Patrick Mahomes’ dominance, NFL power rankings, Rams roll and more

NFL


Patrick Mahomes isn’t just the best quarterback thus far this season, he’s a generational player that should be reminding us of another such talent.

Dan Marino. 1984.

If you want to find another season like the one Patrick Mahomes is currently authoring for the Kansas City Chiefs, that’s how far back into time you must travel. It’s a 34-year jaunt, and one that seems even longer.

Like Mahomes, Marino was a second-year starter playing for a team accustomed to playoff participation. The Miami Dolphins were an annual contender riding the Killer B’s, struggling to put up points with David Woodley at the controls. In 1983, the Dolphins snagged Marino with the 27th-overall pick in the draft and never looked back.

After starting nine games as a rookie, Marino took the controls full-time in ’84 and put forth one of the NFL’s all-time seasons, throwing for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns, both records at the time by wide margins. Marino led Miami to a 15-1 record, helping to make the Dolphins must-see TV on their way to a Super Bowl appearance.

With Marino, his brilliance was substance-driven but his style was impossible to miss, throwing darts downfield to Mark Duper and Mark Clayton with a devil-may-care attitude.

Flash forward to Sunday afternoon, and Mahomes slicing up the Denver Broncos.

Mahomes threw four more touchdowns in the 30-23 win, giving him a league-leading 26 scoring tosses. At the midway point of the season, the 23-year-old has 2,526 yards (also a league-best) on an absurd 8.86 yards per attempt, third to Jared Goff and Philip Rivers. If he continues this pace throughout the second half of the season, Mahomes will end up with 5,052 yards and 52 touchdowns, ninth and second all-time for a single season.

This isn’t a great campaign from a young superstar. This could potentially be one of the most spellbinding campaigns ever put forth, regardless of age and position. Factoring in that Mahomes has started only nine NFL games, and the phenomenon only grows more wild.

Since Marino’s mystical 1984, only Kurt Warner’s 1999 would be in the conversation between then and now. Warner was fantastic on his way to league MVP and Super Bowl champion with the St. Louis Rams, throwing for 4,353 yards and 41 touchdowns at a time when both figures were stratospheric.

Even so, Mahomes’ year of dominance has been even more impressive considering his youth. Warner had toiled in NFL Europe and the Arena League, and was 28 years old when he burst onto the scene. Mahomes isn’t old enough to rent a car yet, and he’s thrashing a league known for making youngsters take their lumps.

Going into the second half of the season, Mahomes stands to be even better. He’s gaining experience and chemistry, and faces a docket that includes the Oakland Raiders (twice), Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns. For Mahomes, who hasn’t failed to throw for at least 300 yards since Week 1, it appears a safe bet that he’ll light his opponents up on those four occasions.

Today more than ever, the NFL is about throwing the ball and putting up huge numbers. In 2000, only three quarterback threw for 4,000 yards. This year, 20 passers are on pace to cruise past the milestone.

For some, that will water down Mahomes’ accomplishments, with historians opining that he is taking advantage of great surrounding talent and rules benefitting the passing game. All of that is true, but so is this.

We haven’t seen anything like this in decades, and Mahomes should be appreciated in his own time.

Power rankings

Top 10 Tecmo Super Bowl players

1. Bo Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Raiders
2. QB Eagles (Randall Cunningham), Philadelphia Eagles
3. Barry Sanders, RB, Detroit Lions
4. Christian Okoye, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
5. Lawrence Taylor, OLB, New York Giants
6. Jerry Rice, WR, San Francisco 49ers
7. Thurman Thomas, RB, Buffalo Bills
8. Dan Marino, QB, Miami Dolphins
9. Wayne Haddix, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10. Neal Anderson, RB, Chicago Bears

Quotable

“I’m just cooking steaks back there.”

– Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on the protection he’s getting from his line

For years, Wilson has been running for his life behind a rancid offensive line coached up by Tom Cable. With Cable now in Oakland, the Seahawks look like a totally different group up front. On Sunday, Wilson had all day and half the night to throw on most attempts, resulting in a 28-14 win that saw Wilson go for 248 yards and three touchdowns on 17 attempts.

Podcast

Matt Verderame and Josh Hill break down all the NFL action each Sunday night on the latest episode of Stacking The Box, which can be subscribed to and downloaded on iTunes!

Random stat

The Arizona Cardinals are a charter member of the NFL, and in 99 seasons, have six playoff wins. The New England Patriots have 27 postseason victories in the Tom Brady era.

Info learned this week

1. Rams rally to topple Packers late

The Los Angeles Rams remain the league’s only undefeated team, moving to 8-0 with a thrilling 29-27 win over the Green Bay Packers. Early on, it seems the Packers were going to provide the blueprint on how to slow down Jared Goff and Co., taking a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. However, the Rams squared their jaw and got rolling, with Goff racking up 295 passing yards and three scores, while Todd Gurley notched 114 yards on 25 attempts.

Green Bay had a chance to win late trailing 29-27, when returner Ty Montgomery fumbled the kickoff, robbing Aaron Rodgers of his chance to win at the gun. Rodgers was solid, completing 18-of-30 for 286 yards and a touchdown.

The Packers are now 3-3-1 and head to Foxborough for a Sunday night date with the Patriots. Los Angeles goes to the Superdome for a tussle with the Saints, perhaps the biggest threat to it in the NFC.

2. Saints upend Vikings on back of turnovers

The New Orleans Saints improved to 6-1 on the season, beating the Minnesota Vikings, 30-20, on Sunday night. New Orleans didn’t do a ton offensively with Drew Brees throwing an interception and being held in check throughout the night, but scored 14 points off two turnovers, including a pick-six in the third quarter.

With the victory, the Saints remain a game ahead of the Carolina Panthers in the NFC South and are only 1.5 games back of the Rams, who come into the Superdome in Week 9.

On the other side, the Vikings fell a half-game behind the Bears in the NFC North at 4-3-1. Minnesota has all the makings of a team that could contend deep into January, but the execution has been sporadic.

3. Eagles all but put end to Jaguars season

The Philadelphia Eagles were able to save their season on Sunday morning, defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars across the pond with a 24-18 victory. Philadelphia now moves to 4-4, staying 1.5 game behind the Washington Redskins in the NFC East and moving a half-game ahead of the idle Dallas Cowboys. The New York Giants, well, they are out of it at 1-7.

Conversely, the Jaguars have to begin wondering what next? Jacksonville has lost four straight and at 3-5, sits two games behind the surging Houston Texans in the AFC South. While there isn’t a powerhouse in the division, the Texans have an easy schedule moving forward, and both the Tennessee Titans and Texans both have road wins over Jacksonville. Incredibly, it’s now a fight between the Indianapolis Colts and Jaguars to stay out of the basement.

4. Panthers make statement against Ravens

It’s an annual rite of passage that the Carolina Panthers go under the radar. This year is no different, with the Panthers now 5-2 after a demolition of the Baltimore Ravens in Charlotte, winning 36-21. Cam Newton and Co. racked up 386 yards and 22 first downs against the league’s best defense, showcasing why they belong in the class of challengers to the Rams.

Carolina ran for 154 yards while Newton threw a pair of touchdowns, with one each going to Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey.

As for Baltimore, the Ravens are 4-4 and facing a borderline must-win against the Steelers in Charm City come Sunday. Pittsburgh is 4-2-1 after pounding the Cleveland Browns, riding the young legs of James Conner. If the Ravens are going to stay in the divisional race, they’ll need their best performance of the season to sweep the season series.

5. It’s time for the Buccaneers to move on from Winston

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put on a furious rally in the final quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals, only to fall short on a last-second Randy Bullock field goal, 37-34.

Cincinnati moved to 5-3 on the year while Tampa Bay slid to 3-4, but those things are sidelights to the main course. In defeat, Jameis Winston was brutal, throwing four interceptions including a pick-six to rookie safety Jessie Bates before he was finally benched. Winston, who was suspended for the first three games of the year, started all of three games before head coach Dirk Koetter finally saw enough.

Moving forward, Koetter has no choice but to go with Ryan Fitzpatrick. The veteran journeyman isn’t the answer, but neither is Winston. With DeSean Jackson reportedly requesting a trade, the Buccaneers are trying to keep their proverbial head above water, something that’s almost impossible to do when your quarterback is good for multiple turnovers on a weekly basis.

Winston’s rookie deal has an option for next season, and at this juncture, it’s tough to imagine the Buccaneers picking it up. Between his well-documented off-field issues and the continued nonsense on it, Tampa Bay has to accept reality. It’s all over for Winston in a Buccaneers uniform.

History lesson

The longest punt in NFL history was booted off the right foot of the New York Jets’ Steve O’Neal, going 98 yards against the Denver Broncos in 1969.

Parting shot

The Browns have to fire Hue Jackson after this upcoming game against Kansas City, with the team heading to its bye week. Jackson, who is 3-36-1 in his two-plus years with Cleveland, has shown continued cluelessness, headlined by criticizing Todd Haley after last week’s loss to Tampa Bay.

Jackson has never been a good head coach, and he’s bottomed out something fierce in Cleveland. Nobody expected the Browns to beat the Steelers on Sunday, but the team’s effort and performance were horrific. Baker Mayfield threw for 180 yards on 5.0 yards per attempt, with almost half that total coming in garbage time. This against one of the worst secondaries in the league.

For the first time in decades, the Browns might have a real quarterback on the roster. There’s talent at wide receiver, tight end and running back, and the defense has top-10 potential. Unfortunately, Jackson is restricting all of it with mind-numbing decisions.

Come the bye week, it must come to an end.





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