Gelb: Browns will make the playoffs, but Mayfield “still a major concern”

The Browns should still make the playoffs, Zach Gelb says, but the Steelers proved that the AFC North is a two-team race – and Cleveland isn't one of them

Zach Gelb
October 20, 2020 - 9:18 am
Baker Mayfield Browns

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The Cleveland Browns (4-2) hoped to make a statement against the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday, and they dd. Unfortunately for Cleveland, it wasn’t the good kind.

The Browns, who entered the fray with a four-game winning streak, got blown out 38-7. They trailed 24-7 at halftime, were shut out in the second half, and had no answers – offensively or defensively – for the Steelers, who improved to 5-0 with the win.

“The Steelers basically looked at the Browns and said, ‘You’re our little brothers, you’ll always be our little brothers, and you’re not ready for this moment yet,” Zach Gelb said on The Zach Gelb Show. “Now, don’t get it twisted. Don’t get me wrong. I still think the Browns are a playoff team. I told you this after the Browns got just totally demolished by the Ravens in Week 1. You got to look at the schedule. There’s a difference of being a great playoff team and then just being a good playoff team or being an ‘eh’ playoff team. The Browns, with seven teams [getting in], should still get to the playoffs this year.”

The Browns haven’t made the playoffs since 2002, but Gelb believes Cleveland’s drought will end this season, in part because of their schedule. They play at Cincinnati (1-4-1) this Sunday before three straight home games against Las Vegas (3-2), Houston (1-5) and Philadelphia (1-4-1). Then they play at Jacksonville (1-5) in Week 12.

“Even if you don’t play great and you go 3-2 [in those games], that sets you up with a 7-4 record through 11 games,” Gelb said. “Cleveland still has the Jets and the Giants on their schedule. So there is a path right there. . . . The Cleveland Browns are going to [make the playoffs] as long as they take care of business [against weaker opponents]. . . . You’ll find two to three more victories to get you to nine or ten wins. That will get you into the playoffs as the 7-seed – or maybe even the 6-seed depending on how the cookie does crumble.”

While the Browns may still make the playoffs, however, Gelb does not believe they are legitimate contenders. The Steelers proved that Sunday.

“The Browns once again showed you that even though they may be moving in the right direction, Baker Mayfield is still a major concern,” Gelb said. “When you don’t run the football well, Baker is not going to go win you the game. He had two terrible interceptions, and that team, they may doubt the quarterback. Odell didn’t look happy on the sidelines. I know Baker is going through an injury and they pulled him in the second half; they pulled him because he was playing horribly.”

Mayfield finished 10-of-18 for 119 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions – including a pick-six – and four sacks.

“The Steelers' defense abused Baker Mayfield . . . and [sent] a message that this is still a two-team race in the AFC North,” Gelb said. “There may be three playoff teams – I think there will be three playoff teams that get out of the North this year – but the Browns don’t have a shot at the Super Bowl. We knew that going into the year. That was a team that was going to win nine, ten games. I still think they will. But their quarterback – up against elite, marquee competition – he’s just not good enough right now.”