NFL Turnover Differential - NFL Week 17
Teams that do not turn the ball over are far more likely to win straight up. In fact, the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game 78.7% of the time. In comparison, teams that are winning at halftime only win 77.2% of the time. Identifying teams that are susceptible to turning the ball over can go a long way to picking winners. When handicapping teams, it is also prudent to determine how much turnover differential factors into their success or failures on the field.
When analyzing turnover differential, it is extremely important to note how impactful it is to the outcome of the games. For instance, when a team has 3 turnovers in a single game, their chance of winning straight up is 10%. That number climbs to 11% when factoring against the spread win percentage. Teams with a negative 3 turnover margin lose by an average of 13 points straight up. The more turnovers, the less likely you win straight up and against the spread.
Taking a look at the NFL through 16 weeks, there are some interesting outliers, or teams that have over-performed or under-performed based upon their turnover margin. The Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins are the only two teams that have a positive turnover margin, yet a negative point differential. As bad as these two teams have been, they may have been inflated due to turnover margin. Conversely, the Cowboys, Rams, Eagles, and Buccaneers are the only teams with a negative turnover margin and a positive point differential. These teams have overcome their turnovers throughout the season.
The takeaway: there is an extremely strong correlation between turnover margin and point differential.