AFC North pushover no more
Five happy thoughts after the Browns thumped the Ravens, 40-25.
AND NOW, KINGS: No one will be talking about Freddie Kitchens being in over his head.
No one, save his trolls, will be calling Baker Mayfield overrated.
And suddenly, Lamar Jackson is no longer the best quarterback in the AFC North.
It will be that way until next week.
In today’s sports world, where millions have an opinion and almost as many are willing to share it on social media, you are only as good as the last time you were on the field.
And so, today, the Browns are good.
WHAT A BACK: Nick Chubb is a top five tailback in the NFL.
He’s got power, speed and balance. He gets you clutch first down runs, and he can get you the long, backbreaking rushes that destroy a defense’s will.
The Ravens had just scored a fourth-quarter touchdown, then picked up a 2-point conversion to cut the Browns lead to 24-18.
As fans, we have seen this movie before.
Then, the Browns kick return was stopped at their own 17. Then, on first down, the Browns committed a false start.
Yep, the end of that movie was looking more and more predictable.
But then Chubb flipped the script.
Everyone wants creativity in playcalling, right?
Well, the Browns best play Sunday was a simple pitch right.
Chubb took Mayfield’s flip — the quarterback was under center — and the second-year tailback took off.
Untouched, he went 88 yards to the end zone.
And the game was over.
Chubb had 165 yards and three touchdowns Sunday. He’s averaging almost 100 yards a game. He’s an elite back.
The Browns also have two elite receivers in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham. Is Baker elite?
No, not yet.
But he may not need to be.
BAKER BETTER: Mayfield was really good Sunday. He threw for 342 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted, but it looked like Landry gave up on the pass route, so the pick may not have been Mayfield’s fault.
Baker was good. Most of his passes weren’t long — in fact, it was Beckham who threw the longest pass of the game — but Mayfield looked more comfortable.
This week — more than any I can remember in the last two seasons — people were questioning the quarterback’s ability.
Personally, I don’t care what former Jets/Bills coach Rex Ryan says. For many on ESPN, it doesn’t matter if you’re wrong or right, you just have to be loud.
But Mayfield sees every slight. What I was happiest about was that he didn’t play hero ball. He had weapons around him and he let them to their thing.
If he keeps doing that, the Browns will win plenty more games.
DO ENOUGH ON DEFENSE: The Browns defense is playing better this year than at just about anytime in recent memory.
It was a career game for Jermaine Whitehead. The safety — who is only playing because of multiple injuries to the secondary — made eight tackles, forced a fumble and intercepted a pass.
The biggest story of the defense — to me — is that it is thriving with reserves.
That’s a credit to the players and the defensive coaching staff.
WEEK TO WEEK: If the Browns play badly against San Francisco Monday night — the 49ers are 3-0 — everyone will be down on them again.
But at least the Browns are 2-1 in the AFC, 1-0 in the AFC North.
For years and years, the Browns have been the doormats of the division.
That win Sunday is a signal that those days are finally coming to an end.