One game does not an All-Pro quarterback make. But Baker Mayfield’s performance Thursday night for the Cleveland Browns was a smash-hit debut, especially for those of us who rolled the dice, gave the three and prayed that the Browns would not again be the Browns.
Dilly Dilly to Mayfield, the entire Cleveland organization and all the Browns fans who suffered threw 635 days without a victory. Now you can bet that Mayfield will be the starting quarterback when they play our Raiders a week from Sunday at Oakland.
Now lets cash some more tickets, starting with two for Saturday.
Minnesota plus 2 over Maryland
VSiN’s Dave Tuley is my favorite underdog handicapper, and he tells us this week that the wrong team is favored in this game. Playing at home Saturday, Maryland is coming off a 35-14 loss to Temple as a 15-point favorite. So Dave points out that there is no real home-field advantage for the Terps. Shop around for the Gophers plus 3 if you can find it.
Stanford –2 over Oregon
Stanford welcomes back star running back Bryce Love, and David Shaw’s organization is not intimidated by Autzen Stadium. On its last visit to Oregon, the Cardinal buried the Ducks 52-27. Stanford’s K.J. Costello is fast becoming one of the better quarterbacks in the Pac-12. He led impressive victories over USC by 14 and San Diego State by 21 –- and those Aztecs are not a bad football team. Oregon has been in the arena against nobody so far – beating Bowling Green, Portland State and San José State – and is only 1-2 ATS.
Now two for Sunday.
Jacksonville –9½ over Tennessee
I don’t expect this to be a letdown spot for the Jaguars, because they lost twice last year to the Titans. Other than an early trick play, Tennessee really didn’t do much in its upset of Houston last week. The Texans really beat themselves. Jacksonville’s defense at home is No. 1 in the NFL. Sacks and turnovers are the Jaguars’ specialty, and it will be a long afternoon if Blaine Gabbert has to play at quarterback again for the Titans. This week I saw a couple clips of Marcus Mariota attempting to throw the football with that damaged elbow, and I can’t imagine him being 100 percent Sunday afternoon, painkillers or no painkillers.
Kansas City –6½ over San Francisco
The Patrick Mahomes era is well under way. Of all the new starting quarterbacks, he is blessed with the best scoring weapons around him. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce and running back Kareem Hunt provide him with tremendous touchdown targets. The Chiefs are the most impressive 2-0 team in the league, because they went on the road to beat two AFC contenders –- the Chargers and the Steelers. Arrowhead Stadium resembles a college environment when the Chiefs are rolling. Expect it to be a raucous scene. Jimmy Garoppolo will have his hands full with the crowd noise in this one just as he did on opening Sunday in Minnesota. Garoppolo is a healthy 7-2 ATS in his career starts, but that “2” has come in the last two weeks -– at Minnesota and home against Detroit. You don’t get healthy against the spread taking on Mahomes and the potent Chiefs.