Former No. 1 overall draft picks and college teammates Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield will square off for the second time in three years when the undefeated Arizona Cardinals visit Cleveland to take on the Browns on Sunday.
Murray, the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, is a leading MVP candidate. The Cardinals are off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 1974.
Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman winner and top pick in 2018, has helped position the Browns (3-2) as a division contender in the AFC North.
They were once on the same roster and in the same quarterback room at Oklahoma. Mayfield and Murray won the biggest individual trophy in the sport in back-to-back seasons.
“It’s always fun when we get together, when we were together,” Murray said. “The standard was the standard. “(Mayfield) gets a lot of hate or whatever, but I watched it firsthand each and every day. How hard he works, the throws he makes. I saw it all.”
The Cardinals are having more fun than the Browns at the moment.
Arizona is the NFL’s fourth-highest scoring offense (31.4 points per game) while giving up just 19.0 points per game. The differential (plus-12.4) trails only the Buffalo Bills.
Murray has completed at least 70% of his passes in four straight games, has 13 total touchdowns (10 passing) and ranks fourth in the league with a 113.0 passer rating. With proven targets in DeAndre Hopkins (312 receiving yards, 4 TDs) and A.J. Green, and dynamite rookie Rondale Moore, Murray and the Cardinals have been one of the league’s most entertaining offenses.
“(Murray) has all the bases covered,” Mayfield said. “Tremendous player. They’re playing at a high level right now.”
Offensively, so are the Browns. Mayfield posted season highs of 305 yards, two touchdowns and a 122.5 rating last week, but Cleveland fell 47-42 decision at the Los Angeles Chargers.
It was the second road loss of the year for Cleveland, which has lost four straight against Arizona, including a 38-24 defeat in 2019 when the rookie Murray topped Mayfield in the desert.
Cleveland running back Nick Chubb is second in the NFL with 523 rushing yards, Kareem Hunt is second in the league with five rushing touchdowns, and defensive end Myles Garrett — the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 — leads the NFL with 7 sacks.
The matchup figures to be one of the showcase games in the league. Murray said it’s just one of 17.
“There’s no stakes, it’s a regular season game,” he said. “Our mission is to go win, and so is theirs.”
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