As Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians alluded in his Jan. 28 press conference, Super Bowl LV offers a quarterback showdown between one who is routinely referred to as the greatest QB of all time and another often cited as the best in the sport today. But as the 43-year-old Brady continues to pad his plethora of all-time NFL records, does the 25-year-old Mahomes have a chance to track him down one day?
NFL Media researcher Cole Jacobson explores several of Brady's all-time NFL records and reveals what Mahomes would have to do over the rest of his career to catch them.
NOTE: All statistics are regular-season only, unless otherwise mentioned. All numbers also assume the NFL expands to a 17-game regular season in 2021.
581 career passing touchdowns
Mahomes is off to the hottest start of any QB in NFL history, with 114 passing TDs in 46 career games (the next-most through 46 games: Dan Marino's 108). Mahomes is 467 passing TDs behind Brady, meaning that even if Brady didn't throw another touchdown pass, Mahomes would have to average 29.3 passing TDs per season over the next 16 seasons to surpass Brady. If Mahomes were to keep this pace, he would be 41 years old when he passed Brady's current mark, in the 2036 season.
Good news for Mahomes? In three seasons as a full-time starter, he's averaged 38.0 touchdown tosses per season.
230 QB wins
While Brady's 230 wins are 44 more than second place (186, by both Brett Favre and Peyton Manning), Mahomes' win percentage of .826 is the best of any QB since starts were tracked in 1950, among those with a minimum of 25 starts. Mahomes has a 38-8 record, putting him 192 wins behind Brady. If Mahomes managed to keep his .826 win percentage intact, it would take him 234 more starts to reach 231 career wins. Even if Mahomes started all 17 games every season for the rest of his career, he wouldn't reach this mark until the 2034 season, at age 39.
Six Super Bowl wins/10 Super Bowl appearances
The outcome of Super Bowl LV will play a major role in this one. With a Chiefs win, Mahomes would be "only" four Super Bowl wins behind Brady, and he would become the first QB in NFL history with two Super Bowl wins prior to his 26th birthday. But with a Buccaneers triumph, Brady would win his seventh Super Bowl, giving Mahomes the daunting task of winning six more Lombardi Trophies just to tie Brady. Independent of this Chiefs-Bucs result, though, Mahomes is eight Super Bowl appearances behind Brady's 10. Mahomes, who will be the only quarterback all-time to start two Super Bowls at age 25 or younger, would need to reach the Super Bowl in exactly half of the next 18 seasons to surpass Brady's mark of 10 appearances -- which could theoretically happen at age 43, in the 2038 season.
Four Super Bowl MVPs
As with Super Bowl wins, the result of Super Bowl LV will play a major factor in Mahomes' hunt. Should Mahomes earn his second consecutive Super Bowl MVP, he would become the first player ever to have two of them before turning 26, and he would already be halfway to Brady's total of four. Should Brady earn another one, Mahomes would instead be four behind him. But even that wouldn't be a death sentence: Brady's first Super Bowl MVP came at age 24, just like Mahomes, and Brady didn't earn his second until age 26 (the age Mahomes will turn in September).
33 playoff wins
With a win in Super Bowl LV, Mahomes would match Russell Wilson as the only QBs with seven playoff wins in their first four seasons. But even in that scenario, Mahomes would finish this postseason 26 playoff wins behind Brady. Mahomes has averaged 2.0 playoff wins per season since becoming the starter in 2018, tied with Brady for most in the NFL in that span. If Mahomes manages to keep that torrid pace going, he still would need 14 more years to surpass Brady's 33 playoff wins, giving him the new record at age 39 in the 2034 campaign.
80 playoff passing touchdowns
Stop us if you've heard this one before, but Mahomes is off to a record pace here: His 17 playoff passing TD are the most by any player in his first four seasons. Entering Super Bowl LV, Mahomes is still 63 playoff passing TDs behind Brady. If Mahomes were to keep pace with his record-setting career averages of 2.43 passing touchdowns per playoff start and 2.67 playoff starts per season (including this coming Super Bowl), he would need 10 more seasons to surpass Brady's mark, which would happen at age 35 in the 2030 playoffs.
14 Pro Bowls
In terms of ranks through a QB's first four seasons, Mahomes' three Pro Bowl nods sit behind only Dan Marino's four (though Mahomes has made the Pro Bowl in every season in which he's started more than one game). Mahomes needs 12 more Pro Bowls to surpass the current record of 14, which is jointly held by five people: Brady, Tony Gonzalez, Peyton Manning, Bruce Matthews and Merlin Olsen. If Mahomes keeps his pace of making the Pro Bowl in 75 percent of his seasons, this would happen in the 2036 season, at age 41.
11 consecutive division titles
The Patriots' 11 straight division titles from 2009 through 2019 are an all-time NFL record, and Brady was the starting QB for each one. The Chiefs have already tied the AFC West's record with five straight division titles (matching the 2011-15 Broncos and 1972-76 Raiders), though Mahomes has only been the starter for three of them. If Mahomes leads the Chiefs to seven more consecutive division titles, they would break the Patriots' record in the 2027 season, with Mahomes at age 32. But for Mahomes to have 12 straight division titles as a starter, he would need to win nine more in a row, which would happen in 2029, Mahomes' age-34 season.
Where Mahomes already tops Brady
To his credit, Mahomes already sits above Brady in a number of notable figures. I'll leave you with those:
- Career winning percentage: .826 to .769
- Completion percentage: 66.0 to 64.0
- Passing yards per game: 307.7 to 263.1
- Passing yards per attempt: 8.4 to 7.5
- Touchdown-to-interception ratio: 4.75:1 to 3.04:1
- Passer rating: 108.7 to 97.3
- Passing touchdowns per game: 2.5 to 1.9