFC Championship game are Joe Burrow and the Bengals, and successful the days since the Who Deys flattened the Bills successful Buffalo, determination has grown thing of an angelic aura astir them and their cool-as-a-movie-theater-in-August quarterback. 

“They’re a large squad and he’s a large player,” Mahomes said Wednesday greeting successful Kansas City, Mo. “I deliberation everybody knows that.” 

So it is antithetic for Mahomes this time. Across astir of his career, helium has been the hunted, and helium has been the biggest prima connected the field. He has mostly lived up to each of that hype. (Who are we kidding? He has mostly surpassed it.) But it is besides fair, precise fair, to constituent retired that though helium has won 9 of those 12 postseason games, the 3 losses person travel against 2 quarterbacks. 

Kansas City Chiefs backmost   Patrick Mahomes (15) takes the tract  Patrick Mahomes tin adhd a spot connected his enarthrosis to what he’s bringing to the AFC rubric game.USA TODAY Sports

1. Tom Brady, successful the 2018 AFC Championship crippled and again successful Super Bowl LV 2 years later. 

2. Joe Burrow, successful the 2021 AFC Championship game, aft Burrow spotted Mahomes and unit a 21-3 lead. 

Mahomes and the Chiefs person faced Burrow and the Bengals 2 different times the past 2 regular seasons. The Bengals won some of those games, too. So it is Cincinnati that volition bring a three-game winning streak successful the bid to Arrowhead this Sunday, it is Cincinnati that has drawn much than 77 percent of the pregame gambling action, moving the enactment arsenic galore arsenic 4.5 points. It is Burrow who has emerged, for now, arsenic the fashionable prime for the question: Who is the 1 subordinate you commencement your squad with? 

Cincinnati Bengals backmost   Joe Burrow (9) speaks with Kansas City Chiefs backmost   Patrick Mahomes.Patrick Mahomes and Joe BurrowAP Photo

Mahomes has ne'er been an underdog before. He is an underdog now. Both virtually and metaphorically. There is 1 notable dissident. 

“Every clip I locomotion connected a field,” Mahomes said Wednesday, “I don’t consciousness similar I’m an underdog. Especially astatine Arrowhead.” 

It mightiness behoove the Bengals — and everyone other — to heed the warning: 

Beware of Underdog. 

Certainly beware of this reputed underdog. Mahomes has been humbled by the Bengals. He has besides been betrayed by his assemblage — though helium walked without a limp Wednesday morning, helium is inactive conscionable 4 days removed from a diagnosis of a precocious ankle sprain, and we each saw however helium struggled to determination against the Jaguars. 

“He’s had injuries before,” Chiefs manager Andy Reid said. “He tin slope connected that past acquisition he’s had. He’ll bash fine, nary matter. We’re conscionable making definite he’s harmless — harmless arsenic you tin beryllium retired determination connected a shot field, anyway.” 

There are times erstwhile you deliberation the Mahomes Experience has tally retired of adjectives, if not steam, and that’s usually astir the clip helium pulls a no-look walk retired of his container of tricks, oregon a left-handed toss, oregon a hoops jump-shot TD propulsion — oregon simply a textbook-perfect spiral into a waiting acceptable of arms, usually belonging to Travis Kelce, often adjacent the extremity line.

 Mark Konezny-USA TODAY SportsJoe Burrow comes into Sunday’s AFC rubric crippled arsenic the favourite — but not if Patrick Mahomes has thing to accidental astir it.USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, helium volition bring that accustomed array of goodies with him arsenic good arsenic a mates of different things that are not usually portion of the repertoire: a spot connected his shoulder, for one, and a request for retribution. He was unspeakable successful the 2nd fractional of the AFC rubric crippled past year, erstwhile the Bengals came backmost to triumph 27-24, and helium softly insisted, “This was each my fault” amid the detritus of that defeat. 

Burrow besides thoroughly outplayed him successful the Bengals’ triumph Dec. 4 — besides 27-24, which was the archetypal clip the speculation began to brew that possibly determination was a passing of the torch happening among the NFL’s gold-standard quarterbacks. Neither squad has mislaid since. Somebody surely volition connected Sunday. 

“We cognize who we’re playing,” Mahomes said. “We cognize what they’ve done against us.” 

Maybe the Bengals bash person the Chiefs’ number. Maybe Burrow tin walk Sunday solidifying his run arsenic the NFL’s caller apical gunner. Maybe. All of that posits that Patrick Mahomes volition surrender each of that. You marque specified presumptions astatine your ain risk. Beware of this underdog.