The Buffalo Bills visit the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in a meeting involving two quarterbacks picked in the top seven of the 2018 draft.
Few players have received the attention given to Mayfield, whose Browns (2-6) have not played up to the preseason hype that surrounded a seemingly talented, albeit young, team.
Mayfield, 24, has completed 58.7 percent of his passes — down from 63.8 last season — and is tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston for the league lead in interceptions (12).
“One, I’d say we’re doing things a little differently than we had last year,” Mayfield said Wednesday after being asked the difference between this year and last year. “Two, I think we’ve been able to point out it’s all the little things.”
He was 27 of 42 for 273 yards, a touchdown and no picks in Sunday’s 24-19 loss at Denver. It was the first game this season in which Mayfield did not throw an interception.
“I think for the most part, Baker played a pretty solid game against Denver,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “Baker has a unique ability that most good quarterbacks have, like corners, is that they have short memories. They’re not worried about the last play, they’re just worried about the current one.”
Allen has helped the Bills (6-2) win three of their last four games, including a 24-9 home victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday. He’s completing 60.9 percent of his attempts, an improvement from last year’s 52.8, with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also has fumbled 10 times (three lost).
“He has improved in what we need, ” Bills coach Sean McDermott said of Allen. “He’s aware of the areas we need to build on as it relates to ball security.”
The Browns return home for the first time in three weeks. Usually, that’s a good thing for a team — but Cleveland is 0-3 at FirstEnergy Stadium this season.
Meanwhile, the Bills are 3-0 on the road this season, having beaten the New York Jets, New York Giants and the Tennessee Titans. Those opponents’ combined record is 7-19.
One factor contributing to Buffalo’s success this season has been its proficiency in the red zone. The Bills lead the league with scoring a touchdown 71.4 percent of the time they advance within the opponents’ 20-yard line.
“We understand that’s where offenses gotta make their money, gotta make their hay,” Allen said.
Kitchens cited Buffalo’s ability to run the ball in the red zone, giving extra credit to Allen.
“Their quarterback is able to scramble, pick up first downs there,” Kitchens said. “Sometimes it’s about picking up first downs in the red zone, and they’ve done an excellent job of that.”
Cleveland’s defense could get a boost with the return of safety Damarious Randall, who missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. Randall returned to a limited practice Wednesday. The Browns are 18th overall (357.5 yards per game) in total defense, sixth (216.2) vs. the pass and 30th (141.3) against the run.
Defensive end Olivier Vernon missed Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury sustained at Denver.
The Bills’ defense is third (296.3) overall and third (184.6) against the pass but 19th (111.6) vs. the run. They’ll face a backfield that includes Nick Chubb (5.2 yards per carry) and Kareem Hunt, who returns from an eight-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.