Fans treat the quarterback position like the American Presidency, a Priesthood and an Attorney Generalship all in one. Even coaches can be swept into “believing in” a particular QB for no rational reason.
For instance, former Arizona Cardinal head coach Ken Whisenhunt once decided with 2 weeks left in preseason that he no longer trusted starting QB Matt Leinart. Not only the coach have made such a momentous decision sooner than August 15th, the HC’s disgust for Leinart’s on-field and off-field persona led “Wiz” to plunge the entire season down the drain. He replaced Leinart with Derek Anderson, a career backup who sprayed passes all over the field in limited duty, then replaced Anderson with various practice-squad players.
The holy ritual of choosing a savior-or-else QB had claimed another victim, as an NFL head coach moved his team’s QB position rank from “fair” to “critical” to “legendarily bad” in a few short, compulsive weeks.
Meanwhile, getting asked to side with one signal-caller over another in your hometown feel like the Inquisition. “Who do you believe in?”
NFL betting in Vegas isn’t known as a heroic enterprise but it might be if we ever stop to think about it. Betting on games is where all of the myth-making has to end. You can “believe in” somebody all you want, but if you’re overlooking facts to stump for your guy (and you bet accordingly) then the gridiron is likely to respond with a cold, costly slap. Gamblers who examine athletes’ skills without prejudice are rewarded.
When rookie Baker Mayfield came in for Tyrod Taylor in Week 3 to lead the Browns to an 11-point comeback victory over the Jets, the media was quick to label him a passer of the future in the NFL. But after 2 weeks in which the Browns scored only 23 combined points, Baker is an afterthought – all the talk is on Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold.
As usual, though, NFL odds-makers have taken a cold shower. They’re giving Cleveland a decent shot to knock-off Tampa Bay on the road in Week 7.
Who: Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When: Sunday, October 21st, 1 PM EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Lines: CLE (+4) at TB (-4) / O/U Total: (50.5)
The past 2 Cleveland games (a 12-9 win against Baltimore and a 38-14 loss to the Chargers), games in which Mayfield completed only 52.8% of his passes and threw for more interceptions than touchdowns, were against 2 of the league’s best defenses.
Now, the Browns are entering a 5-game stretch (@Tampa, @Pitt, vs. KC, vs. Atlanta, @Cincy) against some of the worst teams in the league at defending the pass. All 5 are in the bottom 6 as far as passing yards per game allowed. Baker should see some positive regression soon, starting this week against Tampa Bay.
Combined with a defense and special teams that frustrated the Ravens for 4 quarters, the Cleveland offense might just produce enough to upset a solid team on the road.
Do the Bucs even qualify as “solid”? Until all of the facts are in, Tampa Bay is a bit of an enigma. The club has now dropped 3 straight since the 2-game “Fitzmagic” winning streak to start the season.
But losing has caught up to the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay fired its former defensive coordinator Mike Smith earlier this week after his unit gave-up 112 points the past 3 weeks, replacing him with longtime linebackers coach Mark Duffner. More from ESPN:
“My philosophy is to be upbeat and positive. I don’t see what you gain from not being [that way],” said Duffner, a disciple of Woody Hayes and Dick LeBeau. “People choose to do that. We all have a choice. Mine is — ‘Shoot, let’s go after [it] with gusto, whatever it is we’re doing.’ I think you come away from it better as a result.”
Duffner yells but doesn’t berate. He’s constantly preaching “attack!” to his players. He wants them downhill and aggressive, to be smart and physical. “Defense has no room for being soft,” Duffner said.
If a ball is on the ground, it must be scooped up. He’s also very particular about the way they are to defend routes.
Hmm. He’s like a good-vibes version of Gregg Williams.
Duffner will need to spark something in the defense post-haste, because you have no shot at winning in the NFL giving up 37 ppg consistently.
Jameis Winston made his first start for the Buccaneers last week in a loss to the Falcons. Winston was pretty good, throwing for nearly 400 yards and 4 touchdowns, but throwing 2 back-breaking interceptions – something that’s plagued Winston his whole career, and made the Bucs noncommittal about his future.
He’ll be up against a Browns defense rated very highly vs the passing game.
The Browns match-up extremely well in this one and are a solid pick ATS or on the moneyline.