The best rookie quarterback in the 2018 NFL season has clearly been Cleveland Browns #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, who’s helped lead the team to one of its best seasons literally this entire century, which unfortunately still won’t end their playoff drought.
Mayfield has thrown for 24 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions, with his first start of the season coming in Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders. The single-season rookie record for passing touchdowns is joint held by Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson, but my personal tiebreaker is Wilson didn’t throw 28 interceptions in the process, so he should be 1A and Peyton listed at 1B. If Mayfield throws three touchdowns on Sunday against an elite Baltimore Ravens defense, the record belongs to him. A pair of TD tosses puts him alongside Peyton and Russ, but to Baker’s credit, he didn’t start all 16 games like those two.
In fairness, Wilson’s record was going to be shattered last year based on how well Deshaun Watson was playing. At the time of his unfortunate ACL tear in November just days after his epic duel with Wilson at CenturyLink Field, he’d thrown 19 touchdowns with more than half the season to go. Now it’s Mayfield who has the chance to make some history on the final day of the regular season.
If the Browns can beat the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, they would finish above .500 for the first time since 2007, and potentially give the Pittsburgh Steelers a last-minute helping hand to avoid an embarrassing collapse out of the playoffs. From Mayfield’s standpoint, it’ll be easier said than done to get more than one touchdown against Baltimore’s pass defense, as they’ve only allowed 18 all season, tied for third-fewest in the NFL. In their first meeting in Cleveland, Mayfield threw for 342 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT in a 12-9 overtime win.
Whether they win or lose, whether Mayfield gets the record or doesn’t, there is genuine hope for Cleveland that we haven’t seen for quite some time. If Mayfield keeps this up, it won’t be long before “Is Baker Mayfield better than Russell Wilson?” becomes a new dumb talking point moving forward.