What's the Difference?

The Dolphins-Buffalo matchup on Sunday might at first glance appear to be a mismatch because the Bills are 6-6 and in the hunt for a playoff spot while Miami is staring at making history of the wrong kind with an 0-12 record. But closer inspection at the numbers reveals that really should have similar records. So what gives?

It's amazing, really. Just check out these numbers:

Points scored: Miami 196, Buffalo 184.

Points allowed: Miami 317, Buffalo 274.

Point differential: Miami minus-121, Buffalo -90.

NFL rank, total offense: Miami 29th, Buffalo 31st.

NFL rank, rushing offense: Miami 19th, Buffalo 20th.

NFL rank, passing offense: Miami 27th, Buffalo 29th.

NFL rank, total defense: Miami 16th, Buffalo 30th.

NFL rank, rushing defense: Miami 32nd, Buffalo, 22nd.

NFL rank, passing defense: Miami 3rd, Buffalo 29th.

NFL rank, third-down offense: Miami 31st, Buffalo 32nd.

NFL rank, third-down defense: Miami tied for 21st, Buffalo tied for 21st.

The big -- and obvious -- question: With numbers that similar, how the hell is Buffalo 6-6 and Miami 0-12?

One factor that has to be mentioned is Buffalo has the best special teams in the league, with a stud kickoff returner in Terrence McGee, a stud punt returner in Roscoe Parrish, maybe the best punter in the league in Brian Moorman, and a field goal kicker who has been near-perfect this season in Rian Lindell.

The Dolphins, on the other hand, have a now-dangerous punt returner in Ted Ginn Jr. and a very good kicker in Jay Feely, but they've gotten little out of their kickoff returns and rookie punter Brandon Fields has struggled.

So the special teams have to account for part of the difference between the Bills and Dolphins, but six games? No way.

So, what then?

For one thing, the Bills have been very good at beating bad teams, going 6-1 against teams that currently have a losing record. Do the math, and you can see Buffalo is 0-5 against winning teams, which might provide an idea that they're really not that good a team. Of course, it must be pointed out that they really should have beaten Dallas in their Monday night matchup in early October instead of losing by one point.

The Dolphins, for their part, have played six games against teams with a losing record, losing to Washington, Oakland, Houston, Philadelphia and the Jets twice.

Outside of special teams, there's no way of avoiding the coaching aspect as well. In Buffalo, Dick Jauron has earned praise for getting his undermatched team to play hard each and every single week.

And if you don't think the Bills are overmatched, just think back to what happened when they played host to New England in a Sunday night game on Nov. 18 when they got plastered, 56-10.

That Buffalo even can think about the playoffs right now is rather remarkable given that they've gone back and forth at quarterback between JP Losman and Trent Edwards, they were without star rookie running back Marshawn Lynch for three games, and their defense has been ravaged by injuries.

It would be no surprise to see Jauron get some Coach of the Year votes.

In Miami, meanwhile, Cam Cameron has been under siege all season, whether he's been second-guessed for his play-calling or his use of rookies John Beck and Lorenzo Booker. Now, the South Florida media is drilling Cameron on the team's play-calling process after reports suggested that tight ends coach Mike Mularkey was the one who called plays against the Jets last Sunday.

Clearly, there will be no Coach of the Year votes for Cameron. On the contrary, the question with him is whether he will get a second season with the Dolphins.

To put all the blame on Cameron obviously is unfair, but the difference in records between the Dolphins and Bills given their statistical standings doesn't shine a favorable light on Miami's first-year coach.


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Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and DolphinDigest.com. To read him every day, visit DolphinDigest.com and become a Miami Dolphins insider.