On this Thursday night NFL preview, it’s time to look at quarterbacks Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns and Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals.

This is a big deal, since both are Heisman Trophy winners – Mayfield from 2017 and Burrow from 2019.  It’s great to have football again after months of legitimate fear, uncertainty and doubt, and Week 2 is going to bring a lot more excitement.

Mayfield Looks To Improve

The great plays Mayfield used to show are gone and his self-confidence is now weak.  Considering the 32 starting quarterbacks in Week 1, he had a 66.7% adjusted completion percentage, which is the third-lowest in the league.  His metrics are way off from expectations, and he needs to perform better, starting tonight.

Some questions are raised in the backfield as the start of the 2020 season advances.  The Browns have Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, who could arguably be called the best 1-2 running back combinations in the league.  The Browns have to decide how they will be deployed tonight so they can best help Mayfield.

Hunt and Chubb picked up 17 and 11 touches, respectively, with Hunt handling the Browns’ only carry inside the five-yard line in Week 1.  Each running back went over 5.5 yards per attempt and 4.0 yards after contact per attempt to reach the top-ten among the running backs in Week 1, which might be considered an ideal performance.

Burrow Looks To Dig In

Burrow, on the other hand, is the most prolific rookie QB in the league.  His leadership has been outstanding in training camp and his physical performance is undeniable.  He can cope with pressure and stress.

The Bengals have to figure out whether to trust running back Joe Mixon and what he can accomplish with the ball.  Since his draft in 2017, Mixon has been a very active player, and his metrics show him averaging almost 16 rushing attempts and 2.5 receptions per game.  However, he still is waiting to find his rhythm, and has been kept to just 3.6 yards per rush.

We can expect to see both teams lessen pressure on each of their respective quarterbacks.  Establishing the run can help both players with efficiency.  The Bengals are down several players, including defensive tackles Mike Daniels and Geno Atkins, and the Browns are going to have to figure out if wide receiver Jarvis Landry, center JC Tretter and a few others will be healthy enough to play.

Currently, the Browns are getting the lines in what should be a close contest.  The money is on Cleveland at -270; however, the Bengals at +210 has to be enticing.  The Over/Under of 43.5 seems to be highly optimistic, given how both teams performed in Week 1.  It’s doubtful the score will come close and -110 for the Under makes this not even worthwhile.

In Week 1, the Over did better than anyone had expected, taking nine of the 16 games.  It had been expected that the majority of the games would have come well under the projections, but football has proven, once again, to be more resilient than everyone expects.  However, the Browns and the Bengals only combined for a total of 19 points in Week 1, and there’s no reason to expect two losing teams to do much better tonight.