The major sports story of the year is being reported, speculated and discussed ad nauseam, and frankly, providing commentary on the issue would only be adding to the already incessant noise. Truth be told, there is little we can add to the discussion so we'll stick with the task at hand: Week 14 of the NFL season, specifically the game of the week... and, no, it's not Belichick vs. Mangini.
We're talking about Bills/Browns -- the winner of which could potentially secure the final AFC wildcard spot. Looking at our numbers, which put more weight into both converting and defending third-downs, the Browns offense is slightly above average in moving the chains on third down and off the charts in the defending against them. Now, with a rare exception of a Lee Evans jump-ball, Buffalo doesn't exactly open up the play book Belichick-style. No one can deny that Trent Edwards is the reason for the Bills' improved offense, but they are still hovering around the league average in third down conversions. This is OK, considering they were flat-out awful in the first half of the season. It's a different story as far as the defense is concerned. Before last week's win against the mail-it-in Dolphins, Buffalo had given up first downs quite frequently -- 50%, 53%, 91%, 56% and 47%.
The short of it is: Cleveland's offense, which most believe to be the reason for the Browns run of late, is doing all right. The defensive has been great. Our numbers seem to indicate that the Browns have a good chance of coming out on top, but nothing is certain. Just following where the data leads us.
Checking in with SportsInsights, the betting public likes the Browns too, but it certainly isn't a one-sided affair. Cleveland has the majority amount of bets, tipping the scales 56/44 and raising the price from the opening of 5.5 to its current price of 6.
However, whatever the outcome, who would've had the Bills and Browns competing in anything other than 2008 draft positioning? Yet another example of the gap that exists between expectations and actual, on-the-field performance.