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One for bad, two for good: Buffalo by the unconventional numbers

By Tim Graham

A couple years back, when discussing how contemporary reception totals color Andre Reed's Hall of Fame merits, inductee Paul Warfield said: "Our game is beginning to resemble baseball, in which everyone is looking at numbers."

That's the truth.

Every year -- seemingly every week -- new forms of statistical data and computerized analyses are available for consumption.

Metrics are being invented in the hope they attain mainstream consciousness. ESPN, for example, has tried to cram its new quarterback rating formula down our throats for a year and a half.

But everywhere you look, there are fascinating numbers to mull.,, Football Outsiders,, KC Joyner (aka the Football Scientist) and ESPN Stats & Information -- to name a few -- calculate some incredible outside-the-box data based on evaluating game film and crunching numbers that used to suffice at face value.

With that in mind, I'm introducing a new series called "One for bad, two for good" in honor of legendary numbers cruncher Raymond Babbitt.

Every week I'll excavate one bad number and two good numbers for the Buffalo Bills from outside conventional NFL statistics.

Why one bad and two good? Because that was the quote, and with the way Buffalo's season is trending, I figure a bump in positive analysis might be appreciated (although tougher to find).

Let's begin, shall we?

One for bad

* Football Outsiders' chief metric is DVOA, defense-adjusted value over average. Sounds clunky, but it considers every play based on the down-and-distance situation versus a given opponent and determines whether the result of the play was above or below the statistical expectation. Football Outsiders does this for offenses, defenses and special teams.

Buffalo's defensive DVOA ranks 30th in the NFL, allowing 22.2 percent more production than the league average in similar circumstances.

Two for good

* Pro Football Focus tracks yards after contact, "the cumulative number of yards after contact with a defender." Divide that by the amount of carries and C.J. Spiller leads all running backs at 4.7 yards per attempt after a potential tackler reaches him.

Think about that for a moment. Last year's rushing leader, Maurice Jones-Drew, averaged 4.7 yards per carry straight up. So did Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. Arian Foster averaged 4.4 yards a carry.

* Sacks allowed aren't an official NFL stat because it's difficult to assign blame unless you know what every blocker's assignment was supposed to be. But STATS Inc. tallies them up.

By STATS' count, Bills center Eric Wood has not allowed any sacks this year, the only Bills offensive lineman with a clean record. He also has not committed a penalty. Left guard Andy Levitre has allowed half a sack.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |