Browns QB Could Make Big Bucks For Baker Believers This Season

Getty Images Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns.

Be honest, how confident are you that Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield can elevate himself to an elite-level quarterback this year?

If you’re a true believer in the talent and potential of the brash and boisterous signal caller for the Browns, then the time to bet on Baker is now.

Bleacher Report Gridiron, the website’s Twitter and Instagram accounts dedicated to NFL coverage, published the cumulative list of MVP (Most Valuable Player) betting odds for the top 20 favorites in the category this upcoming season. And while Mayfield is getting some love from Vegas, he also represents an opportunity at huge value.

As of Friday, July 9, the Browns quarterback has the 12th best chance of winning the MVP award out of every player in the entire league. However, his odds are currently 35-1 to actually accomplish the feat.

That means that a $100 wager on Mayfield to take home the honor would pay out a whopping $3,500. A bet of $1,000, for the wealthy risk takers out there in Browns nation, would net the gambler a down payment on a decent starter house.

What Does a Mayfield Run to MVP Look Like?

Getty ImagesBrowns quarterback Baker Mayfield is a popular bet for NFL MVP.

No one is advocating any Cleveland fans run out and put this month’s mortgage payment on a 35-1 long shot, unless that is just how you roll, but there is real value behind the Mayfield for MVP bet.

That is namely for three reasons: the guy plays the right position, he plays that position with what is inarguably a Super Bowl contender in the Browns, and his numbers last season trended substantially in the right direction.

It only takes one glance at the list of MVP favorites to see that quarterback is far and away the best bet as far as position is concerned — you have to scroll all the way down to 15th on the list to find a player lining up anywhere else on the field (Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffery).

Secondly, the Browns marched to an 11-5 record last season on their way to the franchise’s first playoff victory in 26 years. In the second round, they fell by just 5 points to the eventual AFC Champion and then-defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.

And Cleveland got healthier and better this offseason, with the return of Odell Beckham Jr. on the horizon and the signing of pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney in the offseason, who will line up opposite Myles Garrett on what looks to be a truly terrifying defensive line.

Finally, Mayfield had himself an impressive go-round in his third NFL regular season campaign, throwing for 3,563 yards and a career-high 26 touchdowns complemented by a career-low 8 interceptions.

A Mayfield MVP Season Would Likely Require a Slight Shift in Browns’ Offensive Philosophy

GettyBrowns running back Nick Chubb.

A fourth, and equally important, trait of Mayfield’s is his ability to stay on the field in one of the world’s most violent sports. Since taking the helm in the third game of his rookie year, Mayfield has started 47 consecutive times for the Browns, including the playoffs.

Odds dictate that at least half the quarterbacks above Mayfield on the list of MVP favorites will miss some amount of time this season, at least enough to drop them from contention as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

But Mayfield has one distinct disadvantage — he passed the ball fewer than 16 other starting quarterbacks in 2020.

Mayfield attempted 486 passes last season, the exact same amount he threw his rookie year, during which he played two and a half fewer games. Last year’s total was also nearly 50 fewer pass attempts than he threw in his sophomore season. Matt Ryan, who led the league in passes thrown for the Atlanta Falcons, chucked the ball a whopping 140 times more than Mayfield in 2020, per Pro-Football Reference.

Eight of the 11 QBs ahead of Mayfield in the opening MVP odds threw the football more than Cleveland’s signal-caller did last year. Two of the guys who didn’t were Baltimore Raven Lamar Jackson, already an MVP and a quarterback who makes most of his spectacular plays with his feet, and Dallas Cowboy Dak Prescott, who was sidelined most of last season with a gruesome injury.

Conversely, the Browns rushed the ball more than all but five NFL teams in 2020. And with a two-headed backfield monster in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, not to mention the recipe for success a more or less equal run/pass attack proved to be for the Browns last year, Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski isn’t likely to move away from the winning formula of pounding the ball on the ground.

Still, Mayfield has proven himself a solid leader and formidable force in the NFL. He remains young, and 4,000-plus yards and 30-plus touchdowns track as reasonable expectations for his fourth season, based on his career trajectory to this point.

If he can up his completion percentage from just under 63% last season to a figure above 65%, and continue to protect the ball the way he did in 2020, the Browns should perform similarly on offense as they did last season. A high playoff seed and a few breaks might be all it takes for the Cleveland QB to bust his way into the Most Valuable Player conversation.

All this is to say Mayfield for MVP is far from make believe this season, so don’t count it out — and maybe even throw a bill on it.

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