What will it take for Patrick Mahomes to unseat Tom Brady as NFL’s GOAT? The question is harder than you think

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Patrick Mahomes has Tom Brady in the crosshairs. Or does he? For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs are in the Super Bowl with Mahomes under center. The two-time NFL MVP will be playing for the third Super Bowl of his career, which legitimately has him on a trajectory to potentially unseat Brady as the greatest player the NFL has ever witnessed. 

When you compare the first six seasons of Brady and Mahomes’ careers, the Chiefs QB has the edge in wins (regular season and postseason), AFC Championship titles, passer rating and TD-INT ratio. The only spot where Brady currently has the edge over that stretch is a 3-2 lead in Super Bowl titles, which Mahomes can tie with a win over the San Francisco 49ers in a couple of weeks at Super Bowl LVIII. 

Naturally, all that pushes the discussion to whether or not he can catch Brady. It’s a fair conversation to have and in bounds considering what we’ve witnessed him accomplish over his first six years as the full-time starter. However, there are some talking heads decreeing he already has reached that mountaintop, which, of course, is premature. And just how far Mahomes still needs to go — despite this sensational start — is worth highlighting. 

Let’s work under the assumption that the Chiefs do defeat the Niners to claim Mahomes’ third Super Bowl title. Congrats, you’re just under halfway there to catch Brady’s record seven Lombardi Trophies. 

And how do we factor in their head-to-head matchups for this jockeying of all-time status? Even if Mahomes matches Brady’s seven, the elder statesman owns a 2-0 playoff record against him on some of the biggest stages that the NFL has to offer: the 2018 AFC Championship (with Patriots) and Super Bowl LV (with Buccaneers). 

This isn’t the same scenario that Brady found himself in as he looked to unseat Joe Montana for this mantle or even — if we expand outside of football — what LeBron James is trying to accomplish against Michael Jordan. Mahomes isn’t chasing a ghost. These all-time greats have crossed paths with one another, not just for a random Week 4 matchup in the regular season, but they were do-or-die, legacy-making games and Brady swept the series. 

With that in mind, Mahomes can’t just match Brady’s title totals. He sort of needs to blow him out of the water to make up for those playoff losses, specifically that head-to-head loss in Super Bowl LV. 

Longevity was Brady’s greatest strength in this race for immortality and could prove to be Mahomes’ greatest adversary as he looks to snatch “The GOAT” title. Brady played for a total of 23 seasons and up until he was 45. Mahomes is wrapping up his age-28 season, which means he does have plenty of room to run, which is why we’re having this conversation in the first place. 

But let’s tack on 12 more seasons to Mahomes’ current numbers to get to him through his age-40 season. Below, we have added his current totals to his career averages as the full-time starter (ex. Mahomes’ 5,036 passing yards average from 2018-2023) multiplied over 12 more years to see where he’d stack up. 

Regular season head-to-head

Passing yards



Passing touchdowns









If Mahomes maintains good health and plays through his age-40 season (a realistic milestone considering QBs in today’s NFL), he’ll get within range of Brady’s all-time regular-season totals, but still come up short in some areas. With that head-to-head advantage in favor of Brady, that may require Mahomes to mimic his opponent and play deep into his 40s to pump up those numbers and separate himself across the board. 

From the eye test, everyone will have their preference as to who is the greatest quarterback they’ve ever seen. Some will say Brady, others will say Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, or even Mahomes. But the résumé speaks for itself and currently puts the crown on Brady’s head. While Mahomes may be on the right path to ultimately get there one day, he has a longer way to go than some may realize.