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NFL Turnovers and Their Effect
by ASA - 09/19/2012
We're just two weeks into the NFL season but wanted to point out a significant statistic relevant to the point spread. It's an 'after the fact' stat but the results are truly remarkable. If you take the time to look you'll find that teams that win the turnover battle are a ridiculous 23-2 or 92% ATS already this season. This is something we've followed for years and the pointspread numbers for teams that win the turnover battle are staggering. It goes to show the fine line between winning and losing in the NFL and because of that, how important it is to protect the football. Through two full weeks of the season there are six teams in the NFL that are +1.5 or better in turnover margin per game. Those teams are Atlanta, Washington, Houston, Baltimore, New England and Tampa Bay who have a combined spread record of 10-2 ATS. Teams that have a negative or -1.5 average turnover margin per game this season are just 3-11 ATS which includes Kansas City, New Orleans, Denver, Miami, Indianapolis, Detroit and Philadelphia. Teams to keep an eye on as potential 'play against' are the Eagles (0-2 ATS) and Saints (0-2 ATS) who were 31st (Eagles) and 24th (Saints) in turnover margin a season ago. Conversely, teams such as Atlanta, Baltimore and Houston (all 2-0 ATS this year) were all top 8 in TO margin last year and currently trend as 'play on' teams.
Again, hindsight is 20-20 when it comes to analyzing turnovers and ATS records. It’s obviously very tough if not impossible to handicap turnovers. The best way we can try and forecast turnovers is by analyzing matchups and team’s tendencies when it comes to protecting the ball. For example a few potential favorable matchups in regards to turnovers this week are…
· Houston (-2) at Denver
Houston is +5 in TO margin so far in 2012 & it finished 7th in the NFL in 2011. Denver is -4 in TO margin so far this season and the Broncos finished 27th in TO margin last season.
· San Francisco (-7.5) vs. Minnesota
San Fran is just +1 so far this season. But that could be attributed to the fact that they played two strong offenses in Green Bay and Detroit. The Niners led the NFL in 2011 with a +28 margin. Minnesota is -16 the last three years combined (finished in the bottom half of the NFL in 2010 and 2011).
· Tampa Bay (+7.5) vs. Dallas
The Buccaneers have been more aggressive on defense and smarter with the ball on offense this season and that’s led to a +3 turnover margin (finished dead last in the NFL last year with a -16 margin). The Cowboys are -2 so far this season after last week’s debacle at Seattle.
· Washington (-3.5) vs. Cincinnati
The Redskins are +5 in TO margin this season as new QB RG3 is a huge upgrade over turnover machines Rex Grossman and John Beck from a year ago (Washington finished -14 in TO margin). Cincinnati finished even in TO margin in 2011 but is already -2. And the defense has looked shaky here in 2012.
Continue to keep an eye on TO margin and certain matchups in the upcoming weeks and you may be able to get an inside edge on ATS winners in the NFL.