The value of any statistic aside from the final numbers on the scoreboard can be debated.
Time of possession? Not nearly as important in a pass-oriented NFL.
Total yards? Eh, teams with a lead might sit on the ball while the trailing team slings it around the field.
Turnover margin? A more critical stat than most, but not a black-and-white success meter either.
Start to combine stat categories, however, and you might find something notable. When speaking about the 2015 Buffalo Bills, you learn new ways to indicate how inexplicable their season has been.
Buffalo lost to Washington by 10 points Sunday at FedEx Field despite piling up statistical advantages that would suggest an almost certain victory.
The Bills led in total yards, turnover margin and time of possession. They now are 84-6 (.933 winning percentage) in games when they win all three categories since 1983, as far back as ProFootballReference.com tracks time of possession.
The Bills also led in rushing yards. With that factored in, they’ve fallen to 76-4 (.950).
Let’s take out time of possession and simply look at how the Bills have fared when leading in total yards, rushing yards and turnover margin over their 56 years: they are 137-7-1 (.948).
In none of those games had the Bills lost by more than six points before getting waxed Sunday.
One more factoid to chew on: Buffalo had 117 more rushing yards than Washington.
When out-rushing an opponent by at least 110 yards, Buffalo is 87-9-2 (.898).
Shoddy coverage and tackling after the catch helped Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins post the third-highest passer rating by a Buffalo opponent with at least 20 attempts behind Dave Krieg in 1994 and Alex Smith in 2012.
Cousins was 22 of 28 for 319 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions for a 153.7 passer rating.
He also ran 13 yards for a touchdown. Jim Zorn in 1977 and Peyton Manning in 2001 are the only players to have thrown for at least four touchdowns while running for at least one against Buffalo.
Zorn and Krieg in the same note. How about that?
The Bills packed most of their thrills into three straight offensive plays late in the third quarter.
Backup running back Mike Gillislee went 60 yards for a touchdown, the Bills’ longest scoring run in four years.
On the Bills’ next snap, rookie tight end Nick O’Leary caught his first NFL pass, a 37-yard gain.
A play later, Tyrod Taylor fired a 48-yard pass to Sammy Watkins in the end zone. Watkins became the second Bill to have a 40-yard reception in four straight games, joining Wall of Famer Elbert Dubenion in 1964.
So that was three plays for 145 yards to pull the Bills within two scores, 28-17.
I know you’ve heard this before, but it’s worth emphasizing.
The Bills amassed an NFL-high 54 sacks last season, one year after setting the club record with 57.
Justin Bieber’s apologetic “No Pressure” lyrics are more hostile than the Bills’ 2015 pass rush.
On Sunday, the Bills managed one measly sack. Jerry Hughes got it, giving him a team-leading five sacks.
University at Buffalo star Khalil Mack recorded five sacks all by himself for the Oakland Raiders last week and has 10 in his last four games. Mack leads the NFL with 15 sacks and is on the verge of breaking the Raiders record.
Nefarious D.C. dirty tricks are the only explanation for Colton Schmidt’s onside punt in the first quarter.
Schmidt, otherwise having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, dribbled a 17-yard grounder from Washington’s 41-yard line. He finished with a net average of 33.8 yards on five punts. None landed inside the 20-yard line, snapping a seven-game streak.
His season average entering Sunday was 41.2 yards, eighth in the league, but with only three touchbacks.
We good here?
National reports from NFL Network, ESPN and CBS Sports before Sunday’s game pointed to significant problems with a common denominator.
The reports described issues in player-coach and GM-coach relations at One Bills Drive.
No surprise, coach Rex Ryan after the loss denied there was any dissension between him and General Manager Doug Whaley, but Ryan conceded that changes should be expected after missing the playoffs a 16th straight season.
Ryan, Whaley, offensive coordinator Greg Roman, defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman and/ or special-teams coordinator Danny Crossman could be in the line of fire.
Crossman’s departure seems a given. He’s a holdover from Doug Marrone’s staff, and Buffalo’s special teams have been wretched. Dumping Thurman merely would be a cosmetic change because this is Ryan’s defense anyway.
Roman’s future is an interesting case. Bills owner Terry Pegula was impressed with him when Roman interviewed for the head vacancy and was thrilled to get him as the play caller.
Rest assured, unless Ryan or Whaley are fired this offseason, the changes won’t generate any relief or enthusiasm like we saw last year. Buffalo fans have been teased far too long. Every time someone gets their hopes up, they feel like even bigger suckers than the previous time.
Good luck getting that bandwagon fired up for 2016.