Baker Mayfield revenge tour vs AFC North could actually help the Steelers

Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns in action during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns in action during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns traded Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers. Here’s why his revenge tour could actually benefit the Pittsburgh Steelers.

If you think that the change of scenery for Baker Mayfield has no barring on the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 2022 season, you might want to reconsider. Recently, the Browns shipped the former first overall pick to the Carolina Panthers. However, Baker will have a chance to make his presence felt in the AFC North this year.

Mayfield is going to have an uphill battle, as the Panthers were a dumpster fire in 2021. I don’t think many are expecting them to be a very good team in 2022, but they could certainly get better QB play than they’ve had in recent years.

Baker gets a terrible rap both by fans and the media, but his career hasn’t been all bad. If you combine his 2019 and 2021 seasons, he looked like a bottom-tier starting quarterback. However, if you just take his rookie season in 2018 and his impressive 11-win year in 2020, he looks like a Pro Bowl QB:

We don’t know which Baker Mayfield we will be getting this season, but if he could play like he did in 2020, he could go on a revenge tour in the AFC North this year that could actually benefit the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mayfield trade could benefit Steelers

We knew that Baker wasn’t going to be playing a snap in Cleveland this year. The Browns burnt every bridge when they went behind his back during the Deshaun Watson trade. Fortunately for Mayfield, he will get a shot at revenge this year.

The NFC South plays the AFC North in 2022, which means that Mayfield will get a shot to prove himself once more against the Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, and most importantly, the Browns. Luckily for Pittsburgh, they’ve had Baker’s number since he entered the league in 2018.

Apart from an ugly playoff loss following the 2020 season, T.J. Watt and the Steelers defense have owned Baker early in his career. While the Ravens have produced similar results, the same cannot be said for the Bengals. Here’s Mayfield’s career record against every AFC North team, via Pro Football Reference:

Obviously, Mayfield isn’t in a great situation in Carolina and the Panthers won’t be favored in many games. However, it stands to reason that the Panthers chances of stealing a few wins in the AFC North this year are much better with Mayfield at the helm than they would have been with an incredibly mediocre Sam Darnold.

Remarkably, Mayfield has had Joe Burrow’s number over the past two seasons. Despite dealing with a shoulder injury, the Browns swept the Bengals last season, and Baker is 6-1 against Cincinnati since entering the league.

It remains to be seen how Mayfield will perform against his former team, but the Panthers’ Week 1 matchup against the Cleveland Browns suddenly got exciting. We don’t know at this time whether or not Deshaun Watson will be available for Cleveland in this game, but he’s likely to face some suspension to start the year. Mayfield could very well be the best QB in this game and he certainly has a chip on his shoulder, based on his recent comments.

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Coming away with a 2-2 record against the AFC North this year would be a huge win — assuming one of those wins isn’t against the Steelers. With as tight as the division is projected to be, Baker Mayfield’s revenge tour could actually help Pittsburgh in 2022.