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Baker Mayfield: 'We are playing to prove who we are'

Last week at this time, Baker Mayfield called on whoever inside the locker room didn't envision the Browns finishing their 2018 season with two division wins to "get out."

With Step 1 taken care of Sunday, Mayfield maintained that mindset as he eyes a playoff-type atmosphere in Baltimore.

Everything's on the line for the Ravens, who can clinch the AFC North and a playoff spot with a win Sunday. But just as much -- in a metaphorical and momentum-driven sense -- is on the line for the Browns in Mayfield's eyes.

"This is the first playoff atmosphere game that our guys have seen," Mayfield said. "Denver was great, a primetime game, but this is a big one.

"They are playing for a playoff spot and we are playing to prove who we are."

For the Browns, who have won five of their past six, the playoffs will have to wait for another season. Cleveland was officially eliminated Saturday night when the Titans beat the Redskins, but there was little impact on the swagger and confidence carried by Browns players in a dominant, not-as-close-as-the-score-made-it-seem win over the Bengals.

Now, Cleveland is smack dab in the center of the spotlight in a game that was moved into CBS' late afternoon window to draw more eyeballs. Baltimore wins the AFC North with a victory over the Browns but is completely out of the playoffs if it loses and the heavily favored Steelers beat the Bengals at Heinz Field.

Mayfield and coach Gregg Williams don't see the added stakes and attention affecting the team's approach. It was going to be full-go no matter the circumstances.

"When I have to worry about that, the best thing I do is tell people upstairs who does not belong. It is time to play, and it does not make any difference what game it is, this is how we have to play," Williams said. "People say they have more on the line that us. Really? You are interviewing every single day so don't put something on film – you want an owner to buy stock in that performance and you? We have to play, and that is up to those guys and us, me helping them with that. 

"When we have to work extremely hard on motivating somebody at this level, why? You are getting paid a lot. It is time to play."

Mayfield's proven at every stop in his career he doesn't need much to maintain his sky-high motivation. The rookie quarterback was quick to reference the team's chances to finish with a 4-1-1 division record -- easily the best it's had since the AFC North was created in 2002 -- and the chance to carry momentum into 2019 -- something Mayfield "absolutely" believes is possible if Cleveland can end the season on a high note.

"It is a lot of motivation, and it is not just about them. It is about us winning and going out on a high note, even though the playoffs are out of reach. It is about us," Mayfield said. "That is what it has always been about so that is the motivation. The true motivation is taking care of business, making sure everybody knows exactly the standard around here.

"Keep talking about setting a standard and winning is that standard so that is the goal this Sunday."