The 2021 season is drawing near with the anticipation to see the greatest NFL stars hit the gridiron once again. For Chiefs fans, they will be happy to see some Chiefs football once again, and with a 17-game season, we will be seeing an extra game of this stellar team. The highly anticipated players to see take the field again are Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Tyrann Mathieu, Chris Jones, and who could forget former MVP and Super Bowl MVP, Patrick Mahomes.
Every year, there is a lot of hype surrounding Mahomes and how he’ll perform this season. With a 17-game season, can we see Patrick Mahomes have another MVP caliber season in 2021?
Back To The Past
Before we dive into if he can, let’s go back to the past to when he did to have a baseline for this case. In 2018, when Mahomes won the NFL MVP, he had totaled 383 completions for 5097 yards, 50 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions with an 80.3 QBR and 66.0 completion percentage. He led the league in passing touchdowns and QBR that year.
His receiving cast included the usuals of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. His WR2 was Sammy Watkins (who only played nine games that year) and his WR3 was Chris Conley. His other receivers at the time were Demarcus Robinson, De’Anthony Thomas, and Marcus Kemp. His backup tight ends were Demetrius Harris and Alex Ellis.
In the running game, it was led by Kareem Hunt, who also has seven receiving touchdowns to his name. For depth, the Chiefs had Spencer Ware, Damien Williams, and Darrel Williams. For fullback, it was led by Anthony “Sausage” Sherman.
The offensive line starters included Eric Fisher (LT), Cameron Erving (LG), Mitch Morse (C), Andrew Wylie (RG), and Mitchell Schwartz (RT). Wylie is the only remaining player from the 2018 starting o-line; however, he is no longer a starter for the team.
What He Has Now
Mahomes still has the key contributors in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill who have been improving year by year. The Chiefs now have Clyde Edwards-Helaire starting, and he has proven to be a solid RB1 in his first year. They also have solid depth with Darrell “Barrell” Williams, Jerrick McKinnon, and Darwin Thompson. The WR room still has Demarcus Robinson, a speedster in Mecole Hardman, a promising fifth-round find in Cornell Powell, and an emerging talent in Byron Pringle.
The offensive line has improved drastically with the signings of Joe Thuney, Kyle Long, and Austin Blythe, the trade for Orlando Brown, and the drafting of Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith.
To see if he can achieve another MVP season, we have to gander at if he can achieve highs in some of the main stats that make a QB an MVP in 2021.
Looking back at last season, Mahomes was averaging 316 yards per game, which was the highest in the league in 2020. Mahomes threw for 4,740 yards in only 15 games; if he played the last week of the season, he could’ve easily surpassed 5k in passing yards.
By looking at last year’s averages and the games he played, he could easily have another 5,000-yard year this upcoming season as he didn’t lose much with Sammy Watkins leaving, who only contributed 421 receiving yards last season. While the WR2 isn’t a huge spot in their offense, it’s still a serviceable area that Mahomes will use; whoever takes that spot will have a better season than Watkins did last year if they stay healthy whether it’s Powell, Robinson, Hardman, or Pringle.
Plus, recall that this is now a 17-game season. Mahomes will play the full season unless they clinch a bye in Week 17 where Mahomes will sit out to rest for the playoffs. He will have one more extra opportunity for hitting 5k that he didn’t have in 2018 if he plays. If I could bet, I’d bet that Mahomes hits 5k this season.
Mahomes’ passing touchdown numbers have shrunk over the past two years (2019: 26, 2020: 38). While that may be true, he did place fourth in passing touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers (48), Tom Brady (40), and Russell Wilson (40). As stated before, his main targets in Hill and Kelce are still here.
The touchdowns have decreased due to the running game the Chiefs have now with Helaire, who can eat tackles like a family at Christmas Eve dinner. Williams and McKinnon will help in the rushing end too, which decreases the need to throw a motherlode of times.
Looking back at Mahomes’ touchdown per passes completed percentage, it was a league-high in 2018 at 8.6%. It has gradually decreased but has stayed a solid 6.5% in 2020, which was T-7th with Josh Allen. Of course, his touchdown numbers would have to increase a decent amount for him to be highly considered in the MVP race.
I’d say he could hit 40+ this season with the added game as he was just two touchdowns short of 40 in 2020. One game could’ve easily made the difference. Having 40+ would put him higher in the MVP standings once voting commences.
In terms of rushing touchdowns, he has been consistent, running for two touchdowns each season since 2018. I don’t see that changing no matter how many games he starts.
Mahomes must keep his interceptions numbers low to be able to stay in the running for MVP. In 2020, Rodgers had five compared to Mahomes’ six, so he has been able to keep it low since 2018 where he had 12 interceptions that year. He has had 11 interceptions in the past two seasons.
With another game added, it gives him more margin for error in terms of interceptions. However, it shouldn’t be concerned about as Mahomes threw for one percent in the percentage of times intercepted when throwing a pass, which was tied for first with Aaron Rodgers in 2020. Even in this pass-heavy offense, Mahomes has been able to keep the turnovers low.
Interceptions happen; there has never been a QB who has started over 15 games and has not thrown one. Mahomes will be able to keep this stat low and will make sure interceptions aren’t a concern to him next season.
To be the MVP, you have to win games; that’s obvious. This will be the shortest point as Mahomes has proven that he can do just that, going 37-8 in the regular season in three years starting, and winning 14 games in 2020. The winning side of this isn’t an issue. Clinching the first seed again, however, would provide a step up for Mahomes in the MVP totem pole.
While the Chiefs have the T-11th toughest schedule, they’ll still find ways to pull out a W; they are a hard team to beat.
With everything laid out, Mahomes has the tools and skills (of course) to have yet another MVP. He will undoubtedly be coming for blood after what happened this past February, so it will be exciting to see what he could do this upcoming season!
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