Patrick Mahomes threw 50 TDs last season, and the case can be made (is being made by some) that there's no reason to think he'll decline. Same coach, same offense, same skill players around him. Could he throw the same number of touchdowns (or more) a year from now?

Anything is possible, but the history suggests he'll be beating the odds if he puts up similar touchdown numbers. Far more likely he takes a step back.

In NFL history, there have been a dozen other quarterbacks to throw at least 40 TD passes in a season. (Eight different players; four guys have done it twice.) Not one of those quarterbacks threw as many a year later; nine of the 12 threw at least 16 fewer touchdowns. That's not just a step back; that's a significant decline for the majority of those quarterbacks.

Year Player TD Next? ChangeNote
2013Peyton Manning5539-16
2007Tom Brady500-50Lost for season in Week 1
2018Patrick Mahomes50??
2004Peyton Manning4928-21
1984Dan Marino4830-18
2011Drew Brees4643-3
2011Aaron Rodgers4539-6
1986Dan Marino4426-18
2012Drew Brees4339-4
2011Matthew Stafford4120-21
1999Kurt Warner4121-20Missed 5 games
2014Andrew Luck4015-25Missed 9 games
2016Aaron Rodgers4016-24Missed 9 games

Three of the big decliners missed at least half the season due to injury; a fourth missed five games. And Peyton Manning in 2014 was an old dude.

But no such excuses for the declines by Matthew Stafford in 2012, Manning in 2005, or Dan Marino (either of his step-down seasons). Maybe defenses did a better job on them, maybe the offense changed or lost a key playmaker. Whatever the case, they weren't as good. Only three of the non-injury guys (Rodgers once, and Drew Brees twice) experienced minimal decline, throwing 3, 4 and 6 fewer TDs.

Mahomes is a rare talent, a 22-year-old superstar who threw his 50 in his first year as a starter -- unprecedented. Still, he'll be beating the odds if he throws a similar number of touchdown passes in 2019.

--Andy Richardson