Tom Brady's huge late-career success means his legacy is already "set apart" from greats in other sports such as Michael Jordan, according to Stats Perform's NFL research analyst Ethan Cooperson.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brady will take on the Kansas City Chiefs, who are led by his heir apparent Patrick Mahomes, in Super Bowl LV on Sunday.

The Bucs are looking to become the first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl in their own stadium.

Cooperson will be in the commentary booth as part of the CBS broadcast crew with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo in Florida.

He believes the accomplishments of Brady, who is 43 and in his first season with Tampa Bay, separate him from many of the historic greats produced by the NBA, NHL and MLB.

Brady will be playing in his 10th Super Bowl and targeting his seventh title overall, with Cooperson highlighting none of his previous six crowns came in what should have been considered his prime.

Cooperson told Stats Perform News: "How much more can he add to his legacy? 

"It's hard to extend and it is already incomparable. To do it at his age is now another phase of that, but he's already won Super Bowls after the age of 40. 

"It's almost hard to comprehend because he's already done so much.

"It's curious that he's won the six Super Bowls and you can make a case that he didn't win any in the prime of his career, a nine-year period between ages of 28 and 36. 

"He won three of them by the age of 27 and he's now looking for his fourth after the age of 37. 

"There is one thing that we looked at, some of the great champions, the great players, the great winners and in some other sports. 

"So we looked at Bill Russell with the Celtics, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Derek Jeter. Those four won a combined 26 championships. They didn't win any after the age of 36, none. 

"And Brady is going for his fourth after this age. So he's doing something that the greats in these other sports didn't come close to doing. 

"That's why you say his legacy, I think that's what we could say would set him apart, already has set him apart and will continue to when you compare it to some of the greats in the other sports."

Amid the awe at Brady reaching the Super Bowl, Cooperson highlighted how there was a significant stretch of the 2020 season where things were not going smoothly for the Bucs, leaving Brady in unfamiliar statistical territory.

Cooperson added: "It's important to remember that this year for Brady in Tampa Bay, it was not a smooth ride from the start. It was not a straight path to what they have achieved.

"Remember that Week 5 in Chicago, he apparently forgot what down it was, threw an incomplete pass on fourth down and thought he still had another down to play with. 

"He suffered a 35-point home loss to the Saints, it's the largest loss of his career, and that started a run of three straight home losses, which he had never done before. 

"So at the point when they were 7-5 and had lost to Kansas City, certainly it was unclear where this was going for Tampa Bay." 

However, Cooperson highlighted the areas where Brady and Tampa have made the required improvements to spark their run to the big game.

"And what's happened since then, they had a bye week, and since then they've gone 7-0," he said.

"Brady's average is over 300 passing yards per game. That's the regular season and playoffs, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. 

"So this was almost a case of, for three months, this team was sort of finding itself. Brady was sort of finding himself. 

"There was a lot of talk that [coach] Bruce Arians was insisting on throwing the ball deep and it wasn't working.

"So to that point through the end of November, on deep passes, 20 or more yards downfield, Brady had four touchdowns, five interceptions.

"Since that bye week, on those deep passes, it's 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. So at some point, it started to click. It started to work.

"It wasn't perfect from the start, but it's almost as if even at age 43, Brady is learning their offense and it's not clicking right away, but by the end of it, it is clicking."

Just two days from now, a significantly reduced number of flashbulbs will fly and the talking will stop with the opening kick-off of Super Bowl LV.

One way or another, history will be made, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looking to become the first team to win the Super Bowl at their home stadium and the Kansas City Chiefs out to retain the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Should the latter succeed, Patrick Mahomes will not only deny Tom Brady a record-extending seventh Super Bowl triumph but he will also break his counterpart's record as the youngest starting quarterback to win multiple titles. Brady won his second at 26, Mahomes does not turn 26 until September.

But which areas of the game will have the biggest impact on who is celebrating making history once the dust settles on a unique NFL season?

Here, using Stats Perform data, we look at where the game could be won.

Explosive plays potentially decisive

The Chiefs have established themselves as the most devastating offensive team in the NFL. Drawing comparisons to the NBA's Golden State Warriors at the peak of their powers, the Chiefs' ability to score deluges of points helps them put games to bed in a hurry.

Tampa Bay learned that the hard way in the regular-season meeting between these two teams back in Week 12 when the Chiefs surged into a 17-0 lead en route to a 27-24 win.

Mahomes had 229 passing yards in the first quarter while Tyreek Hill had 203 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the same period.

The Buccaneers simply cannot afford to have the Chiefs get such a jump on them this time around and, if they are to successfully go toe to toe with the champions, they will need to maintain their tendency for quick strikes.

Nine of Tampa's 10 touchdown drives in the postseason have been under four minutes. In the regular season, they had 41 touchdown drives lasting fewer than four minutes and nine in which they scored in under 30 seconds, no other team had more than five.

Combining the regular season and the postseason, the Bucs lead the NFL with 90 plays of 20 yards or more compared to 88 for the Chiefs. However, the Chiefs led the way in the regular season with 79, while their 17 offensive touchdowns of 20 yards or more were tied with the Las Vegas Raiders for most in the NFL.

Whoever hits on the most explosive plays this time around will likely be lifting the trophy.

Can Bucs get home with four?

Given what Hill did to the Buccaneers' defense in the regular-season meeting, the Bucs may well largely avoid blitzing Patrick Mahomes in order to devote as many players to coverage as possible.

Thankfully that plays to the strength of their outstanding defensive line, which has done an excellent job of getting to the quarterback with only four pass rushers.

Indeed, in the postseason, the 51 pass plays on which the Buccaneers have blitzed have delivered two sacks and one interception.

The 83 plays where they have not blitzed have resulted in five sacks and four interceptions.

Edge rushers Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul are tied for the most pressures in the playoffs with 15 apiece. If they can get after Mahomes without blitzing and the seven defenders playing coverage can keep Hill and Travis Kelce relatively in check, the Bucs will be well-placed for victory.

Will 'Playoff Lenny' deliver again?

For all the hype around their remarkable offense, the Chiefs' defense remains underrated.

It was pivotal in closing out the Super Bowl LIV win over the San Francisco 49ers and the numbers suggest it has a strong chance of frustrating Brady.

Brady has a potent group of wide receivers to target, but the Chiefs have been one of the best teams in the league at defending wideouts.

They allowed 178 receptions to opposing receivers in 2020, giving up an average of 140.3 yards per game, putting the Chiefs second in the NFL in each of those areas.

Kansas City conceded 15 receiving touchdowns to wideouts, the Chiefs ranking tied-ninth in that category.

In the playoffs, the Chiefs are allowing just 4.78 yards per pass but have been much more susceptible to the run, opponents gaining 6.03 yards per rush.

The Bucs could, therefore, have to look to their running game, led by Leonard Fournette, to have success on offense.

Earning the moniker 'Playoff Lenny', Fournette has enjoyed a stunning postseason. After averaging 46.2 yards from scrimmage in the regular season, he is putting up 104.3 yards from scrimmage per game in the playoffs.

The run game might not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking at how to beat the Chiefs but, should Kansas City keep the receivers under wraps, the Bucs might have to turn to it.

Bucs must stand tall in the red zone

Regardless of what the Buccaneers do on offense, they will likely be fighting an uphill battle if they cannot end their recent struggles making red-zone stops.

In their last six games, the Buccaneers have allowed scores on all 19 of their opponents' drives inside the 20-yard line (12 touchdowns and seven field goals).

Looking solely at their three postseason games, the Bucs have given up scores on all 10 red-zone drives, with the breakdown of those a little more even with six touchdowns and four field goals.

Keeping the Chiefs to the latter will be crucial but that is easier said than done.

The Chiefs scored touchdowns on 57.8 per cent of their red-zone possessions in the regular season. That number ranked 16th in the NFL but it has ballooned to 73.1 in the playoffs as they have scored touchdowns on 19 of 26 trips inside the 20.

Kansas City turned a potentially mouth-watering AFC Championship Game with the Buffalo Bills into a mismatch by scoring on five of their six red-zone possessions, only failing to score on the final one because Mahomes took a knee to run out the clock.

If the Bucs cannot stop the Chiefs from being similarly clinical on Sunday, the Lombardi Trophy will again be making the journey back to Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce said the reigning NFL champions are not focused on "legendary" Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady heading into Super Bowl LV.

The Chiefs will be looking to claim back-to-back Super Bowl honours when they face Brady's Buccaneers in the NFL showpiece in Tampa on Sunday.

No player has won more Super Bowl titles or appeared in more NFL showpieces than six-time champion Brady, who has more playoff wins since turning 35 (17) than any other quarterback has in his entire career, per Stats Perform.

It will be Brady's fifth Super Bowl since turning 37 – tying the most appearances in a championship game/series by any player in any major North American sport, alongside NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and MLB great Roger Clemens, while he is only one of three athletes in North American sport to make three championship appearances at age 40 or older.

Chiefs tight end Kelce was asked about facing Brady and Rob Gronkowski, and the six-time Pro Bowler told reporters on Thursday: "When you're going up against a great quarterback like Tom Brady is, how legendary he's been in games like this, you just have to be able to control what you can control.

"That's what we do on the offensive side of the ball. We preach situational football, taking care of the football, winning the turnover battle. Things like that are things we can control as an offense.

"Going up against a high-powered offense like that, that's the key, you have to put up six points more than you're putting up three but at the end of the day, putting points on the board so you give yourself a chance in the fourth quarter."

The Buccaneers will be the first team to host a Super Bowl on home soil, but as big of an advantage as Arrowhead Stadium can be for the Chiefs, they have won 12 consecutive away games – one of the longest such streaks in NFL history, only behind the New England Patriots (15 between 2016-17) and San Francisco 49ers (21 between 1988-1990).

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid could also become the seventh coach to win back-to-back Super Bowls, and could also move into fourth place for all-time playoff victories – he is tied for 17 with Joe Gibbs, and behind leader Bill Belichick (31), Tom Landry (20) and Don Shula (19).

The Chiefs are also trying to become the eighth NFL franchise to claim the Lombardi trophy in consecutive seasons.

"I'm aware of it because the media, and I'm old, so I've heard it and seen it before with my own eyes," Reid said when asked about the milestones.

"But when you're in the middle of it, I don't think you appreciate it as much. Maybe when you're doing with the whole thing and look back on it, you can appreciate it more.

"But we're just scrambling from one drill to another drill, to a meeting, another meeting, making sure we are taking care of our media obligations."

Tom Brady believes "everybody in their next life wishes they can come back as Rob Gronkowski" as the superstar duo aim to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to glory at Super Bowl LV.  

Legendary quarterback Brady and tight end Gronkowski forged a strong bond as part of the dynasty that dominated the NFL for so long at the New England Patriots. 

Gronkowski retired after the 2018 season but, after just one campaign out of the game, the lure of playing alongside his long-time friend in Tampa proved too strong to resist. 

Now Gronkowski has the chance of a fourth Super Bowl ring, while Brady is attempting to win a seventh. 

Speaking at a news conference previewing Sunday's showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs, Brady was asked by Gronkowski's girlfriend, Camille Kostek, for an inside track on what it is like playing together. 

"You know what he's super excited because he feels so good, he's played 20 games this year so it's the most I think he's ever played his career," Brady said.  

"He's one of the most unique people, as you know, just being around him. He's so positive I think everybody wishes in their next life they can come back as Rob just because he's got such a great personality about him, just his way of being positive and he's a real high achiever.  

"He's very competitive, and I see the competitive nature, the determination like, when you're down and out, you want him with you. And I think that speaks to him as a team-mate and as a person. And I love playing with him.  

"You know I've known him for a long time, and I'm just so proud of all his accomplishments. He's an amazing guy. And I know, for both of us, we rely on each other a lot for different things. And I'll be looking for him this Sunday so that's the most important thing."

At the age of 43, Brady is about as experienced as it gets when it comes to preparing for the Super Bowl. 

But he is under no illusions as to the size of the task the Buccaneers face against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on Sunday. 

"It's a slow build I think for this game because it's two weeks of prep," he added.  

"You feel out the physical stuff. You're pretty much done at this point. And at this point it's just going through in your head, different situations, scenarios, all your different calls that you'd have, just trying to think about how they're going to play us.  

"And then, again, I think that's where the mental prep, you really can't leave any stone unturned at this point. Friday, Saturday, Sunday just over three days left in the season. So, 72 hours.  

"And, you know, you got to use it all and use it to the maximum, because this is a game that's really going to challenge us as a team, it's a very tough team to beat. They haven't been beaten in a long time.  

"They've got a great offense, got a great defense, really well coached. We have to be in a good place out there and compete and get ready for a great game. So, it's a long game, it's a hard game, it's a long day. But you got to be ready when the ball's kicked off and we're going to be challenged. They're going to challenge us and we are going to answer the challenge."

An NFL season unlike any other concludes on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet in a Super Bowl with a difference.  

The Bucs have home advantage as they bid to make history – no team has ever before played for the Lombardi Trophy in their own stadium – but there will be no full house present to watch the action unfold. In a campaign shaped by the coronavirus pandemic, there will be more cardboard cut-outs in attendance than real fans.   

As for the game itself, Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes is box office viewing. Both have supporting casts that can accentuate their talent, giving us a battle between two quarterbacks at opposite ends of their NFL careers but with the same goal: Win one more ring.   

Then there are the head coaches. Andy Reid, who couldn't win the big games, until he actually did. Bruce Arians, who retired from coaching, until he came back. They have continued to work through unprecedented times in the league, where protocols have dictated daily schedules and the only talk of two-a-days referred to COVID-19 testing, rather than practices.    

Adapting to their specific situations has been the key to getting this far, according to former NFL head coach Brian Billick, now working for NFL Media. 

"They evolve, they do what their players do best," Billick said on a conference call. "Certainly, Andy Reid has morphed that offense around Patrick Mahomes. He's been able to adapt exactly to the talents. 

"Bruce Arians is the same way, the things that he's doing with the experience of Tom Brady and the big play presence on the outside. They adapt, specifically to the type of players that they have around them."

After starting out in the NFL in a number of roles with Green Bay, Reid had success in charge of the Philadelphia Eagles – he remains top of their all-time list for wins - without ever managing to secure the franchise a first Super Bowl. The narrative of coming up short in the postseason continued in Kansas City, but eventually – thanks to a fourth-quarter comeback – he got over the hump.   

The Super Bowl triumph in 2020 ended any suggestion that Reid's Hall-of-Fame career required a ring for validation. Since then, he has appeared to be playing with house money.   

Depending on what unfolds on the field this weekend, the fourth-down call against the Cleveland Browns may well remain the lasting memory of this playoff run for Kansas City. Minus Mahomes and defending a five-point lead late in the game, a hard count by stand-in quarterback Chad Henne seemed the prelude to a punt. 

Hold what you have and hope to hang on, right? Not for Reid, who went all in. 

Knowing a first down would seal victory and a place in the AFC Championship Game, he allowed Henne to snap the ball while in the shotgun, wait briefly for Tyreek Hill to break on his shallow route and then fire in a pass to the wide receiver. The risk was great, but so too was the reward.  

Had Arians been in a similar situation, he too may have gone for it. A cancer survivor, the 68-year-old is known for his "No risk it, no biscuit" way of thinking, both in terms of his coaching philosophy and life in general.  

The Buccaneers certainly pushed all their chips into the middle of the table for this season, too. The seemingly unthinkable became reality when Brady walked away from the New England Patriots to start afresh in 'Tompa Bay', a move that tempted the retired Rob Gronkowski to put away the wrestling pants and don the football pads again. 

There were teething problems, as to be expected, yet Arians always insisted the team was learning on the fly, adjusting from week to week with a new starting quarterback – even one as good as Brady. 

However, the Bucs have been on a roll since their bye week. Four straight victories in which they amassed a combined total of 148 points to finish the regular season were followed by playoff triumphs on the road in Washington, New Orleans – who had previously beaten them twice – and then finally Green Bay.  

Arians went close to making a Super Bowl in his previous head coaching job in Arizona, losing in the NFC Championship Game. When he left in 2017, his future appeared to be in television working as an analyst.  

Then the Bucs called. 

Convincing both him and his wife Christine that it was the right move, he made a comeback. The arrival of Brady for his second season in charge changed the timeline, requiring Arians to use his man-management skills - "I'm not a father figure. I'm the cool uncle you'd like to have a drink with" - to bring it all together. 

The presence of a great quarterback on the rosters for both franchises should not overshadow what their coaches have achieved. Arians has ironed out the wrinkles in time while allowing Brady to turn back the clock in terms of airing the ball out. Reid's biggest issue in the regular season seemed to be finding a suitable face mask to wear, yet he could still see how to put Mahomes in situations that allowed him to dazzle.  

Arians and Reid have prevailed in hugely different circumstances but with the same positive outlook. Despite all that is on the line, you should expect both to be ready to gamble in the bid for glory. 

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."

Do you believe in unlikelihoods?  

It's unclear how familiar Patrick Mahomes is with the underdog story of 'Average Joes' in the movie 'Dodgeball', but reflecting on his first three seasons as a starter in the NFL, it's fair to assume his answer to the question posed by fictitious ESPN anchor Cotton McKnight would be an emphatic yes. 

Since the Kansas City Chiefs installed Mahomes as the starter in 2018, he has turned achieving the unlikely into an art form. 

From a league MVP award in his first season, three double-digit playoff comebacks and a Super Bowl MVP in his second, Mahomes has defined himself as a quarterback for whom the seemingly impossible always appears well within his grasp.

On Sunday, he will attempt to become the first quarterback to win back-to-back Super Bowls since his Tampa Bay Buccaneers counterpart Tom Brady achieved the feat at the end of the 2004 season. 

It would be a fitting way to cap arguably the most remarkable three-season spell by any quarterback in NFL history, and here we examine the numbers behind his stratospheric rise.

Pre-draft concerns prove inaccurate

When Mahomes entered the NFL Draft, he was viewed as a prospect with phenomenal upside but one whose unorthodox, gunslinging style risked inefficiency and turnovers at the highest level. 

The Chiefs were undeterred by such concerns, however, taking a significant gamble in trading up from 27th in the first round to select the former Texas Tech standout with the 10th overall pick.

It is a move that has been overwhelmingly justified, with any doubts over his accuracy completely quashed.

Mahomes ranks first in completions all-time among quarterbacks in their first three full seasons (which is defined as a campaign where a quarterback attempts at least 100 passes). He has connected on 1,092 of his passes, doing so at a completion percentage of 66.1 that, using the same criteria, puts him sixth all-time. 

Only five quarterbacks have hit their team-mates more consistently in their first three full seasons, but there are none that have done a better job of avoiding turnovers and putting the ball in the end zone.

Prolific and protective of the ball

First in passing yards among quarterbacks in their first three full seasons with 13,868, Mahomes also leads the way in touchdown passes. 

He has 114 TD throws through the air while being intercepted on just 23 occasions during that same span. That disparity gives him the all-time lead with a touchdown to interception ratio of 4.96.

What is even more impressive is that Mahomes has largely succeeded in taking care of the ball despite being very aggressive in pushing it downfield. 

His yards per attempt average of 8.39 is fifth all-time among signal-callers in their first three full seasons, while for his career he is the all-time leader in adjusted net yards per attempt (8.49). 

The combination of Mahomes' high yards per attempt, impressive completion percentage and unmatched TD-INT ratio has left him without an equal in the most widely used measure of quarterback performance.

Unprecedented early success

Passer rating is viewed by many as an imperfect metric when it comes to analysing quarterbacks, but the fact Mahomes is the all-time leader with a rating of 109.3 across his first three full seasons is illustrative of the utter dominance he has enjoyed to this point. 

Mahomes also boasts the highest career passer rating in the regular season (108.7) and the postseason (109.8) and it is his incredible level of performance in the playoffs that has ensured he will be the first quarterback in the NFL to start multiple Super Bowls aged 25 or younger. 

Should the Chiefs prevail, the 25-year-old will break Brady's record and become the youngest starting quarterback to win multiple Super Bowls, Brady having claimed his second at the age of 26. 

It was a scenario few envisaged when he left Texas Tech, but the Chiefs had the foresight to understand he was a talent that could elevate them to the league's elite.

The devastating impact and speed with which he did so was what took the league by surprise, yet few are now shocked by the exploits of a player who makes the amazing look startlingly routine. 

There is perhaps no greater sign of the aura Mahomes has quickly established than the fact he and the Chiefs are favoured to deny the man regarded as the greatest quarterback ever a seventh Lombardi Trophy. 

Super Bowl LV will not be an underdog story for Mahomes and there are unlikely to be many rubbing their eyes in disbelief on Sunday if, as he has done so often, he delivers yet another tale of the unexpected.

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid believes Patrick Mahomes can be as influential as LeBron James and impact the world.

Los Angeles Lakers star James has helped lead the fight for racial equality and social justice.

Reid believes Mahomes, who is preparing for the Chiefs' Super Bowl LV clash against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, can be as influential as the four-time NBA champion and four-time MVP.

"Yeah, absolutely. I think he's got a way about him where he understands people and they are interested in things he has to say, or back, and believe in," he told a news conference on Tuesday.

"So, I think that presents yourself with a good combination to whatever platform that you want to support or take, that you have that ability."

Mahomes, 25, has already won a Super Bowl to go with a Super Bowl MVP and NFL MVP honours.

The quarterback said James was one of the athletes he had modelled himself on.

"There's a lot of great athletes that are doing things the right way. LeBron is one of them. He's someone that I can talk to and get advice from but there's others too," Mahomes said.

"There's a ton of people that are using their voice to make a difference in this world.

"I try and take from them and kind of use my own voice in my own way to make an impact in my community."

Bruce Arians said he envisioned a trip to the Super Bowl after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed "missing piece" Tom Brady.

The Buccaneers are preparing for their first Super Bowl since 2003 as they look ahead to facing the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Brady, meanwhile, will be playing his 10th Super Bowl and looking for his seventh win. No other player has even featured in the game seven times.

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said the Super Bowl was on his mind after the team landed Brady.

"I thought that was the missing piece and then Jason [Licht, general manager] did such a great job of adding pieces as we went along [with] Rob [Gronkowski], Leonard [Fournette], Antonio [Brown] and other guys. Ross Cockrell has been one of the best pickups we've had the entire season," he told a news conference on Tuesday.

"So yeah, I thought it was possible and that was our goal, because I knew how good of a football team we had and what we were missing.

"We were missing that belief that we were good enough."

The Buccaneers will be the first team to play a Super Bowl at their home stadium.

They are the fifth team all-time to win three road games in a single postseason, and three of the four before them won the Super Bowl.

Asked about Brady's passion for winning, Arians said the quarterback's approach impacted the whole team.

"I think the great quarterbacks all have it. They have the ability to will themselves on other people to make sure that everybody has bought in to the cause," he said.

"The cause is a ring – putting a championship in your trophy case. Tom brings that attitude every single day and it permeates through the entire locker room."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is aiming to surpass "idol" Michael Jordan by winning his seventh Super Bowl ring.

No player has won more Super Bowl titles or appeared in more NFL showpieces than six-time champion Brady, who will lead the Buccaneers against reigning champions the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Sunday.

Chicago Bulls and NBA great Jordan also won six championship rings during his Hall of Fame basketball career.

As Brady stands on the cusp of a seventh Lombardi trophy, the 43-year-old superstar told reporters on Monday: "Michael [Jordan] is one of my sports idols.

"I think he's pretty incredible and for me it's just about being a part of great teams.

"To have the opportunity to play in this game means a lot to me. It's a lot of commitment and sacrifice by a lot of guys.

"Obviously we're one game away from the ultimate goal in this sport. I've been a part of that ultimate goal six other times so they are all different and have all meant something a little different to me. They've all been unique in their own way. 

"It would be cool to accomplish it this time, I don't compare them to the other times, those were all magical moment of my life and no one can ever take those away from me.

"Hopefully we can finish this season strong and win a Super Bowl. That's why we're here, that's why we're playing, to make for a really magical season for us."

Brady – who will go head-to-head with reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV on home soil – has more playoff wins since turning 35 (17) than any other quarterback has in his entire career, per Stats Perform.

Tampa Bay's Brady became the third player all-time with three-plus touchdown passes and three-plus interceptions in a conference championship game, joining Joe Montana (1981 NFC Championship) and Mark Malone (1984 AFC Championship), after the Buccaneers topped the Green Bay Packers in the NFC decider.

The 31-26 win in Green Bay was also the fourth time Brady has thrown three-plus interceptions in a playoff game, and his teams are 3-1 in those matchups (most such wins all-time) – his sides are 0-9 when he has three-plus interceptions in a regular-season game.

It was the 20th occasion Brady has led his team to 30-plus points in a postseason game – no other player has even half that total (second is Troy Aikman with nine). Brady's teams are 18-2 in those games.

Brady will feature in his 10th Super Bowl – the next most by a player is six by Mike Lodish and Stephen Gostkowski, after the Buccaneers became the fifth team all-time to win three road games in a single postseason.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said young athletes are "crazy" if they do not look up to Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Tom Brady ahead of his 10th Super Bowl appearance.

No player has won more Super Bowl titles or appeared in more NFL showpieces than six-time champion Brady, who will lead the Buccaneers against Mahomes and reigning champions the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Sunday.

Brady has defied 'Father Time' – the evergreen 43-year-old guiding the Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl since 2003, and his first with the franchise since arriving from the New England Patriots at the start of the season.

Mahomes – the Super Bowl MVP last season – hailed the future Hall of Famer ahead of the pair's blockbuster showdown in Tampa.

"If you're a young athlete and you play any sport and you don't look up to guys like Tom Brady then you're crazy," Mahomes – the 2018 NFL MVP – told reporters on Monday.

"The guy that has had success year in and year out, continues to make himself better and not be satisfied with where he's at… he's the type of greatness that you strive to be like and be towards as you grow up.

"For me, I grew up watching him play and he's still here playing and he's still at the top of the game. For me, I just need to watch him and watch the things that he does on and off the field in order to figure out the best way to make me the best player possible."

"The way he's able to dissect defenses before the snap is something I truly admire," Mahomes added. "I'm trying to get to that level. The way he's able to move within the pocket and be able to reset his feet and be completely calm and still make the throw right on the money no matter who's around him is something I can continue to work on.

"As I continue in my career, I'm just going to try to do whatever I can to watch the tape on him because he's doing it the right way. You can tell by how many Super Bowl championships he has and the rings on his fingers."

Mahomes joined Kurt Warner, Brady and Russell Wilson as the only quarterbacks to reach the Super Bowl twice in their first four NFL seasons after the Chiefs took down the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game.

If the Chiefs are victorious, Mahomes will join Brady as the only QBs to win it twice in that span.

As Brady left the door open to prolonging his career beyond the age of 45, the 25-year-old Mahomes said: "I want to play as long as they let me. In order to do that, I have to take care of my body as much as I take care of everything else on the field.

"If you want to play this sport for a long time, how physical as it is, you have to invest as much time into your body as you do anything else. I've learned more and more in my young career so far about what I can do to keep myself available and healthy and try to be in the best nutritional state I can be in. I feel like I can be better."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Tom Brady said he will "definitely consider" playing in the NFL beyond the age of 45.

Brady is preparing to make his 10th Super Bowl appearance as the Buccaneers face reigning champions the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday.

The evergreen 43-year-old quarterback has defied 'Father Time' to lead the Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl since 2003, and his first with the franchise since arriving from the New England Patriots at the start of the season.

As Brady eyes a record-extending seventh Lombardi trophy, the future Hall of Famer is open to extending his career.

"Definitely. I'd definitely consider that," Brady said on Monday. "It's a physical sport. Just the perspective I have on that is you never know when that moment is.

"Just because it's a contact sport. There's a lot of training that goes into it. And it has to be 100 percent commitment from myself to keep doing it."

Brady added: "I think I'll know when it's time. I don't know when that time will come. But I think I'll know. And I'll understand that I gave everything I could to give to this game.

"You put a lot into it. I don't think I could ever go at this game half-ass. I've gotta put everything into it. When I put it all out there, [when] I feel like I can't do it anymore, I don't feel like I can commit to the team in the way that the team needs me, then I think that's when it's probably time to walk away."

Brady – who will go head-to-head with reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV on home soil – now has more playoff wins since turning 35 (17) than any other quarterback has in his entire career, per Stats Perform.

Tampa Bay's Brady became the third player all-time with three-plus touchdown passes and three-plus interceptions in a conference championship game, joining Joe Montana (1981 NFC Championship) and Mark Malone (1984 AFC Championship), after the Buccaneers topped the Green Bay Packers in the NFC decider.

The 31-26 win in Green Bay was also the fourth time Brady has thrown three-plus interceptions in a playoff game, and his teams are 3-1 in those matchups (most such wins all-time) – his sides are 0-9 when he has three-plus interceptions in a regular-season game.

It was the 20th occasion Brady has led his team to 30-plus points in a postseason game – no other player has even half that total (second is Troy Aikman with nine). Brady's teams are 18-2 in those games.

Brady will feature in his 10th Super Bowl – the next most by a player is six by Mike Lodish and Stephen Gostkowski, after the Buccaneers became the fifth team all-time to win three road games in a single postseason.

As Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempt to do what only one team managed to do in the regular season and defeat Patrick Mahomes, the six-time Super Bowl champion warned future foes that the Kansas City Chiefs star is only going to get better. 

Brady and the Bucs face Mahomes and the Chiefs in a mouth-watering Super Bowl LV matchup in Tampa on Sunday. 

Mahomes is trying to cap a spectacular start to his career as an NFL starter with a second successive Lombardi Trophy, having led the Chiefs back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV last year. 

That game saw him add a Super Bowl MVP to the regular-season MVP award he won in his first year as a starter with the Chiefs. 

His incredible achievements have many believing Mahomes is on his way to potentially dethroning Brady as the greatest quarterback of all time. 

And Brady expects Mahomes - who was rested in Week 17 when Kansas City were beaten by the Los Angeles Chargers - to build further on an astonishing three seasons in the years to come. 

Asked about Mahomes' progress from their meeting in the AFC Championship game in January 2019, when Brady's New England Patriots knocked off the Chiefs, the 43-year-old replied: "I think he's only elevated from that point on. 

"That year he was the MVP of the league, last year he came back and got off to a great start, dealt with some injuries, I know he separated his kneecap, that's a pretty tough injury, but fought through that, didn't have the same statistical year as he had in 2018, but goes on to win Super Bowl MVP.

"That's an amazing accomplishment to win MVP in 18, win the Super Bowl in 19 and then this year, to have the kind of year he's had, which is probably more similar to the year he had in 2018. I just think he's going to keep improving.

"I don't know him that well, I know quite a few people that do know him and they say great things about Pat. The times that I've been around him I've really enjoyed. 

"He's got a great maturity, great leader, got great charisma. It always speaks a lot when the players he plays with say great things about him. He's got a great relationship with his receivers, I think that always says a lot.

"I think there's a lot of things that make him a great player, obviously his physical skill set. I think he's got the ability to focus when the moments are the biggest and deliver for his team, that's probably the mark of any great athlete is coming through in the clutch and I think he's off to a great start in his career doing that."

LeBron James compared his achievements with the Los Angeles Lakers to Tom Brady's early success at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the legendary quarterback prepares for his latest Super Bowl appearance.

James, a four-time champion and four-time MVP in the NBA, led the Lakers to the title last year in just his second season in LA.

Meanwhile, Brady is in his first year in Tampa Bay, having ended a glittering career with the New England Patriots, and has taken the Bucs to next week's big game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

James turned 36 last month but is still averaging an impressive 25.2 points per game in 2020-21, a mark he has not dipped below since his rookie season in 2003-04.

Meanwhile, Brady – a three-time NFL MVP chasing a seventh championship – is now 43 yet ended the regular season with 40 touchdowns, the second best return of his career, and a passer rating of 102.2.

Neither man shows signs of slowing and James was asked on Saturday what he made of the continued excellence of a fellow sporting great.

"It doesn't do anything for me as far as what I do in my profession, but it does let me know – lets both of us know – that we can still play this game at a high level," James said after the Lakers' 96-95 win at the Boston Celtics.

"No matter how many miles, how many games, no matter how many dollars, no matter the statistics – in our respective professions, at our age, we can still dominate our sport.

"Also we can bring together groups that we may have not been around for long periods of time.

"It's our professionalism, how we attack the sport, how we attack every single day of being a professional, wanting to win every single day – in practice, on the film, in games, and so on and so on.

"We gravitate towards people and people gravitate towards us because we have one common goal and that's to win and to win at the highest level."

James had 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists against the Celtics, ending the Lakers' first two-game losing streak of the season with his 854th career win – outright eighth on the all-time list.

"We didn't want to lose one and we lost two in a row, Philly and Detroit," he said, with the Lakers at Atlanta next in the final game of a seven-game road trip.

"We understood we were coming into a hostile environment and we know how good this team is.

"We'd have to play good basketball in order to win and we were able to win one possession more than they did."

Those fine margins came as Kemba Walker missed a game-winning chance for the Celtics in the final seconds, capping a dismal night on which he shot 1-of-12 from the field and 0-of-5 from three.

Walker scored only four points in just over 28 minutes; it was the seventh time in his career he had scored no more than four points in at least 28 minutes in the regular season.

"I thought I had a good look [on the final shot] but I struggled all game shooting the basketball," Walker said.

He added: "It's more mental, I think. I'm trying my hardest not to get frustrated but I thought tonight I got frustrated at myself and it put me in a bad place.

"I'm not the type of player to get frustrated – I'm always smiling and I wasn't that tonight. I got into my own head and, mentally, I hurt myself.

"I can't do that to this team. These guys look to me, especially when things are going tough. I can't put my head down and not mentally be engaged in the game like I was tonight."

Bruce Arians believes if there was a player who could match Tom Brady's incredible NFL career, it would be Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes and Brady are preparing to go head-to-head when the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet in Super Bowl LV on February 7.

Brady, 43, will play in his 10th Super Bowl and aim to win it for a seventh time. No other player has even played in seven, with Mike Lodish and Stephen Gostkowski having featured in six.

He is also a four-time Super Bowl MVP and three-time NFL MVP, honours Mahomes has won once previously.

Buccaneers head coach Arians said Mahomes, 25, was capable of matching Brady.

"I think there's so much that goes into that. There's 21 others guy on your team," he told a news conference on Thursday.

"If it was a throwing contest, hell yeah, he'd go get it, but there's a lot of things that happen in different seasons and what Tom has done is historic.

"But there's no doubt that if there was a player who could do it, it would be Patrick."

Mahomes goes into the Super Bowl having won 25 of his past 26 starts (including the postseason). Brady (2003-04) and Jim McMahon (1984-87) are the only other quarterbacks to win 25 of 26 at any points in their careers, and both went 26 of 27.

While the Chiefs are aiming for back-to-back championships, the Buccaneers are in the Super Bowl for the first time since the end of the 2002 season.

Along with Brady, Tampa Bay also landed Rob Gronkowski ahead of this season, and Arians hailed the duo's impact.

"I didn't know about Gronk's work ethic, it's unbelievable. He comes in early, stays late, is great, but he's Gronk so he's got that great personality to go with his work ethic," he said.

"You knew Tom was a great leader. With COVID I don't go in the locker room very much, but those two guys brought something extremely special because they've been there and done it and when young players see that, they listen and you see two totally different personalities doing it the same way."

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