It's funny sometimes how statistics can deceive the most casual observer of the National Football League.
Take, for example, the 12-game stats of the following two teams, who shall remain nameless to prove a point.
Team 1 has only one more first down than Team 2 this season. It also has just 42 more rushing yards. But Team 2 has accumulated 27 more total yards on offense and scored five more touchdowns and 14 more points. Of Team 2's 30 TDs, 27 have come on offense, while Team 1's offense produced 22 of its 25 scores. Team 2 also has 119 more passing yards.
So which team has the better record based on those stats? Sound just about even, don't they?
But since the game is played on both sides of the ball, let's now take a look at the defensive stats, which will be much more revealing.
Team 1 has just three more quarterback sacks than Team 2, but Team 2 has allowed 290 fewer passing yards. However, Team 2 has allowed 532 more total yards than Team 1, yielded 622 more yards on the ground -- remember this is for 12 games -- than Team 1, and has surrendered 10 more touchdowns and 94 more points. Team 1 has a whopping 10 more interceptions.
On offense, a standoff. On defense, a clear mismatch favoring Team 1.
Now for the reveal.
Team 1 is the 5-7 Browns, whose defensive superiority over Team 2, the 2-10 Buffalo Bills, suggests what could very well be a blowout Sunday when the teams meet in Western New York.
Offensively, the teams are somewhat similar except for the method they prefer to score. The Bills are no strangers to the end zone, striking mostly through the air. The Browns, on the other hand, prefer the infantry when approaching the opponent's goal line. And with a runaway truck like Peyton Hillis carrying the ball, who could blame them?
Based on the Bills' stats against the run, Brian Daboll would have to be classified as brain dead if he does not seriously increase Hillis' workload. Even with the unpredictability of the weather at this time of the year in Orchard Park, the Cleveland offensive line should get plenty of work on its zone, drive and trap blocking.
Hillis not only should eclipse 1,000 yards this season -- he's 38 yards shy -- in this one, he very well could blast past the 1,100-yard plateau. He's the perfect antidote for December football.
The way the Bills' defense hemorrhages yards on the ground, Jake Delhomme should spend most of the game honing his skills at handing off the football. And with fullback Lawrence Vickers ravaging linebackers in front of him, Hillis could have a spectacular afternoon. Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny and safety Donte Whitner (from Glenville), who lead the team in tackles, can look forward to another busy day.
The Cleveland defense, however, will not have a walkover. The Bills can be a scary team, especially when quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick drops back to throw. Nearly two-thirds of Buffalo's yards on offense this season have come through the air.
The Harvard graduate has a couple of very good receivers with whom he likes to play pitch and catch. Browns cornerbacks Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown will have to pay close attention to Steve Johnson and Bedford's Lee Evans, who have combined for 13 touchdown catches. Johnson, who has nine of those scores, has what can loosely be called Braylon Edwards hands.
On the ground, it's strictly a one-man show for the Bills with Fred Jackson, who has scored five of his club's six touchdowns via the run.
All in all, this could wind up -- weather permitting -- a high-scoring affair. The weather forecast calls for a high of around 38 with an 80% chance of precipitation. Perfect for Hills. And the Browns as they gun for three straight victories. Make it:
Browns 37, Bills 17