Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) reacts to a first down against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
- Baker Mayfield has excelled against the spread (ATS) in his career with the Cleveland Browns and Oklahoma Sooners.
- Mayfield is 26-16 ATS as the betting favorite with the Browns and Sooners.
The list of career achievements for Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield as a 23-year-old rookie is a pretty impressive one:
- Heisman Trophy winner (as a walk-on, too)
- First overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft
- Starting QB at the University of Oklahoma
For Mayfield though, it didn’t start out that way.
Mayfield began his college football career as a walk-on player for Texas Tech before eventually transferring to Oklahoma, where he had to sit out a full season before suiting up in 2015.
Maybe it’s the natural-born swagger he displayed at Oklahoma or maybe it’s the fact that nobody believed in him at Texas Tech, but the numbers don’t lie.
Mayfield has not only exceeded expectations, but he’s climbed the mountain while doing the most important task — covering the point spread.
Mayfield in Prime Time
Under the bright lights of prime time, Mayfield has greatly exceeded expectations in his career, not only with the Browns this season, but also with Oklahoma.
According to our Bet Labs data, Mayfield is 2-0 against the spread (ATS) in prime time with the Browns, defeating both the Jets in Week 3 — when Baker came in as the backup — and the Broncos in Week 15.
At Oklahoma, Mayfield was 17-1 straight up (SU) and 12-6 ATS in prime time, profiting bettors 5.3 units.
Throughout his college and pro career, Mayfield is 17-9 ATS playing in prime time.
Mayfield as a Favorite
When Mayfield is expected to win, he has done just that. With the Browns, Mayfield is 2-0 SU and ATS as a favorite, beating the Jets in Week 3 and the Bengals in Week 12.
Dating back to his days at Oklahoma, Mayfield has won nine consecutive games when listed as the favorite.
In his career with the Sooners, Mayfield was 21-14 ATS when listed as the favorite, including 15-5 ATS when facing a team above .500 for the season, covering those games by more than a touchdown, on average.
At Texas Tech, Oklahoma and with the Cleveland Browns, Mayfield is 26-16 ATS as the betting favorite.
Mayfield at Home
There is nothing quite like playing at home, especially when the two teams you’ve played for have very different expectations.
This week against the Bengals, the Browns opened as favorites of a touchdown or more for the first time since 2014, and just the fifth time since 2003.
It’s safe to say the Browns are in uncharted territory with a rookie quarterback, but Mayfield is used to being in this spot and performing with expectations.
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Mayfield is 4-2 SU and ATS at home with the Browns, throwing eight touchdowns to only four interceptions, with his only two losses coming to playoff teams in the Chargers and Chiefs.
Baker played 18 games on Owen Field at Oklahoma and was 16-2 SU and 13-5 ATS. In Mayfield’s last 16 home games with the Browns and Sooners, he is 13-3 SU and ATS.
Overall, Mayfield is 19-9 ATS at home.
When it comes to betting the NFL, an effective strategy can be finding value on the point spread based on overreaction.
Not only are the Browns 7-point favorites against the Bengals this week, but Cincinnati is also coming off a win last week against the Raiders. What is the significance?
No league personifies reacting and overreacting to wins and losses more than the NFL. After the Bengals not only won, but won by double-digits, they are 7-point dogs to Mayfield and the Browns in Week 16.
This will be the first game the Browns will play as favorites, with their opponent coming off a straight-up win, since Dec. 13, 2015 against the 49ers. San Francisco started Blaine Gabbert against Browns starting quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Mayfield and the Browns will finish the season with two divisional games against the Bengals and Ravens. On Sunday, Mayfield will become the first Browns QB to be favored at home against a divisional opponent since Josh McCown in 2015 against the Ravens.
According to NFL Week 16 betting odds, the Browns are “expected” to beat Cincinnati by a touchdown. Welcome to a whole new set of exceptions, Baker.