Jarrod Thurman @JarrodChiefsFCS Chiefs Focus @Chiefsfocus
In the last two seasons, all we’ve heard is how Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen will be the next great quarterback rivalry. Well, by the time all is said and done, I don’t think that will be the case. I’ve got another quarterback in mind.
Four of the closest games the Chiefs have played in the last two years were against Joe Burrow and the Bengals. Each of these games was decided by exactly 3 points, meanwhile, the last four Chiefs/Bills games have been decided by 10.5 points. With the Mahomes vs Burrow matchups, 3 out of 4 were decided by a late field goal or a field goal in overtime.
Now that’s just the games, what about accomplishments? Every Chiefs fan knows Mahomes’ resume, so I’m not going to go into detail on that, I’ll instead compare the resumes of Josh Allen and Joe Burrow.
Let’s start with playoff success. Burrow has played in one less playoff game than Josh Allen but has more wins (Burrow is 5-2, Allen is 4-4). Allen has made it out of the divisional round once, while Burrow has made the AFC Championship in both of his playoff appearances. Burrow has already been to a Super Bowl, while Josh Allen lost his single AFC Championship game appearance by double digit points. This last one will hurt Chiefs fans, Burrow has beaten the Chiefs in the playoffs, while Allen is 0-2 against the Chiefs in the playoffs. Also, if you compare the teams they each have beaten in their playoff runs, it says a lot too. Allen has never beaten a team with more than 11 wins in the playoffs and 1 of his wins came against a team with 9 wins. While Joe Burrow, 3 of his 5 playoff wins have come against teams with 12 or more wins. Despite making fewer trips to the playoffs, Burrow has been more successful than Allen. In fact, the only quarterback with more playoff wins in the last two seasons than Burrow is Patrick Mahomes.
Now one aspect of the Mahomes/Burrow rivalry people forget about, the Chiefs and Bengals are tied for the 2nd longest playoff losing streaks in NFL history with 8, only the Lions have a longer streak and that is their active 9-game playoff losing streak. The Chiefs and Bengals, prior to adding Burrow and Mahomes respectively, had minimal playoff success from 1990 to 2017, while the Bills played in 4 straight Super Bowls in the time frame. Just compare playoff wins during that 28 season stretch, and you will get the picture: Bills 10, Chiefs 4, Bengals 0. Super Bowl appearances in that time from Bills 4, Chiefs and Bengals 0. Burrow and Mahomes have turned teams that have historically choked in the playoffs into teams that can consistently win playoff games. I’m not trying to downplay what Josh Allen has done with the Bills, but when you compare it to the history of the Bengals and Chiefs (excluding the 60s for the Chiefs and 80s for the Bengals), it doesn’t compare.
Stats are a little more difficult to compare since Allen has been in the NFL for 2 more years than Burrow. The best way to do this would be to compare where Allen was after 42 career games (how many Burrow has played). Comparing both quarterbacks after 42 games, you’ll find Burrow has a 6.6% higher completion percentage, 2,291 more yards, 18 more touchdowns, and a quarterback rating that is 10.6 points higher. The only stat of Allen’s after 42 games that is better is Allen had 1 less interception, that is it. Sure, Allen has better rushing stats which adds a little bit, but the edge stat-wise definitely goes to Burrow.
So, why have I primarily focused on comparing Josh Allen and Joe Burrow for this article versus stating why Burrow/Mahomes is going to be the best quarterback rivalry since Brady/Manning? Well, let’s think about the good historic quarterback rivalries, Brady/Manning, Favre/Young, Bradshaw/Staubach, Starr/Unitas. What have they all had in common? Amazing quarterbacks and loads of regular season and postseason success. I was trying to make the case that Burrow’s success has been closer to Patrick Mahomes’ than Josh Allen’s. Mahomes has by a large margin accomplished more than Burrow, but no other young quarterback I think comes closer to his success than Burrow.
Now, what do I predict for the future of this rivalry? For starters, I think we’ll probably see this matchup more than we saw Manning/Brady just due to the NFL scheduling formula. By the time Mahomes (who I assume will retire first since he has been in the league longer) retires, they will have played about 20 times. They have already played four times in the last two seasons and there will be many more matchups. I believe Mahomes will lead the all-time series by his retirement. Both quarterbacks will have multiple Super Bowls under their belt. I’m projecting Mahomes finishing with 4 or 5 wins maybe 1 or 2 more Super Bowl losses and Burrow I think will win 2 and will also have 1 or 2 more losses as well. We may see a pattern where it’s either Mahomes or Burrow representing the AFC in the Super Bowl for several years in a row.
In 15/20 years, Mahomes/Burrow will be one of the best quarterback rivalries in NFL history. They’re both young and talented quarterbacks with good players around them. Both quarterbacks are beloved by their fan bases and former players of both franchises have rallied around them. These two are set up for many more epic matchups in the future.