Browns vs. Dolphins: What do the numbers say about this matchup?

The Cleveland Browns are coming off of their bye week, getting healthy, and are ready to take on the Miami Dolphins. Looking to win two in a row and save their season, the Browns will take on the 6-3 Dolphins, who line up pretty evenly on paper. Long story short, the Browns vs. Dolphins should be a good one.

Offensively, both teams are scoring at rates near the top in the entire league, and defensively, they are both lagging in preventing them.

We take a look here at how these two teams, unit-by-unit, match up with one another ahead of Sunday’s showdown in this Browns vs. Dolphins game. The numbers used in this article come from Football Outsiders and RBSDM.com.

Browns vs. Dolphins
Browns vs. Dolphins

Browns vs. Dolphins

MIA rushing attack vs. CLE rushing defense

Browns vs. Dolphins
Browns vs. Dolphins

Browns vs. Dolphins. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Miami’s rushing attack is not near the top in the league. In DVOA, the Dolphins’ rushing attack has been identified as the 21st most efficient threat in 2022. Alternating between Raheem Mostert and newly-acquired Jeff Wilson, the Dolphins have found some recent success, however.

Mostert falls 11th in DVOA this season, while Wilson is not far behind at 16th.

The good news for the Dolphins? The Browns’ run defense is absolutely abysmal. Only the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans have been scored out as a worse run-stopping unit than the one found in Cleveland. The Dolphins will do most of their damage through the air, but if there was a week to exploit a team on the ground, this would be it.

Advantage: Dolphins

CLE rushing attack against MIA rushing defense

Browns vs. Dolphins
Browns vs. Dolphins

Browns vs. Dolphins. Mandatory Credit: David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

While the Dolphins do not have a top-shelf run game, the Browns do. Led by the best back in the league Nick Chubb, currently second in the league in rushing, the Browns hand the football off to their running backs more than any team in the NFL. And they have found great success doing so.

Not only is Chubb second in rushing yards, but he also falls second in DVOA as well. Kareem Hunt is significantly less efficient this season, falling 25th by the same metric. As a team, only the Baltimore Ravens, led by Lamar Jackson, run the football at a more efficient clip than the Browns.

Browns vs. Dolphins
Browns vs. Dolphins

Browns vs. Dolphins

The Dolphins, however, are no slouches against the run either. Using the same efficiency metric, this Miami defense is a top-ten unit against the run, falling seventh. There are, however, other fringe top-ten units below the Dolphins who the Browns have been able to beat on the ground, including the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cincinnati Bengals.

While the sledding might be a bit more difficult on the ground this Sunday for Chubb and the Browns, they still hold an advantage over the Dolphins on paper.

Advantage: Browns

MIA passing attack vs. CLE passing defense

Browns vs. Dolphins
Browns vs. Dolphins

Browns vs. Dolphins. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for the Browns, no team throws the ball at a more lethal and efficient clip than the Dolphins. That is not a hyperbole.

Tua Tagovailoa is Football Outsider’s most efficient quarterback this season, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle both fall top-five in DVOA, and even tight end Mike Gesicki falls top-10 in a down year at his position. This team is littered with lethal weapons, meaning the Cleveland secondary and second level needs to be on their A-game.

Browns vs. Dolphins
Browns vs. Dolphins

Browns vs. Dolphins

The good news for the Browns, however, is that their secondary has been playing at a high level over their past two outings against the Ravens and Bengals. Starting in the bottom of the league, the Browns’ defense now falls 18th against the pass in DVOA despite a tumultuous start to the season.

It is not an exaggeration, however, to say this is the toughest task they have yet to face, and may be the toughest they will face all season.

Advantage: Dolphins

CLE passing attack vs. MIA passing defense

Browns vs. Dolphins
Browns vs. Dolphins

Browns vs. Dolphins. Nfl Cincinnati Bengals At Cleveland Browns Oct 31 0189

While the Miami passing offense is at the top of the league, their passing defense is at the bottom. Only the Las Vegas Raiders have a less-efficient passing defense than the Dolphins do thus far in 2022.

This bodes well for a Browns offense that is a top-10 unit through the air as well. By just about any metric, backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been playing at a minimum of a top-10 quarterback this season for the Browns. He is ninth in DVOA, seventh in QBR, and ninth in EPA per play.

As the Dolphins are stout against the run and not so much against the pass, the Browns may find more success behind the arm of Brissett in this matchup. He has a top-five tight end in David Njoku who has proved to be a significant mismatch in 2022, and a true number-one threat in Amari Cooper, who is playing at a top-ten level this season.

The Browns are going to need to hit some darts over the middle and deep down the field to keep boxes light. And Brissett has proven more than capable of doing so when needed for the Browns this season.

Advantage: Browns

A glimpse at special teams

Browns vs. Dolphins
Browns vs. Dolphins

Browns vs. Dolphins. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, the Miami Dolphins have the 32nd-ranked special teams unit in the league by Football Outsiders. The Browns are not world-beaters under Mike Priefer, falling 22nd in the same metric, but they enter this matchup with a significant advantage in the third phase of the game.

The Dolphins field a negative DVOA in every special teams unit, including a massive negative in their field goal department. The Browns are not much better, fielding their only positive DVOA on their kickoff unit, but the negatives are far less in the dirt than the Dolphins’ are.

All-in-all, neither of these teams is going to be hoping to put the game on the line and into the hands of a special teams unit.

Advantage: Browns

Final thoughts on Browns vs. Dolphins

Browns vs. Dolphins
Browns vs. Dolphins

Browns vs. Dolphins. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Long story short, despite the imbalance in their records, this Browns vs. Dolphins matchup will be a close one. And more than likely a high-scoring one as the Dolphins field a lethal passing attack and the Browns field a pretty balanced offense themselves.

Neither defensive unit is going to blow the doors off of the stadium when they line up, leaving opportunities for points. It will also not be a great showing of what spectacular special teams looks like either as both of the units are sinking below the average plane.

Coming off of the bye week, can the Browns stack wins for the first time this season and get their season back on the rails? It will not be an easy one to come away with a win in, but the Browns will have at least a small margin for error to work with.

Story originally appeared on Browns Wire