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Could Patrick Mahomes throw 51 touchdown passes in 2020?

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The Chiefs quarterback might once again hit (or exceed) that elusive plateau in the coming season.

NFL: SEP 29 Chiefs at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In an article full of bold predictions published on Monday, NFL.com analyst Adam Schein predicted that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes would throw 51 touchdown passes in 2020.

6) Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes will throw 51 touchdown passes

In his first full year as a starter, he posted the second 50/5,000 season in NFL history and won MVP. Last season, he was the Super Bowl MVP. This offseason, the Chiefs stole Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who has Brian Westbrook-like qualities as a runner/receiver. And here’s the rub: At age 24, Mahomes is only getting better.

Andy Reid is a gem of a coach and play caller. Mahomes is the best show in sports with unreal weapons around him. Why not?

Could Mahomes do it?

Obviously he could; we’ve already seen that. But he did it in a season where the Chiefs defense allowed a lot of scoring; the team’s average margin of victory in 2018 was just nine points. That’s the lowest of the five teams led by quarterbacks who sniffed (or exceeded) that 50-touchdown plateau. (The other teams were the 2013 Denver Broncos, 2007 New England Patriots, 2004 Indianapolis Colts and 1984 Miami Dolphins). So in order to win games, Mahomes really had little choice in the matter; he had chuck it deep as often as he could.

This has led to the suggestion that as the Chiefs defense improves, it will be that much harder for Mahomes to hit the 50-touchdown mark — and that argument seems reasonable. But it’s also true that when Tom Brady threw 50 touchdown passes in 2007, the Patriots average margin of victory was 19.7 points — more than twice as large as the Chiefs in 2018. So you can’t really say it’s impossible for a team with a very good defense — the Patriots defense ranked fourth in points in 2007 — to have that many passing touchdowns.

But this argument misses a larger point. Of these five teams, not a single one of them won a championship. Three of them reached Super Bowls, but lost. So here’s what might be a better question: can Patrick Mahomes throw 51 (or more) touchdown passes in 2020 — and also win a Super Bowl?