ENGLEWOOD – When Russell Wilson was traded to the Broncos in March, part of the reason was to beat the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Broncos haven’t beaten an AFC West opponent since November 2015, and that’s largely because they’ve overachieved at quarterback. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been a Bronco killer since being drafted by Kansas City in 2017. The hope was that Wilson could level the playing field with Mahomes.
Instead, Wilson is having the worst season of his career and Mahomes is the MVP favorite. The Broncos are 3-9, while the Chiefs are 9-3 and atop the AFC standings.
“I’ve gotten to know Patrick a little bit along the way,” Wilson said Wednesday. “I love his demeanor, I love his energy, I love how he obviously makes big plays. He’s a great scrambler; he can really do some special things when he gets out of the pocket. He’s got great players around him as well … I love how competitive he is.”
Mahomes, 27, is 9-0 against the Broncos while averaging 253.2 yards, 1.3 touchdowns and 0.4 interceptions per game. Mahomes, however, has never beaten Wilson in a head-to-head battle, losing 38-31 to the Seahawks in 2018.
Currently, the two will likely square off for the next few years, with Mahomes under contract through 2031 and Wilson through 2028. But Wilson’s five-year, $245 million contract doesn’t look as good as it did when he signed it in September . , while Mahomes signing a 10-year, $450 million deal in 2020 looks like one of the smartest deals in NFL history.
By comparison, Mahomes, who is owed $29.45 million in 2022, has thrown 30 touchdowns this season, roughly $98,000 per touchdown. Wilson, who is owed $57 million, has thrown just eight touchdowns — $7.125 million per touchdown. There’s more to it, but at this rate Mahomes will be a bargain for the Chiefs, and he’s already on pace to be one of the best quarterbacks in league history.
“He’s playing at an incredibly high level, whether he’s hitting things in rhythm or breaking the pocket. The different plays he makes are incredible,” coach Nathaniel Hackett said. “He’s just in that mindset and he’s just playing out of his mind, whether it’s the right play or whether it’s in rhythm or he’s going to make plays with his feet. He looks like an MVP to me. He’s amazing.”
Comparing Wilson, or really any quarterback, to Mahomes isn’t exactly fair. But it’s only fair to expect more from Wilson, a nine-time Pro Bowl and Super Bowl champion. Many thought he would be the second-best quarterback in the division, ahead of Justin Herbert of the Chargers and Derek Carr of the Raiders. It has been far from that.
Still, Wilson has a chance to defeat Mahomes and the Chiefs on Sunday, ending the infamous losing streak. And if he does, something no Denver quarterback has done since Peyton Manning, maybe all will forgive Wilson … for now.
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“This football game isn’t necessarily about the past. It’s about the present,” Wilson said. “This is the best thing about the game. What can we do to go against a really good football team and get a win at home in front of our fans and for our team? We definitely care.”
Did not practice: LB Dakota Allen (hamstring), WR Courtland Sutton (hamstring), TE Andrew Beck (hamstring), OL Dalton Risner (shoulder/back) K Brandon McManus (quad), OL Tom Compton (illness).
Limited: S Kareem Jackson (NIR), WR Jerry Jeudy (ankle), K’Waun Williams (wrist/elbow/knee), LS Jacob Bobenmoyer (wrist), OLB Baron Browning (elbow), DL Jonathan Harris (knee).