Browns QB Baker Mayfield barely made it out of Week 17 Monday Night Football in one piece after taking a career-high 9 sacks in primetime. TJ Watt and the Steelers got pressure on Mayfield all night long, allowing him to complete just 42% of passes for 185 passing yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. It was a meaningless outing for the Browns, however, who were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16.
Mayfield has spent much of this season battling injuries, the most troublesome of which was a torn labrum suffered in Week 2 against the Texans. He’s missed two games due to injury in 2021, one in Week 7 as he managed his shoulder injury and Week 15 with a knee injury. In his place, we’ll likely see QB Case Keenum, with Kyle Lauletta as his backup.
What it means for the 2022 playoff picture
Though the Browns are out of the 2022 NFL playoffs, Mayfield’s absence could have an impact on the rest of the AFC as they look to face their divisional rivals, the Bengals, in the final week of the season. The Bengals have clinched their first AFC North title since the 2015 season, having found a big spark on offense with the dream team of Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon.
The Bengals are still in play for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and a win over the struggling Browns would be just one piece of the puzzle. Cincinnati can clinch the No. 1 seed in two scenarios: A) with a Bengals win and losses from the Titans, Chiefs and Patriots, or B) with Bengals and Bills wins and Titans and Chiefs losses.