NFL Week 3 Thursday Night Betting - Will We See Baker Mayfield Tonight?

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TwinSpires Staff

September 20th, 2018

by BetAmerica Staff
When the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns take each other on in NFL Week 3 Thursday Night betting, there's going to be one dominant question underlying the narrative - why isn't Baker Mayfield playing? It's a question that only gets louder given that Sam Darnold will start for the Jets tonight after he was selected third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Where is the number one pick and why is Hue Jackson holding him back?

There's a strong argument that Baker Mayfield should sit through his entire rookie season. It's that old fashioned "hold a clipboard" argument that traditionalists will make, and it has legitimate grounds. The best case scenario is that you end up with someone like Aaron Rodgers, who sat behind Brett Favre for a few years too many.

The corollary from this season is Patrick Mahomes, a first round pick in 2017, who got to sit behind a respected and renowned mechanic like Alex Smith for at least a full season. Mahomes plays on a team that is unfairly super powered with offensive options. He has a very established coach, who has been to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs are representative of the best case scenario for a young quarterback. Learn from one of the league's best, and then takeover a well oiled machine. Easy.

Cleveland is not an ideal situation for a young quarterback. They're a mess despite all the off-season wheeling and dealing, and the chance to draft two players in the top-four of the 2018 draft. Denzel Ward, who was selected fourth overall after Baker Mayfield was taken first, has been fairly decent. He's part of a secondary that is allowing 263.0 yards per game, and an overall defense that ranks just below league average with 373.5 yards allowed and 21 points surrendered. There's wiggle room to improve and playing Pittsburgh and New Orleans over the first two weeks explains those numbers.

To that end, however, Pittsburgh and New Orleans both have two of the worst defenses in the league (right now). Why couldn't Cleveland get it going against them? Weather aside, Pittsburgh gave the Browns a lot of chances. So did New Orleans.

It's no secret that the problem for the Browns resides with the quarterback. Taylor is just not getting the job done. Total QBR is a decent metric in measuring how a quarterback ranks against his colleagues, and Taylor is ranked 25th with a gruesome 36.4 mark. That puts him right between Eli Manning and Ryan Tannehill. How do you feel about the Browns in NFL Week 3 Thursday betting now?

What exactly is the harm in starting Baker Mayfield? I know that it's just two weeks down the road, but there is nothing gained by playing Tyrod Taylor. He's not "showing" Baker how to play the position. And this is nothing personal against Tyrod. We just know full well what he is as a player. The numbers speak for themselves:
Total Yards



Passing Yards



Points Scored



First Downs






Team Pass Rating



Team Receptions



These rankings should come as no surprise. The two games that Cleveland has had have been rough, and it's not going to get better. They have an insanely tough schedule, despite the fact that they're favored tonight at CLE -3.0 against the New York Jets in NFL Week 3 Thursday night betting. Perhaps the only stat in the table above that makes a standing argument for why Baker shouldn't start is the sacks total, which is alarming. You don't want your rookie quarterback getting his brains and body bashed in.

But one of the strengths of Baker Mayfield is his ability to keep plays alive. It would be a different story if he was a pocket passer. He's both a stand-and-deliver type of gun slinger, and a run-and-gunner. He's a slightly taller Drew Brees! He also seems like a rookie that has the mental strength to at least put up with a bit of failure. The pressure on Mayfield is astronomical to begin with, and will be a main focus tonight with Darnold taking center stage for better or worse. But it will only get more intense if the Browns are unable to improve their offensive situation with Taylor. Patience in Cleveland feels unlimited at times, but it isn't. The fans will want wins and we know that Taylor is having trouble delivering them.

In fairness, the Browns have been close. They've tied the Steelers and gone toe-to-toe with the Saints. It's not that there's reason to panic. More so, it's that there's little reason to keep Mayfield sidelined. At the very least, Cleveland deserves some hope and their situation isn't as desperate as Arizona's. The Cardinals are smart to keep fellow rookie Josh Rosen on the sidelines. New York has gone the other way and are just willing to let Darnold take his lumps. Learning how to cope with losing and scrutiny is part of the job, and can only be learned hands-on.

Will it take a poor performance from Tyrod to get Baker suited up and slinging the pigskin? Are you willing to take that chance in NFL Week 3 Thursday night betting? It would be exciting to see Baker get his shot...but it's sadly unlikely.

For the longest time, the "keep the rookie holding a clipboard" mantra felt like the best way to go. And for many instances, it is absolutely the best option for the player. However, given Mayfield's personality, the offensive potential of his teammates and the ability of the defense, it makes sense to see this group go through the growing pains together. Wouldn't it be vaguely similar to the Seahawks starting Russell Wilson, the Colts starting Andrew Luck or the Redskins rolling with RG3 in the 2013 season?

There can't be a legitimate reason that explains why Sam Darnold is starting and Baker Mayfield is not. Otherwise, the Browns would have taken Darnold.

The Cleveland Browns are -3.0 point favorites at home against the New York Jets in NFL Week 3 Thursday Night betting tonight at 8:20pm ET on the NFL Network!