Mahomes vs. Allen: Who you got?

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Mahomes vs. Allen. It’s not only the matchup of the weekend, it’s looking like the matchup of the next decade in the NFL.

Sure, a few other young QBs can be thrown into that mix — Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Tom Brady — but what we have in Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are a 26- and 25-year-old, respectively, who are already in the primes of their careers. We can confidently say we know what they are, and what they are is really good.

So if given the choice, who would you rather have? Let’s break it down:

Passing: Arm strength isn’t a problem for either of these two. Neither is improvisation. Both can move the ball from anywhere to anywhere. What it comes down to is taking care of the ball, and on that front Mahomes has a slight edge over Allen. Neither throw a lot of picks, but Mahomes has the better TD-INT ratio (4-1 vs. 2.2-1).

Advantage: Mahomes

Running: The reason these two stand above the rest is because they can both pass and run. That said, this one’s a no-contest. Allen is as dangerous with his legs as he is with his howitzer of an arm. He has rushed for 31 touchdowns so far compared to eight for Mahomes.

Advantage: Allen

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, left, greets Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen during pre-game warmups before an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021 in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, left, greets Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen during pre-game warmups before an October game in Kansas City. The Bills eventually won the contest, 38-20. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Durability: It’s cliché, but true — the most important ability is availability. Neither is necessarily injury-prone, but in his three-plus seasons as the starter in Buffalo, Allen has never missed a game. This despite running the ball an average of seven times a game. Being built like a truck — 6-foot-5, 240 pounds — certainly helps. Mahomes has been durable in his own right, missing only three games in four seasons as a starter. Going forward, I trust the guy built like a truck over the guy built like a sedan.

Advantage: Allen

Contract: This is an interesting one because both just signed monster deals — Mahomes for 10 years, $450 million, Allen for six years, $258 million. At first glance, Allen’s contract might look like the better team deal because A) it’s the cheaper contract and B) the Bills won’t be saddled with a $59 million salary-cap hit like the Chiefs will be in 2027. Even though Mahomes’ doesn’t get much cheaper as the deal moves into the 2030s (assuming the deal isn’t restructured before then), he would still be under contract at a price that likely will be at or below market value, while the Bills will have had to re-sign Allen likely to something north of $50 million per season and likely closer to $60 million. I’ll go with the long-term security over the short-term gain.

Advantage: Mahomes

Intangibles: Both have good coaches, but Andy Reid is better (Advantage Mahomes). Despite paying Mahomes a monster number, overall the Chiefs are in better shape cap-wise over the next few seasons, which they’ll need to retain Mahomes’ favorite weapons — Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce (Advantage Mahomes). And Mahomes and the Chiefs have already proven they can win it all. Allen could send Kansas City packing Sunday night, but until he gets over on them, the edge has to go to the team that has done it.

Advantage Mahomes

Adding it all up, that’s 3-2 Mahomes. And — surprise! — that’s where I’m going over the long term. I do think Allen and the Bills will get over on the Chiefs on Sunday, and I do think at their best Allen has a higher upside than Mahomes. But running the ball is a big part of Allen’s game, and you can’t run forever in the NFL — even if you’re built like a truck. Just ask Cam Newton.

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