NFL

Super Bowl LV: Why Mahomes is primed to end NFL's longest wait for a repeat champion

By Sports Desk February 03, 2021

There are always fascinating storylines around a Super Bowl clash, but Tom Brady facing off against his heir apparent Patrick Mahomes might be as good as it gets.

Six-time Super Bowl champion Brady will look to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers become the first team to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy on home soil this Sunday, in his first season with the team.

To do that the Bucs must find a way to derail the Chiefs, who are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since Brady and the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004.

Stats Perform's NFL research analyst Ethan Cooperson will be in the commentary booth as part of CBS' broadcast crew with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo in Florida.

He has outlined the history behind the longest-ever NFL streak without a repeat Super Bowl winner.

Cooperson told Stats Perform News: "So we have the drought without a repeat Super Bowl champion goes back to the Patriots of '03 and '04. 

"It's actually the longest drought in NFL history, going back to the days before there were even postseason games.

"Then, the champion was just determined by the league standings before there were Super Bowls and there was just an NFL championship game and then later an AFL championship game."

Cooperson has detailed the reasons why Mahomes is likely to help the Chiefs end the long drought, even if it does not happen this year.
 
Mahomes' legacy is winning

The 2018 NFL MVP and 2019 Super Bowl MVP is well known for his spectacular plays and outrageous throws from all angles.

Cooperson, though, points to his incredible win-loss record as something which has him on a historic trajectory.

While such a win rate is tough to sustain, if anyone can, it is Mahomes.

"Keep in mind Brady has never won back to back Super Bowl MVPs, Mahomes has a chance to do that," Cooperson said to Stats Perform News.

"No one has done that since Terry Bradshaw over 40 years ago. 

"To achieve what Mahomes has achieved at his age is phenomenal. There is no quarterback who has started two Super Bowls and won an MVP while 25 or younger. 

"The only player to do that is [Dallas Cowboys running back] Emmitt Smith. 

"Mahomes is now going to be the first quarterback - for him to have done this at such a young age and to have the success is phenomenal. 

"He has a 44-9 record, so that's an .830 winning percentage, regular season and playoffs. That's the highest all time for any quarterback with at least 50 starts, Otto Graham is second and Brady is third. 

"So the legacy, as much as we love the aerial display, the amazing throws that he makes, the improbable throws that he makes, Mahomes is a phenomenal winner. 

"We can't overlook that he's winning games at a higher rate than Brady. I don't know if that kind of an .800 winning percentage is sustainable, but there's no reason right now why it shouldn't be."

Chiefs are starting a new cycle

The rise of analytics is changing the NFL – just look at how many more teams are going for it on fourth down these days.

Another change resulting from data is a better understanding of the value of passing the ball, as opposed to the traditional strategy of establishing the run or having a balanced offense.

Even a middling passing offense is more efficient on a play-by-play basis than a league-leading rushing attack.

That trend suits the league-leading passing attack - with Mahomes and some amazing Chiefs firepower deployed by Andy Reid - perfectly.

Cooperson continued: "It's worth noting there's been one team to lead the league in passing offense and win the Super Bowl in that same season. 

"That's what the Chiefs are trying to do, it has only happened once in the Super Bowl era with the 1999 Rams. 

"This is again perhaps a different era now that a team that's maybe dominant on offense and dominant in the passing game is going to be an elite team.

"This is shifting now and Mahomes is bringing in this new era of passing teams winning.

"We are [near a Chiefs dynasty] and it's interesting, though, that the Patriots dynasty, if we call it that for all those years, was not built around a slew of Hall of Fame players. 

"It was really Brady and an ever-changing, supporting cast, though Rob Gronkowski came in in the last decade and he's a bit of an exception to that. 

"The Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 70s, they won four Super Bowls in six seasons, Hall of Fame players at almost every position. 

"The Patriots of today were nothing like that. The Chiefs are a little bit more based on star power because they've got a superstar tight end in Travis Kelce, a star wide receiver in Tyreek Hill. 

"It's a different type of team but it's a team that's going to be built to score points for many years to come."

The league of the quarterbacks

It has always been hard for NFL teams to create a dynasty due to the draft system, salary cap and free agency constantly rearranging the pecking order.

However, with the modern game now more reliant on quarterback play more than ever before, having a dominant player at the position like Mahomes moves the needle to a greater degree than it may have done even five or 10 years ago.

Cooperson added: "So clearly, in this age of free agency, with players changing teams, it's difficult to keep teams together and to sustain excellence. 

"I do, however, think that the way the league has become quarterback dominated that so much of the game now is based on having a great QB and then building and building your team from there. 

"I don't know that it's going to stay this difficult to repeat as champions, certainly. You would think that any team with Mahomes for the next 10, 15 years is going to be at least a contender to repeat. 

"I don't think this drought will continue. It might continue this year, but I think that soon enough we'll see a team, very possibly the Chiefs, repeating as Super Bowl champions. 

"Since the Patriots repeated in the '03 and '04 seasons, only two defending champs have even reached the Super Bowl. 

"It was the Seattle Seahawks, who lost to the Patriots, and the Patriots who lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. Both of those teams led the game in the fourth quarter but could not hold on. 

"So only two teams since then have even gotten this far, it's just been such a tall order over these years. 

"The Patriots have had excellent teams that could not repeat as champions. I don't doubt, though, that Mahomes will be the guy to do it, and if not this time, then maybe soon after this."

Related items

  • Austin mount comeback against Rapids, DC United win eight-goal thriller Austin mount comeback against Rapids, DC United win eight-goal thriller

    Austin FC held on for a hard-fought 3-2 victory against the Colorado Rapids away from home, surviving the final 15 minutes with 10 men red card.

    The win required a major comeback after Lalas Abubakar put the Rapids ahead in the 19th minute and the hosts then doubled their advantage three minutes later with a Jonathan Lewis strike.

    Austin pegged one back in the 28th minute when Ethan Finlay struck from just inside the area, and the sides went in all square at 2-2 when Sebastian Driussi equalised in first-half stoppage time.

    The visitors thought they had completed their comeback in the 52nd minute, only for Maximiliano Urruti's goal to be ruled out, but that decision merely delayed the celebrations as Urriti scored again seven minutes later.

    The turnaround continued a remarkable trend for Austin, who have now won two and drawn two of the five games in which they have trailed my multiple goals this season, losing just once.

    They held out this time despite Kipp Keller's dismissal for a second yellow card in the 75th minute, after which Colorado dominated 81.4 per cent of the possession and hit the post through Michael Barrios but could not find an equaliser.

    Elsewhere, the LA Galaxy pummelled CF Montreal 4-0 in an effective counter-attacking display.

    Javier Hernandez opened the scoring for the Galaxy, Dejan Jovelic doubled the lead from the penalty spot, and Rayan Raveloson grabbed a second-half brace to complete the rout.

    Inter Miami left it late to draw with FC Dallas, netting an 88th-minute equaliser through substitute Leonardo Campana, and there was also late drama in DC United's highly entertaining 5-3 win at Orlando City.

    A hat-trick from Taxiarchis Fountas had DC 3-0 up early in the second half, yet an Orlando recovery meant Alexandre Pato's penalty cut that lead to 4-3 with 10 minutes to play.

    Rather than collapse, though, United made sure of victory with a 96th-minute goal from Nigel Robertha.

  • Wimbledon: Nadal and Halep thrilled to partake in 'beautiful' Centre Court centenary celebrations Wimbledon: Nadal and Halep thrilled to partake in 'beautiful' Centre Court centenary celebrations

    Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep claimed victories on Centre Court on Monday, a day on from celebrating the venue's centenary.

    Nadal and Halep were among a host of champions, including Roger Federer and last year's winner Novak Djokovic, to stand on Centre Court on Sunday for a celebration of its 100th anniversary.

    A day later, they were back at the venue to seal their respective progressions to the quarter-finals.

    Halep, Wimbledon champion in 2019, defeated fourth seed Paula Badosa 6-1 6-2, while Nadal overcame Botic van de Zandschulp 6-4 6-2 7-6 (8-6).

    Of female players still competing on the WTA Tour, only Serena Williams (14) and Venus Williams (13) have reached more Wimbledon quarter-finals than Halep (five), who will face Amanda Anisimova in the last eight.

    Nadal, meanwhile, has now played 350 matches at grand slams – a total bettered only by Federer and Djokovic.

    The 22-time grand slam winner was made to work for victory in the third set by Van de Zandschulp, but having overcome a wobble, went on to secure his 18th straight major match win of 2022.

    Asked about being given the honour of taking to Centre Court on Sunday, Nadal said: "Yesterday was a beautiful thing sharing the court with legends of our sport.

    "Centre Court for 100 years is something very special."

    It was a sentiment echoed by Halep, who is looking to reach her first grand slam semi-final since the 2020 Australian Open and has not dropped a set so far at Wimbledon this year.

    "Definitely it was a place I wanted to be today. I think I played a great match," she said. "It was a pleasure to be back on Centre Court with this great crowd supporting me.

    "I missed it a lot, three years was a [long time].  Yesterday I was on the court with all the champions and it was amazing. I was more nervous than I was today."

    Next up for Nadal is Taylor Fritz, who beat the Spaniard in their last meeting in the final of the Indian Wells Masters earlier this season.

    While Nadal is into his eighth Wimbledon quarter-final – and his 47th at a grand slam, a tally that lags behind only Djokovic (53) and Federer (58) – Fritz has never reached the last eight of a major before.

    "In a personal way, for me to be able to be in quarter-finals after three years, it's amazing for me, so I'm very, very happy," said Nadal, who is hunting the calendar Grand Slam in 2022.

    "Every match is different," he added of his tie against Fritz, which he anticipates being tricky.

    "He is playing well and having a very good year, including a first Masters 1000 title, against me by the way, but we will be in the quarter-final of Wimbledon, so what should I expect?"

  • Wimbledon: Nadal dispatches Van de Zandschulp to set up Fritz rematch Wimbledon: Nadal dispatches Van de Zandschulp to set up Fritz rematch

    Rafael Nadal will face Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon after marking his 350th grand slam match with a win over Botic van de Zandschulp.

    Nadal is in the hunt for a clean sweep of the majors this season and the two-time Wimbledon champion remained on course with Monday's victory, though he ultimately needed a third-set tie-break to get the job done 6-4 6-2 7-6 (8-6).

    The 36-year-old's wobble lasted the whole third set, with Nadal squandering the chance to serve out the victory before he gave up three match points.

    But Nadal would not let a fourth opportunity slip from his grasp, and Fritz, who beat Jason Kubler in straight sets, is next up.

    The American won his last meeting with Nadal, defeating the great Spaniard in the Indian Wells Masters earlier this season.

    Nadal set the tone by forcing Van de Zandschulp to salvage two break points in the Dutchman's first service game.

    Set one went Nadal's way with under 45 minutes played when he claimed the match's first break, and Van de Zandschulp was swiftly 2-0 down at the start of the second, which the Spaniard went on to dominate.

    The 22-time grand slam champion endured a wobble at the start of the third when he squandered a 40-0 lead on his own serve.

    Nadal struck straight back, and a second break followed when the world number four reeled off an exquisite, cushioned cross-court winner.

    Yet Van de Zandschulp was handed a reprieve, with a double fault and some sloppy shots seeing Nadal fail to serve out the win.

    Nadal seemed to have the edge in the tie-break when he came out on top in a wicked rally, yet he saw three match points escape before, finally, an overhit Van de Zandschulp volley sent him into an eighth Wimbledon quarter-final.

    Data slam: Another milestone up for Nadal

    Nadal has now played in 350 singles matches at grand slam events, becoming just the third man to do so in the Open Era, behind fellow greats Novak Djokovic (378) and Roger Federer (429).

    He has won his first 18 grand slam matches in 2022. In the Open Era, only Djokovic (last year) and Rod Laver (1969) have won more matches at the majors from the start of the season. ​

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Nadal – 29/17
    Van de Zandschulp – 31/34

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Nadal – 9/2
    Van de Zandschulp – 11/7

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Nadal – 5/11
    Van de Zandschulp – 2/4

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.