Baker Mayfield and the Browns don't need to wait until next year to test whether they're adequately equipped for a true playoff atmosphere.

Their season finale Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium will serve as a legitimate measuring stick.

“This is the first playoff-atmosphere game that our guys have seen,” said Mayfield, the rookie quarterback who has put the Browns back on the map this season. “[Our 17-16 win on Dec. 15 in] Denver was great, a prime-time game, but this is a big one. They're playing for a playoff spot, and we're playing to prove who we are.”

Although the Browns (7-7-1) can't qualify for the postseason, they have a chance to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2007, when they went 10-6 but missed the playoffs. The Ravens (9-6) can capture the AFC North title and the postseason berth that goes with it if they avenge their 12-9 overtime loss to Mayfield and Co. from Oct. 7 in Cleveland.

“We would obviously love to have this one and end the season on a very, very high note,” Mayfield said. “Obviously, disappointing somebody else’s playoff hopes, that's motivation, too.”

If the Browns prevail and the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1) defeat the Cincinnati Bengals (6-9), the Ravens will be done instead of headed to the postseason. The Ravens can lose and still finish atop the division standings if the Steelers lose. All four AFC North teams play at 4:25 p.m. Sunday.

“It probably will be the most energetic, the most intense game we’ve been in this year,” Browns middle linebacker Joe Schobert said.

“After what’s happened to Cleveland with them leaving and going to Baltimore, obviously the fans are going to want us to spoil their season.”

With a playoff spot on the line, the Ravens lost to the Bengals in last year's season finale. And Ravens rookie tight end Mark Andrews realizes Mayfield, his former Oklahoma teammate, will relish playing the spoiler role.

“He’s a killer. He doesn’t mess around. He’s fully intent on ruining our season,” Andrews told Baltimore reporters. “We’ll be ready for it.”

At the same time, Mayfield must be ready for the league's top defense. The Ravens are ranked first in fewest yards (284.1) and points (17.5) allowed per game. Their defense is “more on the same page,” Mayfield said, than when they last met in Week 5.

The Ravens are fourth in the league in quarterback hits (102) and tied for sixth in sacks (43). They had 10 hits and five sacks against Mayfield earlier this season. Their leaders in sacks are linebackers Za'Darius Smith (8.5), Terrell Suggs (seven) and Patrick Onwuasor (5.5).

They're also ranked third in third-down conversion percentage allowed (34), second in opponent passer rating allowed (80.7) and first in yards per play allowed (4.64).

“Anytime you play a good defense like that, it's always a good key to evaluating yourself,” Mayfield said.

Since interim coach Gregg Williams and offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens took control Oct. 29, the Browns have gone 5-2. Mayfield has been on a roll.

But it's also worth noting the defenses he has faced have been ranked 31st (Kansas City Chiefs), 28th (Atlanta Falcons), 32nd (Bengals), eighth (Houston Texans), 11th (Carolina Panthers), 24th (Denver Broncos) and 32nd (Bengals). Of those opponents, only the Texans gave him serious trouble when they intercepted three of his passes in the second quarter of their 29-13 win Dec. 2 in Houston. The Ravens have scored three defensive touchdowns in their past five games, all off fumble recoveries.

“Taking care of the ball and being careful [is important], but I still have to be myself,” Mayfield said. “I still have to let it loose and play fearless, make those throws that I've been making and trust our guys to make those plays.”

Like the Browns, the Ravens have won five of their past six games behind a rookie QB. Lamar Jackson is a dynamic dual threat who won the Heisman Trophy with Louisville in 2016, a year before Mayfield took the award home. Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick, got to know Jackson, the 32nd overall selection, through Heisman festivities and pre-draft events and embraces a shot to duel him to end the season.

“The extra motivation, the extra stuff on the side is who you're playing,” Mayfield said. “That's what makes it fun.”

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.