Baker Mayfield declared he doesn't care about being booed by Cleveland Browns fans during what he acknowledged was a "s***" performance in a win over the Detroit Lions.

The Browns moved to 6-5 at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday but it was certainly not a vintage display as they ground out a 13-10 win.

Mayfield has been hampered by injuries all season and the quarterback played through the pain barrier once again before snubbing the media after the game.

Coming up against the only winless team in the NFL, Mayfield only completed 15 of 29 passes for just 176 yards, threw two interceptions and one touchdown pass for Nick Chubb.

A passer rating of 53.2 was his lowest of the season and the fourth-worst of his career.

Browns supporters vented their displeasure at Mayfield in no uncertain terms, but the 26-year-old signal-caller says he is not paying much attention to those who turned on him.

He told reporters on Monday: "Those are probably the same fans that won't be quiet while we're on offense and trying to operate. So, don't really care."

Mayfield says he did not fulfil his post-game media duties as he needed time to cool down after falling short of the standards he expects from himself.

"I've never dodged any questions or hid away from that. Just frustrated, removed the emotions and all that from it. Just decided it was best to wait," he added.

"Not one part of that's about not being accountable. I'd be the first to tell you I played like s***. I don't owe that to you guys, I owe that to my team-mates."

Mayfield marched straight off the field at the end of the game because he did not feel in the mood to celebrate the win.

"My guys know that all I care about is winning. But I'm going to be frustrated if I do stuff to make it harder on us. And I did yesterday. And that's just flat-out where it was," Mayfield said.

"But I'm never going to take winning for granted. That's something that's very hard to do in this league. And it hasn't been a very common thing around here for a long time.

"So, I'm just frustrated with how I played. That's how I've always been. [My team-mates] know how I'm going to come back and attack this week."

Nick Chubb has been activated off the COVID-19/reserve list ahead of the Cleveland Browns' Week 11 game at home to the winless Detroit Lions.

Chubb missed the Browns' defeat to the New England Patriots last week after testing positive for coronavirus.

The two-time Pro Bowler has played just seven games this year, having also missed two weeks with a calf injury. Cleveland are 4-3 with their star running back and 1-2 without him.

Indeed, the Browns' numbers across the board without Chubb are a concern, making his a timely return.

Their points per game have fallen from 27.6 to 12.7 in his absence, while both their rushing yards per game (169.6 to 118.0) and yards per carry (5.37 to 4.92) also unsurprisingly drop.

Cleveland's 217 net yards against the Patriots were their fewest in any game since Kevin Stefanski became head coach prior to last season. 

Fellow backs Demetric Felton and John Kelly were likewise placed on the COVID list before that loss, while Kareem Hunt remains injured, going some way to explaining why the Browns have rushed on 50.6 per cent of plays with Chubb in the team but just 40.0 per cent without.

Rookie backup Felton was also activated ahead of taking on the Lions.

Chubb leads NFL RBs this year for yards per carry (6.01), trailing only Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (6.03) among all players.

Despite his various absences, Chubb is third for rushing yards in 2021 (721), behind Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor (both 937).

Chubb's six rushing touchdowns are tied for his most through seven games, while only in his career year in 2019 did he have marginally more rushing yards at this stage (738).

However, the Lions are 16-4 all-time against the Browns, and their rush defense (4.36 yards per play, ranked 18th) has been far more effective than their miserable pass defense (7.68 yards per play, ranked 32nd).

Baker Mayfield says he is "probably the most beat up I've been" but still plans to play for the Cleveland Browns against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Mayfield has been playing through a torn labrum and also has a knee ailment on top of that shoulder issue.

He struggled mightily as the Browns were thrashed 45-7 by the New England Patriots in Week 10, completing 11 of his 21 pass attempts for 73 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

That dropped the Browns to 5-5 and last place in the AFC North. However, they are far from out of the mix in a crowded playoff picture and Mayfield has no plans on taking a week off even against the winless Lions.

Asked about how he feels physically, Mayfield, who did not practice on Wednesday, said: "Pretty sore. That time of the year. One day at a time but I'll be good.

"Probably the most beat up I’ve been. Multiple things, not just one."

Head coach Kevin Stefanski added of Mayfield: "Baker is as tough as they come. He's sore. He's fighting through it."

Odell Beckham Jr's departure from the Cleveland Browns is something that still stings for teammate Jarvis Landry.

Veteran wide receiver Beckham was released by the Browns last week, a move that came after his father complained on social media about his lack of involvement in the team's offense.

Beckham Sr posted an 11-minute video on Instagram, highlighting moments he felt Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield had failed to find his son.

Mayfield later stated he considered Beckham a "good friend" and wished him well.

Three-time Pro Bowler Beckham was sidelined with a torn ACL in 2020 and made 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns in six games for the Browns this season, before signing for the Los Angeles Rams.

For Landry, the exit of his friend is something that remains difficult to accept.

"It definitely was something that hurt. It stung. It still does," Jarvis said in quotes reported by the Akron Beacon Journal.

Mayfield's own form has been under scrutiny as he battles several injury complaints. Already contending with a left shoulder issue that may require surgery down the line, Mayfield has a sore foot and now a contusion on his right knee.

He threw for only 73 yards as the Browns were hammered 45-7 by the New England Patriots over the weekend but Landry leapt to the defence of his teammate.

"He's a tough man, and he's doing all the things necessary to make sure that he can be out there with us," Landry said. 

"As playmakers, when the ball's in the air, we're doing our best and understanding and knowing that it's the situation where he's got to get healthy, but we're still out here making plays with each other, for each other, and he always gives his best. 

"That's all you can ask for."

Landry has himself had issues this season, missing four games due to a knee sprain.

"I haven't been able to get the ball so much, either," he said. 

"But at the end of the day I've been able to [make the most] with the opportunities I'm given. 

"Yeah, I'm battling some things, but on Sundays I always give everything I have. And that will never change."

The Browns (5-5) are fourth in the AFC North and face the winless Detroit Lions on Sunday.

The Cleveland Browns will be without Nick Chubb and two other running backs for their Week 10 clash with the New England Patriots.

Chubb, Demetric Felton and John Kelly were all placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier in the week.

And, with all three remaining in the league's protocol, D'Ernest Johnson will be the lone running back on the active roster available for the Browns on Sunday,

Chubb played a key role in the Browns' crushing 41-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals last time out, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns, including a 70-yard run in the third quarter.

Johnson has been a regular part of the Browns' rotation at running back this season and will look to replicate his performance from Week 6, which saw him rush for 146 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Denver Broncos

Brian Hill and Dexter Williams are on the Browns' practice squad and could be activated for the trip to Gillette Stadium.

"I think it is really any position you can look at and say you are going to get into your depth at some point in the season because that is the nature of this beast," head coach Kevin Stefanski said.

"It is the next man up mentality. The guys have proven to do that over the course of this season and last season. Whoever is available to us, that is who we will use."

The New England Patriots and the Cleveland Browns head into week 10 off the back of impressive wins as both look to further improve their playoff chances when they face each other on Sunday.

Bill Belichick, who was the Browns' head coach from 1991 to 1995, has a 7-2 record against Cleveland since he became the Patriots' head coach in 2000, including winning all five home games against them.

The Arizona Cardinals boast the outright best record in the NFL right now at 8-1 after beating the San Francisco 49ers, and welcome the Panthers to State Farm Stadium as they seek to make it nine wins out of 10.

There has been a lot of talk about form, or lack thereof, when it comes to star quarterback Patrick Mahomes but he will be betting on himself to silence the critics as his Kansas City Chiefs make the trip to Las Vegas.

 

Cleveland Browns (5-4) @ New England Patriots (5-4)

The Patriots moved to 5-4 after a 24-6 win at the Panthers last week, while the Browns have an identical record following their emphatic 41-16 victory against the Bengals.

The Browns' 25-point margin of victory was their second largest in any game since the Cleveland franchise was revived in 1999. The Browns' biggest winning margin over the past 23 seasons was 38 points, in a 44-6 rout of the Cardinals in 2003.

Running back Nick Chubb has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of his past three road games for the Browns. Jim Brown is the only other player in the franchise's history with three consecutive 100-yard rushing games on the road in one season, although he managed that feat three times (1961, 1963 and 1964).

The Patriots won their last home game 54-13 against the Jets in Week 7 after losing their first four at Gillette Stadium this season. The 41-point margin of victory was the Patriots' largest in a home game since 2010, when they beat the Jets 45-3.

Baker Mayfield will have to keep an eye out for J.C. Jackson, who made two interceptions in the Patriots' game at Carolina, including an 88-yard touchdown return. Jackson has a league-high total of 22 interceptions in his four seasons in the NFL.

Carolina Panthers (4-5) @ Arizona Cardinals (8-1)

The Cardinals will go into this one as heavy favourites but the Panthers have actually won their previous five meetings, including in the 2015 Wild Card and 2016 NFC Championship games.

After throwing three interceptions last week against the Patriots, Carolina have now turned the ball over in six consecutive games. The only team with a longer active streak of games with a turnover is the New York Jets (nine games, going back to last season).

However, with Sam Darnold out for the next few weeks with a shoulder injury, the Panthers are expected to start P.J. Walker at quarterback, despite Thursday's announcement that Cam Newton has re-signed with the franchise.

Walker has previously started just one game for Carolina, which was a 20-0 win over Detroit in Week 11 last season where he completed 24 of 34 passes (70.6 per cent). The only other Panthers QB to have their first start with the team and complete a higher percentage of their passes was Steve Beuerlein in 1996 (71 percent).

The Cardinals' victory over the 49ers was the third time this season they have gone on the road and gained 350+ yards without turning the ball over. Over the past 70 years, the Cardinals have never had more than two such road games in any season.

Arizona have completed 73.9 percent of passes this season. No team in the Super Bowl era has ever held a completion percentage that high over the course of an entire season, with the 2018 Saints coming the closest (73.4 percent). 

Kansas City Chiefs (5-4) @ Las Vegas Raiders (5-3)

All eyes will be on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who finished with 166 passing yards in last week's 13-7 win against the Green Bay Packers, the second-lowest total in his career. Interestingly, Kansas City are 6-0 when Mahomes has thrown for 200 yards or fewer.

Since 2013, the Chiefs are 13-3 against the Raiders. Two of the losses were on the road (2014 and 2017), and one came at home last season.

The Chiefs home victory against the Packers last week saw their fewest points in a win since a 10-3 success over San Diego in 2015. Having allowed an average of 32.6 points against in their first five games (2-3), they have averaged just 16 points against in their previous four (3-1).

The Raiders lost to the New York Giants 23-16 on the road last week. They have lost all three games in which they have managed fewer than 20 points this season.

Raiders QB Derek Carr threw one touchdown pass and two interceptions last week. It was his first game with more interceptions than touchdown passes since Week 13 of the 2019 season, which was a 40-9 loss in Kansas City.

 

Elsewhere...

The Green Bay Packers (7-2) will be hoping to get back on track against Seattle (3-5) after a rare defeat last time out and will be confident of doing so having won nine straight home games against the Seahawks dating back to 2003 (including playoffs). It is the Packers' longest home winning streak against any opponent since 24 straight against the Lions (1992 to 2014). The Hawks' last win in Green Bay was in 1999.

The Los Angeles Chargers (5-3) will be hoping for another big performance from quarterback Justin Herbert when they host the Minnesota Vikings (3-5). Herbert tallied 356 passing yards in last week's 27-24 win against the Eagles, going 32-for-38 (84.2 percent). It was the highest completion percentage all-time by any Chargers QB to throw for at least 350 yards.

The Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) picked up a shock 9-6 win against the Buffalo Bills last week but may need to score more points against the Indianapolis Colts (4-5) if they want to succeed again. Last week's victory was the first time since the beginning of last season that a team was held under 10 points in a game and still won. Teams are now 1-59 in the past two seasons when scoring single digits.

After a bye week to clear their heads, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2) will be looking to bounce back from their 36-27 defeat in New Orleans as they travel to Washington (2-6). Since Tom Brady joined the Buccaneers in 2020, Tampa Bay are 5-1 following a loss.

Odell Beckham Jr. has signed for the Los Angeles Rams following his release by the Cleveland Browns.

The veteran wide receiver officially left Cleveland on Monday and no other NFL team put in a claim on him before Tuesday's deadline, making him a free agent.

Beckham had initially asked to be traded before last week's NFL deadline but no deal materialised and he opted to miss practice for the rest of the week.

He cleared waivers on Tuesday and was subsequently able to pick his next team, with ESPN reporting earlier in the week that he planned to sign with a playoff contender.

The 7-2 Rams are second in the NFC West, with the Arizona Cardinals (8-1) the only team in the NFL with a better record.

The three-time Pro Bowler was sidelined with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in 2020 and has made 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns in six games this season. 

Beckham was traded to the Browns by the New York Giants in 2019, where he topped 1,000 yards in four of his five seasons. The year he failed to hit that mark he spent most of the campaign out with an ankle injury. 

Julio Jones (103.8) and Antonio Brown (100.6) were the only wide receivers to average more yards per game than Beckham (92.8) between 2014 and 2018.

Odell Beckham Jr. has signed for the Los Angeles Rams following his release by the Cleveland Browns.

The veteran wide receiver officially left Cleveland on Monday and no other NFL team put in a claim on him before Tuesday's deadline, making him a free agent.

Beckham had initially asked to be traded before last week's NFL deadline but no deal materialised and he opted to miss practice for the rest of the week.

He cleared waivers on Tuesday and was subsequently able to pick his next team, with ESPN reporting earlier in the week that he planned to sign with a playoff contender.

The 7-2 Rams are second in NFC West, with the Arizona Cardinals (8-1) the only team in the NFL with a better record.

The three-time Pro Bowler was sidelined with a torn ACL in 2020 and has made 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns in six games this season. 

Beckham was traded to the Browns by the New York Giants in 2019, where he topped 1,000 yards in four of his five seasons. The year he failed to hit that mark he spent most of the campaign out with an ankle injury. 

Julio Jones (103.8) and Antonio Brown (100.6) were the only wide receivers to average more yards per game than Beckham (92.8) between 2014 and 2018.

Cleveland Browns guard Joel Bitonio has signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through the 2025 season.

The new terms are reportedly worth around $48million to Bitonio, who says he is hoping to finish his career in Cleveland.

The 30-year-old was a second-round NFL draft pick in 2014, having played college football at Nevada.

"I've been here for eight years now and seen a lot of ups and downs," Bitonio said in a statement. "To be part of that and for the team to have faith in me and allow me to be here for my entire career, it really means a lot. It's special.

"You see guys switch teams a lot and go from team to team, great players in this league. I saw Joe Thomas end his career here.

"It's something when you get into Year 8 and Year 9, it gets in the back of your mind where it'd be really special to be in Cleveland your whole career and try to win a championship with these guys.

"I just want to thank the Haslams, Andrew Berry and Coach [Kevin] Stefanski for having faith in me and providing me with this opportunity.

"I've got a lot of good friends on the O-line, and it's guys who work hard and love the game of football and are passionate about the Cleveland Browns.

"We want to run the ball, we want to protect Baker [Mayfield] and take our shots down field. There's sometimes a lack of good linemen in the league, so to get five, six, seven good ones on a team, it's really nice to have that depth and hopefully we can keep the guys together for as many years as possible."

Bitonio's extension comes just after fellow guard Wyatt Taylor was tied to a four-year extension worth $56.8million on Tuesday as Browns general manager Andrew Berry looks to lock down key players.

"After last season, we decided that one of our major football priorities would be to make Joel Bitonio a Brown for the rest of his career," Berry said in a statement.

"Joel is one of our most decorated players and is the ideal personification of our 'Tough, Smart, Accountable' mantra. We value Joel's high-level performance, leadership, consistency and durability.

"We are all excited about this extension and hopeful that at the end of his career we will all be looking forward to celebrating Joel's gold jacket fitting in Canton."

We're officially past the halfway point of the NFL season, meaning we are also heading into the home stretch of the fantasy campaign.

If you're in the cellar of your league, then it's probably time to take things a little less seriously, maybe find ways to have some fun with your lineup.

But if you're still firmly in the mix, then you can ill afford to make bad decisions as to which players to slot into the starting spots.

As always, Stats Perform is here to provide a helping hand with a look at four offensive players and a defense worthy of selection in Week 10.

 

Quarterback: Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Do not let the Chiefs' performance against the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers fool you.

Yes, the Chiefs have improved somewhat on defense of late, but they are still one of the league's worst at defending the pass.

They have given up 7.49 yards per pass play this season, while the Raiders are fifth in yards per pass play on offense (7.40).

No quarterback in the NFL has attempted more passes of 21 air yards or more than Carr (41), and he is averaging 16.4 yards per attempt on those throws.

Motivated to bounce back and claim a key win in the division after a shock loss to the New York Giants, expect Carr to be aggressive and, crucially, successful in attacking a vulnerable opponent.

Running Back: James Conner, Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers

Conner leads the NFL in touchdowns with 11 after his hat-trick in the Cardinals' win over the San Francisco 49ers last week.

He will likely get the bulk of the workload in the run game for at least the next few weeks, Chase Edmonds having gone down with an ankle injury at San Francisco.

His next assignment is a Panthers defense that has given up 100 yards rushing in three of their past four games. Back him to produce and find the endzone again at home.

Wide Receiver: Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Washington Football Team

Back off the bye and ready to mount a charge for the one seed in the NFC, the Bucs could hardly ask for a better opponent.

Washington's pass defense has conceded 109 plays of 10 yards or more this season. Only the Indianapolis Colts (110) and Miami Dolphins (112) have been more generous in that regard.

Leading Tampa Bay with 69 targets so far this season and with Antonio Brown unlikely to feature, Godwin is the top candidate to be the latest wideout to capitalise significantly on Washington's unexpected defensive frailties.

Tight End: Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Detroit Lions

Freiermuth may be the answer to fantasy managers' prayers when it comes to the famously top-heavy tight end position.

He has emerged as a key weapon for Ben Roethlisberger in recent weeks, scoring three touchdowns in his past two games.

A matchup with a Detroit defense giving up the most yards per pass play in the NFL (8.28) could provide a recipe for a career day.

Defense: Cleveland Browns @ New England Patriots

The Browns defense did an excellent job frustrating Joe Burrow and Co. in their thumping win over the Cincinnati Bengals last week.

This week, they get a favourable matchup in the form of the Patriots. Yes, the Pats are 5-4, but they rank 20th in yards per play (5.46), are tied sixth for the most giveaways (14) and lead the league with 60 negative plays on offense.

Look for Cleveland's defense to enjoy another successful day on the road.

The Cleveland Browns have placed Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton on their COVID-19 list, depleting their running back options.

Two-time Pro Bowler Chubb and rookie Felton tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The pair are vaccinated but will need to be symptom-free and produce two negative tests separated by 24 hours to be activated for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.

The Browns have signed wide receiver Ja'Marcus Bradley and defensive tackle Shelton Day to their active roster from the practice squad.

Cleveland and New England both hold 5-4 records, with the Browns third in the AFC North.

Chubb has 721 yards from 120 rushing attempts with six touchdowns in seven games this season.

Odell Beckham Jr. is free to pick his next team after clearing waivers Tuesday. 

The Cleveland Browns released the veteran wide receiver Monday and no other NFL team put in a claim on him before Tuesday's deadline, making him a free agent. 

ESPN has reported Beckham plans to sign with a playoff contender and several such teams likely will be interested. 

Beckham asked to be traded before last week's NFL deadline but no deal materialised and he skipped practice the rest of the week. 

That came after his father, Odell Beckham Sr., complained on social media about Beckham Jr.'s lack of involvement in the Browns' offence.

Beckham Sr. posted a lengthy video on Instagram showing a number of occasions on which Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield failed to find his team-mate.

Mayfield said after the Browns routed the Cincinnati Bengals 41-16 Sunday that he considers Beckham a "good friend" and wishes him well. 

The three-time Pro Bowler was sidelined with a torn ACL in 2020 and has made 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns in six games this season. 

Beckham was traded to the Browns by the New York Giants in 2019, where he topped 1,000 yards in four of his five seasons. The year he failed to hit that mark he spent most of the campaign out with an ankle injury. 

Julio Jones (103.8) and Antonio Brown (100.6) were the only wide receivers to average more yards per game than Beckham (92.8) between 2014 and 2018.

Odell Beckham Jr will not be heading to the Detroit after head coach Dan Campbell confirmed the Lions do not intend to claim him. 

Having failed to get a trade away from the Browns before the deadline, wide receiver Beckham is expected to be waived by Cleveland on Monday and hit the waiver wire on Tuesday. 

The Lions are 0-8 this season and will be first in line to snap up a significant talent at a position they could do with improving, but Campbell ruled out such a move happening. 

Asked if Detroit would be in the market for Beckham, Campbell simply replied: "Uh, no." 

He later added: "[General manager] Brad [Holmes] and I talk about everything, and he was no different. I would leave it at that. 

"Our ears and our eyes are open to everything, and if there was a certain way to make things work, we'd be open for just about any player if it made sense." 

It has been reported no team will make a claim for Beckham, meaning he will become a free agent capable of signing with any team. 

The tree-time Pro Bowler was sidelined with a torn ACL in 2020 and has made 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns since returning this season. 

Beckham was traded to the Browns by the New York Giants in 2019, where he topped 1,000 yards in four of his five seasons. The year he failed to hit that mark he spent most of the campaign out with an ankle injury. 

Julio Jones (103.8) and Antonio Brown (100.6) were the only wide receivers to average more yards per game than Beckham (92.8) between 2014 and 2018.

 

In a tumultuous week, there was a lot of noise, from relatives of football players and one of the greatest basketball players ever, hinting that Baker Mayfield was the problem for the Cleveland Browns.

Turns out, it might actually have been Odell Beckham Jr.

It remains to be seen whether Mayfield can be the long-term answer at quarterback but, with Beckham getting his wish and being allowed to move on to as yet undetermined pastures new, Cleveland's signal-caller and the Browns flourished in Week 9.

Cleveland stomped Cincinnati 41-16 on the road sans Beckham in what was a clear case of addition by subtraction.

One of the biggest stars of that stunning blowout win was a receiver likely to receive an increased role in Cleveland's passing attack in the wake of Beckham's departure, with Donovan Peoples-Jones stepping up and delivering a huge play in a season that has provided more evidence he was a steal for the Browns in the sixth round of last year's draft.

 

Peoples-Jones proves his worth

Peoples-Jones broke the game open in the second quarter with a 60-yard touchdown catch from Mayfield, giving the Browns a two-touchdown advantage that the Bengals never threatened to eat into.

It served as a demonstration of Peoples-Jones' strengths as a route-runner, the former Michigan star getting separation from Eli Apple with a corner-post route as the Browns struck gold on a play-action shot against quarters coverage.

Mayfield's deep ball was not deadly accurate, but Peoples-Jones did an excellent job of adjusting his route to flight of the throw to haul it in and stroll into the endzone.

Targeted just three times in the game, Peoples-Jones finished as the Browns' leading receiver with 86 yards, taking full advantage of his limited opportunities.

His second and final catch of the day saw Peoples-Jones display those same traits that shone through on his touchdown, helping the Browns convert on third-and-11 in the fourth quarter with the game in hand.

This time, he defeated man coverage with a jab step to the right and swim move akin to that of a pass rusher, gaining outside leverage and separation before looking the ball into his grasp and hanging on despite a thumping hit from Bengals safety Jessie Bates II.

That ability to create separation has been a constant for Peoples-Jones this season. He has produced a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted, 77.8 per cent of the time, the league average among receivers with at least 10 targets is 60.5.

Peoples-Jones' burn yards per target average of 17.91 is third among receivers who meet that 10-target threshold, while his big-play rate of 48.3 per cent is fifth.

Targeted only 18 times this season, those gaudy numbers are partially a product of a small sample size, but his 2020 performance in those same metrics suggests he would continue to perform efficiently with a more substantial role in the offense.

While his burn percentage of 65 was not as impressive, Peoples-Jones ended last season third in burn yards per target (17.11) and ninth in big-play rate (42.6 per cent).

Peoples-Jones is proving himself as a consistent downfield threat who wins with route-running, size and concentration at the catch point. His is a skill set conducive to long-term success, and that is something he should be able to enjoy playing on an offense where the strength of the run game gives the Browns plenty of strong passing game looks.

Bengals mauled by Browns run game

Like so many before them, the Bengals had no answer for Nick Chubb and the Cleveland running game. Chubb racked up his third 100-yard game of the season, averaging a remarkable 9.79 yards per carry and scoring two touchdowns.

He ripped off runs of 23, 22, 13 and 10 yards along with a 70-yard score that illustrated just how devastating the Browns' ground game can be when at its best.

Running from a three-tight end set, the Browns pulled right guard Wyatt Teller to the second level, where he executed a devastating block on Bates. Left tackle Jedrick Wills and left guard Joel Bitonio were similarly ruthless against Logan Wilson and Josh Tupou while tight end Austin Hooper and center J.C. Tretter sealed off their defenders.

That opened a gaping running lane for Chubb, who burst through into the secondary, with the aid of impressive downfield blocking from Harrison Bryant, and surged clear, leaving helpless defenders in his wake.

Chubb is now tied for the league lead with 22 rushes of 10 yards or more and, as that touchdown showed, he and the Browns can produce those backbreaking plays even when lined up in an obvious run formation against a defense playing a safety in the box.

With Cleveland consistently carrying that threat on the ground, receivers can benefit, with the danger posed by Chubb and Co. facilitating a play-action game that can deliver the kind of results Peoples-Jones produced on his touchdown.

It has been an uneven season for the Browns but at 5-4 they are still in the mix in a muddled AFC and still have a formula for success as long as that rushing attack is functioning as it did in Week 9.

That formula does not require Beckham. It is one that can work with young wideouts like Peoples-Jones, who has the traits to excel for a long time at the highest level and has proven he deserves increased opportunities.

When the Browns traded for Beckham back in 2019, he looked like a potential missing piece for a team primed to consistently contend. However, Peoples-Jones' performance in the first game since his contentious departure should leave Cleveland confident the void he leaves will not be at all difficult to fill.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said he wishes "good friend" Odell Beckham Jr. well after the NFL franchise won for the first time since the split.

The Browns released star wide receiver Beckham Jr. on Friday, having been excused from practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

That came after both his father, Odell Beckham Sr., and four-time NBA MVP LeBron James complained on social media about Beckham Jr.'s lack of involvement in the Browns' offense.

Beckham Sr. posted a lengthy video on Instagram showing a number of occasions on which Mayfield failed to find his team-mate.

On Sunday, without three-time Pro Bowler Beckham Jr., the Browns routed the Cincinnati Bengals 41-16.

"I wish him well, I really do. My feelings haven't changed," Mayfield said of Beckham Jr.

"From a personal standpoint, he's a good friend of mine. ... But I'm worried about the guys in our locker room.

"I'm proud of these guys, how they were able to focus up despite all the bulls*** that was going on this week and how they were able to do their job. We're going to see if we can build on it and continue to get better."

Beckham Jr. is set to go on waivers on Monday and Mayfield added: "We still haven't talked. But that doesn't change things. I wish him well. I wish him the best in his career."

Mayfield completed 14 of his 21 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns without an interception as the Browns improved to 5-4.

"We needed that win. Our whole locker room needed it. And they knew that. Played for each other," Mayfield said. "I trust the guys in this locker room.

"When adversity hit, nobody flinched. It was a long week. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. But proud of these guys."

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