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Are Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns Better Off Without Odell Beckham Jr.?

By Stephen Douglas
Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry and Baker Mayfield
Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry and Baker Mayfield / Jason Miller/Getty Images
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The Cleveland Browns just won their first playoff game since 1994. They did it with a ton of points from a number of sources, but they also did it without Odell Beckham Jr., their high-profile star wide receiver who has been out since October with an ACL injury. This begs the question: are Baker Mayfield and the Browns better off without OBJ?

As pointed out on Reddit, Baker Mayfield's numbers have drastically improved since Odell Beckham Jr. was lost to injury on October 25. Yardage is up, turnovers are down. Plus the Browns went and won a playoff game on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Beckham had two catches for 25 yards in a blowout loss to the Steelers in September.

So could a quarterback and a team really be off without one of the most talented receivers in the league? The numbers suggest that they are, but I also don't think that's really fair to Beckham, who has kind of had his career derailed by injuries to the lower half of his body. He remains a gifted receiver and a constant threat when healthy. The question is, will he be healthy again?

The Browns have proven they can win without him this season, but if he was healthy for a full season with a regular training camp, wouldn't he be the kind of weapon the Browns would want to add to make their offense more dangerous?

The Browns also won on Sunday without their head coach, Kevin Stefanski, on the sideline. Are they better off without him? Would the first snap have gone over Ben Roethlisberger's head if Stefanski had been in the stadium on Sunday? There's just no way to be certain.

And that's why the Browns and Beckham are in a no-win situation. Anything short of Beckham returning at full strength and leading Cleveland to a Super Bowl means the Browns are better off without him. Even if they aren't.

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