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Baker Mayfield says people want Cleveland to lose

In less than a year, the Cleveland Browns have gone from one of the NFL’s most hapless teams to one of its hottest. The Browns are a trendy pick to emerge out of a crowded field of Super Bowl contenders in the AFC thanks to a franchise-changing offseason, one that quarterback Baker Mayfield believes has made his team a target – not just of opposing teams, but football followers at large, too.

“You’ve got to believe in it and take it one week at a time. Because I wouldn’t say that everybody wants to beat us,” Mayfield said, per NFL. com’s Kevin Patra. “I think in the media and everything that comes with the hype around our team right now, people want to see us lose, just because the hype is so real. But we’ve got to go out there and take it one week at a time. We’re trying to win every week.”

The braggadocious Mayfield, of course, contributes to the hoopla surrounding Cleveland, for better and worse. The sophomore signal-caller is coming off a star-turning rookie season, taking over as the Browns’ starter in Week 4 to throw for 3,725 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions, leading his team – which had gone winless the previous season – to a 6-7 record.

Mayfield is no longer Cleveland’s only star player capable of creating a media firestorm, either. Odell Beckham Jr., a superstar many NFL fans love to hate, plays for the Browns now, as does running back Kareem Hunt, who was en route to a second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance last season before being released by the Kansas City Chiefs after video surfaced of him assaulting a woman.

Cleveland, indeed, is no longer the hunted. But collective bravado that borders on arrogance has as much to do with that reality as the Browns’ status as the NFL’s most hyped up-and-coming team.