Blueberry Turnovers


I went 3-2 in week 2 in the NFL. For my Supercontest picks the Colts let me down losing at home to the Jets on Monday night. But when you lose 5 turnovers and only gain 1 it’s nearly impossible to win that game. I can’t whinge too much about that when I put actual real life money on Denver to beat the Chiefs the previous Thursday, and they were on the right side of a 5-1 turnover differential.

Turnovers are key

Bet you’ve heard that cliché plenty of times already this season? Well it’s true. I’m always harping on about it too. Check out the table below on turnovers:

TO Diff
Data from 1991 to 2010

So the table above shows that the bigger the turnover differential, you more likely you are to win. Sorry if I’ve blown your mind. I’ve mentioned 2 games this past week where the winners had 4 more turnovers in their favour. In that data there’s only 15 teams from 310 games that have won the game despite having turned the ball over 4 more times.

But that table above does not account for the context of those turnovers. If a team is losing and there’s very little time left, then they’re in desperation mode and are more likely to throw riskier passes, thus increasing the chance of an interception. Case in point was in the Ravens Raiders game. The Ravens were down by 4 points with only 26 seconds left in the game. Flacco had to throw a long pass down field which got intercepted. So the game stats show the Ravens had 1 more turnover than the Raiders, but that last turnover wasn’t the reason that they lost.

Nevertheless turnovers are very important. A game of NFL is pretty random (“Any given Sunday”). One of the reasons for the “randomness” is turnovers. Some turnovers are a product of skill, but most are due to luck. Any team can beat another team as there’s only about 12-15 possessions for each team per game, so one turnover or more is going to have an important bearing on the result. In the aforementioned Colts Jets game; there were 22 total possessions, 11 possessions for each team. So out of 11 Colts possessions they turned it over 5 times. It really is no wonder why they lost this game.

After only 2 games let’s look at the totals turnovers so far by team:

2015Week2 TO table

Top of the table are a bunch of 2-0 teams lead by the Jets while rock bottom are the Colts who currently have no luck at all (sorrynotsorry). Both the Jets and Colts have totally unsustainable turnover differentials which are the main reasons for their current records. Coming into this week I was hoping for value backing the Colts and opposing the Jets. Well the Jets are only -2.5 at home to the Eagles. So the betting market must still have a raging hard-on for that “Chip Kelly offence”. All things considered; that Jets D, but 1st choice QB out and the unsustainable TOs; the Jets are probably still underrated and I like the -2.5 on them.

But the bet of the week in my eyes is the Colts at -3/-3.5 at the Titans.

Remember before the start of the season the Colts season wins total was 10.5, the Titans was only 5.5? Well, 2 games later the line is only -3.5! The overreaction is due to Marcus Mariota having a great game against the er, mighty Buccaneers and the Colts giving up 8 TOs. Sure the Colts O line is looking terrible, but there’s no way they’re going to continue to give away turnovers at this rate. They’re still a playoff-quality team and the Titans certainly are not, even with a promising rookie QB. I’ve put some money on the Colts at -3.5.

4 thoughts on “Turnovers”

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