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The Tremendous Value of Ball Security in the NFL

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Though relatively small in total when stacked up against yards or points, turnovers are arguably the most important factor in a football game. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers behind their value.

Firstly, let’s look at the the raw winning percentages teams posted based on their turnover totals in 2017.

As you can see, the average chances of a win tend to drop drastically with each turnover, steadily falling from about 16-22% with each one. When not turning the ball over a single time, teams went 102-37, a percentage that would equate to about a 12-win regular season. When turning the ball over 4 times or more, teams combined to go 0-28; over the past three seasons combined, teams with 4 turnovers or more are 6-90 (.063).

Turnovers are also a major source of offense. Obviously, turnovers tend to provide offenses with prudent field position. The result of this is that the average drive started by a turnover yields far more offense than the rest simply due to that field position.

Unfortunately, in 2017 the Jets were one of the league’s least efficient teams in capitalizing off of turnovers. Here are a few notes on their performance on drives started by turnovers:

  • T-24th in average field position (own 47)
  • 26th in score percentage (45.0%)
  • 24th in TD percentage (25.0%)
  • 31st in yards per drive (15.4)

I will note that the Jets defense did a really solid job coming off of turnovers, ranking 1st in takeaway rate on such drives (26.7%) and tying for 5th in lowest touchdown rate allowed (20.0%).

Just take a look at the high rate of playoff and winning teams who were also successful in the turnover department:

Over the Jets’ seven-year playoff skid, they’ve ranked 19th or lower in turnover margin every year but one; their 10-6 campaign in 2015, when they ranked 8th in turnover margin. Their prior two years in the top half of turnover margin directly coincide with their prior two years of playoff success; ranking 5th in 2010 and 16th in 2009.

In 2017, the Jets tied for 20th in takeaways with 20, and 22nd in fewest turnovers with 24. Do you think they will be a good team in the turnover margin in 2018?


What will the Jets 2018 turnover margin look like?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Highly in favor of the Jets
    (34 votes)
  • 38%
    Slightly in favor of the Jets
    (134 votes)
  • 40%
    Slightly in favor of Jets opponents
    (141 votes)
  • 10%
    Highly in favor of Jets opponents
    (36 votes)
345 votes total Vote Now