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STEELERS WON TITLES, BUT BILLS REIGN IN THIS MATCHUP

The Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers renew their rust belt rivalry Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Even the most loyal Bills fans would have to concede that the Steelers have been the more successful of two proud franchises. Buffalo is the only team to make it to four straight Super Bowls but Pittsburgh was the first team to win four Super Bowls.

But how about the fantasy world? Who'd win a simulated game if one owner had the creme de la creme among the all-time Bills and another the all-time Steelers?

Let's see how the franchises' best match up (all records include games played just with the Bills and Steelers by each player and statistical comparisons are made for fantasy game purposes only):

Quarterback: Jim Kelly vs. Terry Bradshaw. There's no need to worry about durability with two of the toughest QBs in NFL history. Bradshaw has the rings but Kelly, who grew up idolizing Bradshaw as a schoolboy in East Brady, Pa., has the numbers. Kelly, who had 26 games of 300-plus passing yards, averaged 3,224 yards and 21.5 touchdowns per season with the Bills compared to 2,000 yards and 15 scores for Bradshaw, who had just four 300-yard efforts. Kelly scorched the Steelers for a team-record six TD passes in a 52-34 victory on Sept. 8, 1991. Big advantage Bills.

Running back: O.J. Simpson and Thurman Thomas vs. Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis. Simpson averaged 1,131 yards rushing, 7.8 TDs and 19.4 catches a year, to go along with his 2,003-yard season of 1973, a league-best six 200-yard efforts and 41 total 100-yard games. "The Juice" was loose for 227 yards on 28 carries against the Steelers on Sept. 28, 1975 and owns two of the top six rushing efforts ever against Pittsburgh. Thomas averaged 995 yards rushing, 7.25 TDs and 38 catches, to go along with 46 times over the century mark. Harris averaged 996 yards, 8.3 TDs and 25.5 catches and churned 47 100-yard rushing games. Bettis' norms are 1,342 yards, 7.6 TDs and 17.4 catches and he has 35 100-yard games with the Steelers. Advantage Bills.

Wide receivers: Andre Reed and Elbert Dubenion vs. Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Reed averaged 62.7 catches, 873 yards and 5.8 TDs per season with 36 career games with 100-plus receiving yards. Dubenion caught 32.9 passes per year for 590 yards and 4.3 TDs and went over the century mark 16 times. Swann caught 37.3 balls each season for 607 yards and 5.9 TDs and went over 100 10 times; Stallworth had 38.4 catches per year for 623 yards and 4.6 TDs with 25 games of 100-plus. The Bills ended Stallworth's team-record streak of catching a pass in 67 straight games in a 13-0 win on Dec. 12, 1982, a day the Steelers completed just four passes. Slight advantage Bills.

Tight end: Pete Metzelaars vs. Bennie Cunningham. Metzelaars caught 30.2 passes a year for 292 yards and 2.5 scores; Cunningham 20.2 for 288 yards and 2.0 TDs. Slight advantage Bills.

Kicker: Steve Christie vs. Gary Anderson: Christie averaged 26 field goals and 112.3 points a year, Anderson 23.7 field goals and 103.3 points. Both men made 78.2 percent of their field goal tries. Christie made 10 kicks of 50 yards or longer with the Bills, Anderson eight. Slight advantage Bills.

Defense/special teams: Individual standout Bruce Smith (171 career Bills sacks, 14 fumble recoveries) can't lift Buffalo over the Steel Curtain of L.C. Greenwood (73 1/2 , 14), Joe Greene (66, 16), Dwight White (46 sacks) and Ernie Holmes (40 sacks). From 1974-79, the Steelers held 36 foes to single-digit scoring totals. The Bills have done that 83 times in 42 seasons. Huge advantage Steelers.

Receiver, tight end and kicker are all very close calls, but Kelly's dominance of Bradshaw, at one of the key fantasy positions, is the straw that stirs this fantasy victory for the Bills.

Week Two eye-popper

Who says seven is a lucky number? For two quarterbacks, seven made for a downright ugly Sunday. Detroit's Ty Detmer threw seven interceptions, just one short of the 51-year-old NFL record for picks in one game, in a 24-14 loss to Cleveland. And it happened against a Browns team that recorded only 12 interceptions all of last year. Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck was sacked seven times, for 41 yards in losses, in a 27-3 defeat against Philadelphia.

Week Three matchups

The good: New Orleans RB Ricky Williams recorded the first 100-yard rushing effort of his NFL career in his only game against the New York Giants, carrying 24 times for 111 yards on Oct. 24, 1999. . . . Seattle RB Ricky Watters' 168 yards rushing against Oakland last season was his highest single-game total since 1996. . . . Jacksonville WR Jimmy Smith has 26 catches for 352 yards in four games against Cleveland.

The bad: Tampa Bay RB Mike Alstott had 16 carries for 66 yards in two games against Minnesota last season. . . . Oakland QB Rich Gannon's last game against Seattle -- 5 for 17 for 136 yards with one TD and three interceptions. . . . Bettis carried 13 times for 24 yards in 1997, his only game against the Bills.
e-mail: tborrelli@buffnews.com

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