With only 13 professional starts to his career, Baker Mayfield is being treated like NFL quarterback royalty at online sportsbooks entering the 2019-20 season. The former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft shined in his rookie season when he led the Cleveland Browns to 7-7 and 8-6 ATS records by way of playing the part of a bonafide QB1. Only five other quarterbacks are predicted to throw for more touchdowns than Mayfield with six others expected to throw for more yards. With expectations at a rarely seen all-time high, the Browns now have the added pressure of living up to them. If ever there was a talent and personality ready, willing and able to take that challenge head on, it’s No. 6 in brown and orange!
Total Passing Yards: 4250.5
Total Passing TD: 31.5
Alarms are blaring. The city of Cleveland has been put on red alert! After ranking out as the No. 14 overall offense that rated out above average both running and passing the pigskin, the Browns are expected to take the offense to new heights now in the first full season of Freddie Kitchens and Todd Monken calling the shots. The additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt only help bolster the belief that this will be a vastly improved offensive attack. While it moved the ball very well, it only went on to score an average of 22.4 points per game; an output that ranked No. 20 in scoring offense. Now with a full 16-game slate, Mayfield will have the opportunity to greatly improve his rookie outputs. The betting markets are selling early on with heavier juice attached to the under of both his passing yardage and touchdowns props.
NFL fans and bettors are venturing into unchartered waters. After initially hitting the board as 33-1 underdogs to win Super Bowl LIV, Cleveland’s odds to win it all have been slashed 55 percent and the bandwagon still looks to have some more room on it. Seriously, when was the last time you saw the Cleveland Browns installed favorites to win the AFC North? That’s the current reality with it now slightly favored over both Baltimore and Pittsburgh to pull off the feat after finishing third a season ago. No longer the hunted and now the hunter, how the Browns deal with the change in mentality will go a long way in deciding whether they can live up to those lofty expectations. Mayfield completed 63.8 percent of his passes and threw for 3,725 yards and 27 TD passes through 14 games a season ago. Expecting him to throw for another 525+ yards and 5 TD could be a bit rich when you take game script into account considering Cleveland has the ground game and defense to shorten games with the best of them.
Cleveland Browns Football Schedule
Week 1: Titans at Browns, Sunday, September 8, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 2: Browns at Jets, Monday, September 16, 8:15 p.m. ET - ESPN
Week 3: Rams at Browns, Sunday, September 22, 8:20 p.m. ET - NBC
Week 4: Browns at Ravens, Sunday, September 29, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 5: Browns at 49ers, Monday, October 7, 8:15 p.m. ET - ESPN
Week 6: Seahawks at Browns, Sunday, October 13, 1 p.m. ET - FOX
Week 7: Bye Week
Week 8: Browns at Patriots, Sunday, October 27, 4:25 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 9: Browns at Broncos, Sunday, November 3, 4:25 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 10: Bills at Browns, Sunday, November 10, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 11: Steelers at Browns, Thursday, November 14, 8:20 p.m. ET – NFL NETWORK
Week 12: Dolphins at Browns, Sunday, November 24, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 13: Browns at Steelers, Sunday, December 1, 4:25 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 14: Bengals at Browns, Sunday, December 8, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 15: Browns at Cardinals, Sunday, December 15, 4:05 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 16: Ravens at Browns, Sunday, December 22, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Week 17: Browns at Bengals, Sunday, December 29, 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Three at home and three away with all six to be played outdoors; that’s what faces the Browns heading into the team’s Week 7 bye. There isn’t a layup in the bunch either with the season kicking off at home against a solid Tennessee secondary followed up with a trip to MetLife to face the rejuvenated Jets. Then it’s the Rams at home followed by trips to Baltimore and San Francisco before returning home to host the Seahawks. Of that six-pack, only New York and the 49ers possessed below average pass defenses a season ago. Following the bye, only three above average pass defenses from last season will be run up against giving Baker seven games to strut his stuff. Getting the Bengals and their league-worst pass defense from a season ago could go a long way in determining the final outcomes of both wagers the final month of the season. He’ll need to take advantage of those matchups with the strength of the schedule checking in at No. 30; only two slots ahead of the toughest QB schedule owned by the Chiefs.
As much as I think the Browns will ultimately live up to the expectations linemakers at top rated sportsbooks have burdened them with, I’m not buying Mayfield as the main reason why. Yes, the kid is a stud and a proven winner at all levels. He plays with a moxie unseen in the league for quite some time. However, I’m not sold on the offense being a juggernaut. Sure, it’s going to hang some crooked numbers on occasion, but it plays in an incredibly competitive division with three of the teams having pulses. Cleveland also has to take on some solid teams in the NFC West and AFC South with a number of those matchups likely to be competitive. Nick Chubb is in line for a big season after shining in his rookie debut, and the Browns also sport an improved defense. Because of it, I think it’s a bit premature to think Baker can leapfrog into the top-10 of the passing yards leaders which is where his current yardage prop would place him going by last year’s standings. Chubb and Hunt will also eat into the total of touchdown passes thrown. I’m hitting the under on both accounts and challenging him to prove me wrong – Woof!
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