And two remained. These will be the shortest rankings of the season and you probably already know who gets to set atop these two person rankings, but I’ll give you my thoughts on their Super Bowl chances and what needs to happen for either to go out in a blaze of glory.
Mahomes didn’t come close to his 50 touchdown season from the previous year, but he continued to play well above the crowd while dealing with a sprained ankle and a dislocated knee cap. When healthy, to start the season, and now in the playoffs, Mahomes has been his normal stat accumulating self. Now he faces a 49ers defense that has gotten statistically worse against the pass as the season progressed. One reason they’ve fallen a bit defensively against the pass is the quality of passing games they’ve faced in the second half of the season, but, we also know that Mahomes is as quality as they come.
In the end, it will be strength versus strength, as the 49ers pass rush, which is one of the best in the league, will need to get to Mahomes to keep him from setting up for explosive pass plays to his speedy receivers. If he has time, no pass defense can hold him down all game.
2. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Garoppolo has been efficient on deep passes, completing 59.5 percent of his passes 15 yards or more downfield, which is the best in the league. I give Kyle Shanahan a lot of credit for helping to manufacture those plays but Garoppolo still must execute and he has when needed. In close games that ended with the 49ers winning or losing by five or fewer points, Garoppolo, of which there were seven, Garoppolo averaged 281 yards, 1.71 TDs, .9 INTs while in the nine games where the differential was higher than five points, he averaged 232 yards, 1.67 TDs, and .78 INTs. This game should be close, and the likelihood of another game where Garoppolo barely throws the ball isn’t high. But, there is more of a chance that Garoppolo throws fewer passes than Mahomes, as the two teams’ offenses rely on different styles.
In the end, there’s no doubt that Mahomes has the better shot of putting up better numbers than Garoppolo, but much will depend on the 49ers defensive line and how well Garoppolo can play if asked to do much more than he is usually asked to do. We’ve seen both put up big numbers in individual games this year, so the ability is there.