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Kyler Murray is outplaying Baker Mayfield


Six weeks into the NFL season, Kyler Murray has a better quarterback rating than does Baker Mayfield. Far better.

Hard to believe.

Six weeks into the NFL season, Murray has a better won-loss record than does Mayfield.

Impossible to believe.

But it’s true. No one saw this coming, the rough start for Mayfield and the promising start for Murray.

The last two Heisman Trophy winners, each an Oklahoma quarterback under Lincoln Riley’s tutelage, were in vastly different situations.

Mayfield the unquestioned leader of the upstart Browns, who last season went 7-8-1, Cleveland’s best record since 2007. The Browns were the popular pick to win the AFC North and challenge for a Super Bowl berth.

Murray the rookie cannon fodder for the Cardinals, who had a Swiss cheese roster, a shaky offensive line and perhaps the most unproven NFL head coach in league history, Kliff Kingsbury.

But here in mid-October, Murray is making things work and getting things done, and Mayfield is struggling for a star-studded Cleveland roster.

NFL quarterback rating is a complicated formula that factors in a variety of statistical categories.

Mayfield ranks 32nd in passer rating, at 66.0. He’s completed just 56.6 percent of his passes, with five touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Murray ranks 22nd in passer rating, at 87.6. Murray has completed 64.3 percent of his passes, with seven touchdowns and four interceptions.

Another NFL measurement is quarterback rating, which factors in rushing production. In QB rating, Mayfield moves up to 23rd in the league; Murray moves up to ninth, since he’s rushed for 238 yards.

Mayfield’s numbers from his rookie year has slipped considerably. In 2018, Mayfield completed 63.8 percent of his passes, with 27 TDs and 14 interceptions. His passer rating was 93.7.

And lo and behold, Arizona is 2-3-1 and Cleveland is 2-4.

Some wondered if the Cardinals could get to three victories all season; now they’re already at 2.5. Some picked the Browns for double-digit victories; now they’re at two, have this week off, go to New England and Denver the weeks after that, and host Buffalo on November 10. It’s not crazy to think Cleveland will be no better than 3-6 when hosting the Steelers on Thursday Night Football, November 14.

As for the Cardinals, well, the wins are about to dry up. Arizona plays at the Giants on Sunday, and that’s winnable. After that comes the Saints, 49ers, Tampa Bay, 49ers again and Rams.

Barring health issues, Murray and Mayfield will meet on December 15 in Arizona. By then, Cleveland figures to have a better record, and it would surprise no one if Mayfield has a far better statistical package.

But in mid-October, Murray has outplayed Mayfield.

Let’s get to the predictions:

Chiefs at Broncos: Kansas City 28-10. Denver has had a rough season. Joe Flacco might not be the answer at quarterback, and there’s even been talk of trading cornerstone pass rusher Von Miller. But the Broncos have won two straight, the Chiefs have lost two straight, and if Denver wins on Thursday night, the Broncos are only one game out of first place.

Rams at Falcons: Los Angeles 31-20. The Rams traded for the Jags’ Jalen Ramsey, fortifying LA’s status as the NFL’s new halfway house. Cleveland East. Welcome to the funhouse.

Dolphins at Bills: Buffalo 25-7. Miami at least is going through the motions of appearing to trying to win, by starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Jaguars at Bengals: Jacksonville 27-21. Rough year for rookie coach Zac Taylor, the pride of Norman. He’s got the worst possible combination – a bad, banged-up team. If Cincinnati doesn’t win this one, it could be looking at a winless record deep into November.

Vikings at Lions: Detroit 23-20. The Lions were victimized by squishy officiating Monday night against the Packers. This game will tell how legit is Detroit. Win, and the Lions are in the thick of the NFC North. Lose, and the Lions are in last place, with the only losing record in a tough division.

Raiders at Packers: Green Bay 24-21. That Packer defense is for real. Is Oakland?

Texans at Colts: Indianapolis 23-22. The game of the day. Two matchups Sunday pit the top two teams in the division, and this is the best. The 4-2 Texans and 3-2 Colts. The last we saw of Indy, the Colts were playing keep away from the Chiefs with a glorious running game. That’s good strategy against Deshaun Watson, too.

Cardinals at Giants: New York 24-20. If the Giants can win, they move into a tie for second place in the NFC East with either Dallas or Philadelphia. New York’s next three games are at Detroit, Dallas, at the Jets. Could something special be happening in the Meadowlands?

49ers at Redskins: San Francisco 27-16. I don’t think the 49ers are the best team in the NFC. But to prove me right, someone is going to have to beat the 49ers.

Chargers at Titans: Los Angeles 27-20. Philip Rivers is under siege with a ravaged offensive line, but Tennessee is adrift. When Ryan Tannehill becomes your answer, you’re asking the wrong question.

Saints at Bears: Chicago 16-13. I love the Teddy Bridgewater story, and the Saints’ perseverance, but it’s going to be tough to keep winning tight, low-scoring games. At some point, you get bitten.

Ravens at Seahawks: Seattle 30-20. I say Seattle is the best team in the NFC. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. The Seahawks still play the 49ers twice.

Eagles at Cowboys: Dallas 20-19. This is the other matchup of a division’s top two teams, but it doesn’t feel like a showdown. It feels like a survivor game. Philadelphia is flailing. The Cowboys are flailing. High hopes have gone bust.

Patriots at Jetropolitans: New England 29-7. Have we reached the point where the NFL is like college football, and they put a superpower on prime time no matter the opponent? The Patriots had the Giants last week on Thursday night; now it’s the Jets on Monday night. At least New England’s next two Monday night games are competitive – San Francisco and Minnesota.

Last week: 8-6. Season: 54-37-1.

Related Photos
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-7c34063fbce75e729fe63f03166971d5.jpg" alt="Photo - Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)" title="Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)"><figcaption>Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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