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The Correlation between Turnover Differential

and Winning in the National Football League

©2010 Hank Koebler, IV


Table  of  Contents  
Cover  Page........................................................................................................................................... 1  
Table  of  Contents.........................................................................................................................................2  
Preface .........................................................................................................................................................3  
Introduction .................................................................................................................................................5  
Review  of  Literature ....................................................................................................................................6  
Research  Question .......................................................................................................................................7  
Hypotheses ..................................................................................................................................................7  
Treatment  of  the  Data .................................................................................................................................8  
Pearson’s  Correlation  Coefficient................................................................................................................8  
Chi-­‐squared  Test  of  Independence..............................................................................................................9  
Scatter  Plot  of  the  Data .............................................................................................................................10  
Best-­‐Fit  Line................................................................................................................................................11  
Determining  the  Accuracy  of  the  Best-­‐Fit  Line  Equation..........................................................................12  
Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................................14  
Validity  of  the  Investigation’s  Mathematical  Processes  and  Conclusions ...............................................16  
Turnover  Differential  and  Predicted  Wins  for  NFL  Teams  in  2000 ...........................................................17  
Turnover  Differential  and  Predicted  Wins  for  NFL  Teams  in  2001 ...........................................................18  
Turnover  Differential  and  Predicted  Wins  for  NFL  Teams  in  2002 ...........................................................19  
Turnover  Differential  and  Predicted  Wins  for  NFL  Teams  in  2003 ...........................................................20  
Turnover  Differential  and  Predicted  Wins  for  NFL  Teams  in  2004 ...........................................................21  
Turnover  Differential  and  Predicted  Wins  for  NFL  Teams  in  2005 ...........................................................22  
Turnover  Differential  and  Predicted  Wins  for  NFL  Teams  in  2006 ...........................................................23  
Turnover  Differential  and  Predicted  Wins  for  NFL  Teams  in  2007 ...........................................................24  
Turnover  Differential  and  Predicted  Wins  for  NFL  Teams  in  2008 ...........................................................25  
Turnover  Differential  and  Predicted  Wins  for  NFL  Teams  in  2009 ...........................................................26  
Notes ..........................................................................................................................................................27  
Works  Cited................................................................................................................................................28  

 
Preface

One of the greatest of all time. Precise, accurate, unflappable in the face of pressure.

Able to read a defense both better and quicker than any other quarterback in a league.

Considered by some one of the best to ever play the game. He had already won one Super Bowl

ring, and many more were sure to come. Yet something was still missing.

By any statistical measure, he has consistently been the best quarterback in the league for

years, putting up all kinds of records every season. But when the regular season ended, he

collapsed annually. Every year his team entered the playoffs with high expectations, and every

year his play fizzled and the playoffs ended with heartbreak and disappointment. It was possible

to make the case that one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time was also a perennial

disappointment in the playoffs. Even in the one year that his team did win a Super Bowl, he had

played terribly and the team’s defense won the game for them. For this reason, even his Super

Bowl ring wasn’t enough to allay concerns that he couldn’t win a big game.

On this night, he can lay all those claims to rest, and establish once and for all that he is

worthy of being considered the best quarterback of all time. It is his second Super Bowl

appearance, and this time, the defense can’t save the day for him. The spotlight is now on him,

and he has to put the team on his shoulders and win this game.

His team is down 24-17, a margin of only one touchdown, with 3 minutes and 24 seconds

left in the Super Bowl. His team has possession of the ball, and is quickly moving downfield. A

few short completions bring the ball into the opposing team’s side of the field. Like sharks

smelling blood, he and his team can smell the endzone getting closer and closer. This is it. Tying

the game with a touchdown will be huge – he will then have a chance to win the game in
overtime, providing a dramatic finish to the biggest game of his career. This is his moment, his

time to shine.

He drops back to pass and spots his top receiver apparently wide-open at the 26-yard line.

He releases a pass with the velocity of a rocket and precision of a laser. Another completion,

another first down, and another few yards closer to tying the game.

Except the pass isn’t completed. He has misread the defense, and a defensive back leaps

in front of his receiver and intercepts the pass. He watches, helpless, as the interception is

returned 74 yards for a touchdown. His team is now down by a score of 31-17, and when they

get the ball back, their drive ends as they are stopped on fourth down near the goal line with just

over a minute left. As soon as this happens, he walks off the field and into the locker room, not

even waiting for the customary postgame handshakes.

He now has an entire offseason to cope with the all-too-familiar bitterness of a postseason

ending in disappointment yet again. This isn’t how it was supposed to turn out. Instead of

basking in the glory of a Super Bowl win, he now has to wallow in defeat. He has failed once

more in the postseason, adding fuel to the fire of the claims that he is a big-game choker. In the

blink of an eye, his mistake cost his team the Super Bowl in front of a record-setting television

audience. On the world’s biggest stage, they have come up short because of one play.

This narrative is no mere dramatization. It is a real-life account of the most important

play of Super Bowl XLIV, the most recent championship game of the National Football League.

This study will examine game-changing moments like these. Turnovers, and their enormous

impact on American football.


Introduction

Sports have always played an enormous role in the culture and psyche of nations. From

the days of the ancient Olympics, to the modern era where millions, if not billions, of dollars are

spent worldwide on professional sports, human culture has always relied on sport for spectacle.

For this reason, the National Football League, the United States’ professional American football

league, is one of the most popular sporting institutions in the United States of America.

This study hopes to highlight one aspect of winning American football, using the

National Football League and determine that aspect’s importance in deciding the outcome of

football games. Specifically, it probes the issue of turnovers, defined for the purposes of this

study as when the team with possession of the ball loses possession, either throwing an

interception or fumbling the ball.

A team’s turnover differential is defined as the amount of times their opponents turned

the ball over against them that season, minus the amount of times that they turned the ball over

that season.

Conventional coaching wisdom suggests a high turnover differential is a good thing, but

this study examines the mathematical correlation between a team’s turnover differential and their

winning percentage that season in order to test the validity of that commonly held belief.

The task of this investigation is to determine the correlation between turnover differential

and winning percentage. This task will be achieved through use of Pearson’s p-test along with a

chi-squared test to determine the link between turnover differential and winning percentage in

the National Football League.


Review of Literature

Conventional wisdom holds turnover differential to be one of the most important factors

in determining which team will win a football game. According to NFL Hall of Fame inductee

and NFL Network analyst Rod Woodson, “If you look at the history of games in general, the

more turnovers [a team commits], the less likely that team will win. Turnovers can come in

critical situations where a quarterback can either throw an interception or a defensive back can

get an interception or a fumble can happen – all of those things play a huge role in a momentum

swing or outcome of a game.”(1) In the 2008 NFL season, the five teams with the highest

turnover differential each made the playoffs, won at least 11 of the 16 games they played in the

regular season, and had a combined record of 59-21.(2)

Team Takeaways Giveaways Differential Record

Source: National Football League

Miami 30 13 +17 11-5

Tennessee 31 17 +14 13-3

Baltimore 34 21 +13 11-5

New York Giants 22 13 +9 12-4

Indianapolis 26 17 +9 12-4

(3)
In the history of the Super Bowl, the NFL’s league championship game, teams with a

turnover differential of zero in the Super Bowl have a combined 9-9 record, while teams with a

positive turnover differential have a combined record of 30-3(4).

According to Sportscapping.com writer Steve Janus, “Turnovers are one of the most

basic fundamentals of winning football.”(5) This sentiment is shared by Miami Dolphins head

coach Tony Sparano, who explained the importance of turnovers in a September 2009 interview,

saying “turnovers not only can kill a drive if you lose the ball or start one if you recover it, but it

can also reverse the momentum of a game like no other play, instantly changing field position

and giving one team a huge advantage over the other."(6)

Research Question

What correlation exists between an NFL team’s turnover differential in a given season

and their percentage of games won that season?

Hypotheses

Null Hypothesis

There is no significant correlation between a team’s turnover differential and their

winning percentage, and winning percentage is independent of turnover differential.

Alternative Hypothesis

There is a significant correlation between a team’s turnover differential and their

winning percentage, and winning percentage is dependent on turnover differential.


Treatment of the Data

Using the NFL’s official statistics found on their website, I took each team in the NFL,

and listed their turnover differential and winning percentage each season from the 2000 NFL

season to the 2009 NFL season. As there are 32 teams in the NFL, this should have provided

320 sets of data to analyze. However, because the Houston Texans did not exist until the 2002

season, there were 2 years (2000-2001) with only 31 teams, leaving the total sample size at 318.

Pearson’s Correlation Coefficient

Using the data gathered in the manner described above, a two-tailed Pearson’s p-test was

run in SPSS, Inc.’s PASW Statistics to find Pearson’s product–moment correlation coefficient

according to the formula for product-moment correlation coefficient as listed in the IBO

Diploma Programme Mathematical Studies SL Information Booklet:

Correlations

Winning Turnover
Percentage Differential

Winning Percentage Pearson Correlation 1 .646

Sig. (2-tailed) .000

N 318 318
Turnover Differential Pearson Correlation .646 1

Sig. (2-tailed) .000

N 318 318

According to the results of this p-test, the value of the correlation between winning

percentage and turnover differential is equal to 0.646 (3SF). This suggests a strong positive

correlation between turnover differential and win percentage.


Chi-Squared Test of Independence

Running a chi-squared test also supports the conclusion that turnover differential and

winning percentage are not independent of each other. For the purpose of organizing the data

into a format that can best be implemented into a chi-squared test, I listed teams as having a

losing record if they won 8 or less games in a season, and a winning record if they won more

than 50% games. Additionally, I listed a team as having a positive turnover differential if their

turnover differential is greater than zero and a negative turnover differential if their turnover

differential was zero or less. These are the charts for the Observed and Expected values:

Winning  
Observed  Values   Losing  record   record   Total  
positive  TOD   53   102   155  
negative  TOD   121   42   163  
Total   174   144   318  

Winning  
Expected  Values   Losing  record   record   Total  
positive  TOD   84.8   70.2   155  
negative  TOD   89.2   73.8   163  
Total   174   144   318  
As the values resulted in a two-by-two matrix, the number of degrees of freedom of this

chi-squared test is equal to 1. Running a chi-squared test resulted in a chi-squared value of 51.4,

according to the IBO Diploma Programme Mathematical Studies SL Information Booklet’s

formula:

The Mathematical Studies SL Information Booklet also provides a chart to determine

critical values of chi-squared:


This chi-squared value exceeds the critical value of 7.879 for testing dependence at a

99.5% significance level with one degree of freedom. This suggests that winning percentage is

strongly dependent on turnover differential.

Scatter Plot of the Data

The data for teams’ winning percentage and turnover differential was also put into a

scatter plot, with each team’s turnover differential as the x-axis, and their winning percentage as

the y-axis.
Best-Fit Line

In order to predict team’s winning percentage based on their turnover differential,

Microsoft Excel’s best-fit line feature was applied to the scatter plot of the data. This resulted in

the creation of a line with the equation f(x) = 0.0127x + 0.5004. To test the accuracy of this

equation, each team’s turnover differential was substituted into the equation to determine the

team’s Predicted Winning Percentage for that season. For example, the 2003 Tennessee Titans

had a turnover differential of 13, meaning that in the 2003 season their opponents turned the ball

over against the Titans a total of 13 more times than the Titans turned the ball over. Substituting

the 2003 Titans’ turnover differential into the function results in the following equation:

f(13) = 0.0127(13) + 0.5004

f(13) = 0.01651+0.5004

f(13) = 0.6655

Therefore, the 2003 Titans’ Predicted Winning Percentage was 66.55%. In actuality, the

Titans won 75% of their games that season, with a difference of 8.4% between the real winning

percentage and the Predicted Winning percentage. There are sixteen games in the NFL season,

which means that this formula projected the 2003 Titans to win 10.648 games that year, as

66.55% of 16 is equal to 10.648. Because there are only two outcomes of a game, a win or a

loss, a decimal value would suggest a partial win, which is impossible in the scope of this study.

Therefore, the predicted number of wins for each team was rounded to the nearest whole number

for the purposes of determining the difference between Predicted Wins and Actual Wins.
Determining the Accuracy of the Best-Fit Line Equation

These calculations were performed on all 318 of the collected data sets to find the

predicted number of games won by each team in each season from the 2000 season to the 2009

season. The differences between predicted wins and actual wins ranged from -7 to 8, for a total

range of 15. For a sixteen-game season, an error margin of fifteen is highly unimpressive and

gives the impression that the equation of the best-fit line is not a remotely accurate predictor of a

team’s win-loss record. However, closer examination of the statistics disproves this theory and

upholds the validity of the equation in question.

The mean Difference in Games Won is -0.00377, suggesting that this equation is

extremely accurate. To account for the possible presence of outliers, the median was taken as

well, and the median was equal to zero, further confirming the accuracy of the equation. The

lower quartile of the differences was -2, and the upper quartile was 2.

The standard deviation of the values of difference in games won is 2.37 games. Out of

the 318 data sets, 223 of them had a difference in games won that ranged from -2 to 2.

Therefore, 70.1% (223/318) of the sample size falls within only one standard deviation. As there

are five possible values that fit this margin of error (a difference of 2, 1, 0, -1, or -2), this

equation has a five in sixteen (31.3%) probability of being correct within one standard deviation

In theory, any prediction of the amount of games a team wins in a season has a 31.3%

probability of being correct within 2 games. However, this equation predicted the correct

number of wins within two games 70.1% of the time. 70.1 divided by 31.3 is equal to 2.23, so

the equation predicted the correct number of games won 2.23 times as frequently as it would

have if its predictions were not accurate.


When allowing for a margin of error of plus or minus one game, the equation is correct

45.9% of the time. As there are three possible values that fit this margin of error (a difference of

1, 0, or -1), this equation has a three in sixteen (18.8%) probability of being correct within one

game. 45.9/18.8 = 2.44, so this equation is correct within one game 2.44 times as frequently as it

would have if its predictions had no significant accuracy.

Out of the 318 sets of data, there were 50 instances where the predicted number of wins

was equal to the actual number of wins. This means that the equation predicted the exact number

of wins 15.7% of the time. As there is only a 1 in 16 (6.25%) chance of accurately guessing the

exact number of games won in a season, and 15.7/6.25 = 2.51, this formula is exactly right 2.51

times as often as it would be if win percentage were independent of turnover differential.


Conclusion

Given the pre-existing literature suggesting that turnover differential is one of the key

aspects of winning in American football, and the mathematical evidence from this investigation

that strongly supports this theory, it is evident that turnover differential plays an enormous role in

a team’s winning percentage.

The Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient of 0.646, obtained from the two-

tailed p-test, suggests a strong positive correlation among turnover differential and winning

percentage. In other words, the teams with higher turnover differentials in a season tend to win

more games.

The chi-squared test results further suggest that winning percentage is highly dependent

on turnover differential. The chi-squared value of 51.4 greatly exceeds the critical value for 1

degree of freedom at the 99.5% significance level, which is indicative of a major discrepancy

between observed and expected values in the chi-squared data tables.

For these reasons, this investigation rejects the null hypothesis that there is no significant

correlation between a team’s turnover differential and their winning percentage, and winning

percentage is independent of turnover differential.

Without a doubt, there is a statistically significant correlation between a team’s turnover

differential and their winning percentage, and winning percentage is indeed dependent on

turnover differential.

Though there is no way to determine the cause of this correlation, it is possible to

hypothesize as to the reasons that these two variables are so closely tied to each other. As
mentioned before, teams that obtain a higher turnover differential tend to win more of their

games. There are two potential causes of this. It is possible that these teams that win the most

games are simply the best teams, and therefore, they are better at achieving a high turnover

differential. On the other hand, it is possible that a high turnover differential makes a team much

more likely to win the game. In reality, it is probably a combination of these two factors that

explains why turnover differential and winning percentage are so closely linked.
Validity of the Investigation’s Mathematical Processes and Conclusions

The amount of data for this investigation was adequate enough to prevent outliers from

skewing the data. 318 sets of data was more than enough to avoid this, although the study is

limited in the sense that it only evaluates the past 10 years. For a more thorough and informative

investigation, one could examine one could examine turnover differential on a team-by-team

basis, and determine if there are some teams with consistently high or low turnover differentials.

One could then discuss the teams’ winning percentage over this period of time, and determine

each team’s correlation between turnover differential and winning percentage.

The reason this correlation could differ by team is because all teams perform differently.

Some teams are able to capitalize on turnovers and exploit even their opponents’ smallest

mistakes, while other teams are so ineffective that they have difficulty scoring no matter what the

situation. Therefore, teams vary in their ability to obtain points from turnovers, and that could

affect their winning percentage as well.

As far as mathematical processes, this investigation used both a two-tailed p-test and a

chi-squared test, which both resulted in an incredibly strong correlation between the two

variables. These were appropriate methods of determining the correlation and dependence, and

their results were very convincing.

The best-fit line equation appeared to be quite accurate, but it only works within the

range of -39 < TOD < 39; otherwise it results that are nonsensical in the context of this

investigation – winning percentages that are either negative numbers or over 100%. Since the

largest value of TOD was 24, and the lowest was -28, this does not appear to have affected the

validity of the results.


Turnover Differential and Predicted Wins for NFL Teams in 2000

Team    TOD   Predicted  Win  %   Wins   Predicted  Wins   Difference  in  Wins  
49ers   2   52.58%   6   8   -­‐2  
Bears   -­‐9   38.61%   5   6   -­‐1  
Bengals   -­‐14   32.26%   4   5   -­‐1  
Bills   6   57.66%   8   9   -­‐1  
Broncos   19   74.17%   11   12   -­‐1  
Browns   -­‐3   46.23%   3   7   -­‐4  
Buccaneers   17   71.63%   10   11   -­‐1  
Cardinals   -­‐24   19.56%   3   3   0  
Chargers   -­‐28   14.48%   1   2   -­‐1  
Chiefs   3   53.85%   7   9   -­‐2  
Colts   -­‐7   41.15%   10   7   3  
Cowboys   -­‐14   32.26%   5   5   0  
Dolphins   15   69.09%   11   11   0  
Eagles   2   52.58%   11   8   3  
Falcons   -­‐9   38.61%   4   6   -­‐2  
Giants   8   60.20%   12   10   2  
Jaguars   1   51.31%   7   8   -­‐1  
Jets     -­‐5   43.69%   9   7   2  
Lions   11   64.01%   9   10   -­‐1  
Packers   -­‐5   43.69%   9   7   2  
Panthers   3   53.85%   7   9   -­‐2  
Patriots   -­‐2   47.50%   5   8   -­‐3  
Raiders   17   71.63%   12   11   1  
Rams   -­‐10   37.34%   10   6   4  
Ravens   23   79.25%   12   13   -­‐1  
Redskins   0   50.04%   8   8   0  
Saints   9   61.47%   10   10   0  
Seahawks   -­‐9   38.61%   6   6   0  
Steelers   12   65.28%   9   10   -­‐1  
Titans   2   52.58%   13   8   5  
Vikings   -­‐11   36.07%   11   6   5  

• TOD = Turnover Differential, defined in the introduction as the amount of times a team’s
opponents lose possession of the ball (via an interception or a fumble) in one season,
minus the amount of times the team loses possession of the ball in one season
• Predicted Win % is according to the function f(x) = 0.0127x + 0.5004
• Difference in Wins = Actual Wins – Predicted Wins
Turnover Differential and Predicted Wins for NFL Teams in 2001

Team    TOD   Predicted  Win  %   Wins   Predicted  Wins   Difference  in  Wins  
49ers   15   69.09%   12   11   1  
Bears   13   66.55%   13   11   2  
Bengals   -­‐9   38.61%   6   6   0  
Bills   -­‐14   32.26%   3   5   -­‐2  
Broncos   10   62.74%   8   10   -­‐2  
Browns   9   61.47%   7   10   -­‐3  
Buccaneers   17   71.63%   9   11   -­‐2  
Cardinals   -­‐3   46.23%   7   7   0  
Chargers   2   52.58%   5   8   -­‐3  
Chiefs   -­‐7   41.15%   6   7   -­‐1  
Colts   -­‐13   33.53%   6   5   1  
Cowboys   -­‐9   38.61%   5   6   -­‐1  
Dolphins   -­‐10   37.34%   11   6   5  
Eagles   9   61.47%   11   10   1  
Falcons   2   52.58%   7   8   -­‐1  
Giants   -­‐1   48.77%   7   8   -­‐1  
Jaguars   -­‐3   46.23%   6   7   -­‐1  
Jets     18   72.90%   10   12   -­‐2  
Lions   -­‐16   29.72%   2   5   -­‐3  
Packers   12   65.28%   12   10   2  
Panthers   1   51.31%   1   8   -­‐7  
Patriots   7   58.93%   11   9   2  
Raiders   -­‐1   48.77%   10   8   2  
Rams   -­‐10   37.34%   14   6   8  
Ravens   -­‐8   39.88%   10   6   4  
Redskins   6   57.66%   8   9   -­‐1  
Saints   -­‐5   43.69%   7   7   0  
Seahawks   6   57.66%   9   9   0  
Steelers   7   58.93%   13   9   4  
Titans   -­‐4   44.96%   7   7   0  
Vikings   -­‐21   23.37%   5   4   1  

• TOD = Turnover Differential, defined in the introduction as the amount of times a team’s
opponents lose possession of the ball (via an interception or a fumble) in one season,
minus the amount of times the team loses possession of the ball in one season
• Predicted Win % is according to the function f(x) = 0.0127x + 0.5004
• Difference in Wins = Actual Wins – Predicted Wins
Turnover Differential and Predicted Wins for NFL Teams in 2002

Team    TOD   Predicted  Win  %   Wins   Predicted  Wins   Difference  in  Wins  
49ers   10   62.74%   10   10   0  
Bears   -­‐7   41.15%   4   7   -­‐3  
Bengals   -­‐15   30.99%   2   5   -­‐3  
Bills   -­‐12   34.80%   8   6   2  
Broncos   -­‐5   43.69%   9   7   2  
Browns   -­‐2   47.50%   9   8   1  
Buccaneers   17   71.63%   12   11   1  
Cardinals   -­‐10   37.34%   5   6   -­‐1  
Chargers   3   53.85%   8   9   -­‐1  
Chiefs   16   70.36%   8   11   -­‐3  
Colts   -­‐5   43.69%   4   7   -­‐3  
Cowboys   -­‐4   44.96%   5   7   -­‐2  
Dolphins   0   50.04%   9   8   1  
Eagles   14   67.82%   12   11   1  
Falcons   12   65.28%   9.5   10   -­‐0.5  
Giants   -­‐2   47.50%   10   8   2  
Jaguars   12   65.28%   6   10   -­‐4  
Jets     4   55.12%   9   9   0  
Lions   -­‐7   41.15%   3   7   -­‐4  
Packers   17   71.63%   12   11   1  
Panthers   -­‐7   41.15%   7   7   0  
Patriots   5   56.39%   9   9   0  
Raiders   12   65.28%   11   10   1  
Rams   -­‐19   25.91%   7   4   3  
Ravens   -­‐1   48.77%   7   8   -­‐1  
Redskins   -­‐14   32.26%   7   5   2  
Saints   8   60.20%   9   10   -­‐1  
Seahawks   2   52.58%   7   8   -­‐1  
Steelers   0   50.04%   10.5   8   2.5  
Texans   -­‐8   39.88%   4   6   -­‐2  
Titans   4   55.12%   11   9   2  
Vikings   -­‐18   27.18%   6   4   2  
• TOD = Turnover Differential, defined in the introduction as the amount of times a team’s
opponents lose possession of the ball (via an interception or a fumble) in one season,
minus the amount of times the team loses possession of the ball in one season
• Predicted Win % is according to the function f(x) = 0.0127x + 0.5004
• Difference in Wins = Actual Wins – Predicted Wins
Turnover Differential and Predicted Wins for NFL Teams in 2003

Team    TOD   Predicted  Win  %   Wins   Predicted  Wins   Difference  in  Wins  
49ers   12   65.28%   7   10   -­‐3  
Bears   -­‐9   38.61%   7   6   1  
Bengals   2   52.58%   8   8   0  
Bills   -­‐16   29.72%   6   5   1  
Broncos   -­‐4   44.96%   10   7   3  
Browns   -­‐11   36.07%   5   6   -­‐1  
Buccaneers   2   52.58%   7   8   -­‐1  
Cardinals   -­‐13   33.53%   4   5   -­‐1  
Chargers   -­‐11   36.07%   4   6   -­‐2  
Chiefs   19   74.17%   13   12   1  
Colts   10   62.74%   12   10   2  
Cowboys   -­‐4   44.96%   10   7   3  
Dolphins   2   52.58%   10   8   2  
Eagles   4   55.12%   12   9   3  
Falcons   0   50.04%   5   8   -­‐3  
Giants   -­‐16   29.72%   4   5   -­‐1  
Jaguars   -­‐4   44.96%   5   7   -­‐2  
Jets     0   50.04%   6   8   -­‐2  
Lions   0   50.04%   5   8   -­‐3  
Packers   0   50.04%   10   8   2  
Panthers   -­‐5   43.69%   11   7   4  
Patriots   17   71.63%   14   11   3  
Raiders   -­‐1   48.77%   4   8   -­‐4  
Rams   7   58.93%   12   9   3  
Ravens   3   53.85%   10   9   1  
Redskins   2   52.58%   5   8   -­‐3  
Saints   -­‐1   48.77%   8   8   0  
Seahawks   -­‐1   48.77%   10   8   2  
Steelers   -­‐3   46.23%   6   7   -­‐1  
Texans   -­‐5   43.69%   5   7   -­‐2  
Titans   13   66.55%   12   11   1  
Vikings   11   64.01%   9   10   -­‐1  
• TOD = Turnover Differential, defined in the introduction as the amount of times a team’s
opponents lose possession of the ball (via an interception or a fumble) in one season,
minus the amount of times the team loses possession of the ball in one season
• Predicted Win % is according to the function f(x) = 0.0127x + 0.5004
• Difference in Wins = Actual Wins – Predicted Wins
Turnover Differential and Predicted Wins for NFL Teams in 2004

Team    TOD   Predicted  Win  %   Wins   Predicted  Wins   Difference  in  Wins  
49ers   -­‐19   25.91%   2   4   -­‐2  
Bears   -­‐8   39.88%   5   6   -­‐1  
Bengals   4   55.12%   8   9   -­‐1  
Bills   10   62.74%   9   10   -­‐1  
Broncos   -­‐9   38.61%   10   6   4  
Browns   -­‐11   36.07%   4   6   -­‐2  
Buccaneers   -­‐9   38.61%   5   6   -­‐1  
Cardinals   1   51.31%   6   8   -­‐2  
Chargers   15   69.09%   12   11   1  
Chiefs   -­‐6   42.42%   7   7   0  
Colts   19   74.17%   12   12   0  
Cowboys   -­‐15   30.99%   6   5   1  
Dolphins   -­‐18   27.18%   4   4   0  
Eagles   6   57.66%   13   9   4  
Falcons   2   52.58%   11   8   3  
Giants   4   55.12%   6   9   -­‐3  
Jaguars   5   56.39%   9   9   0  
Jets     18   72.90%   10   12   -­‐2  
Lions   4   55.12%   6   9   -­‐3  
Packers   -­‐13   33.53%   10   5   5  
Panthers   12   65.28%   7   10   -­‐3  
Patriots   9   61.47%   12   10   2  
Raiders   -­‐17   28.45%   5   5   0  
Rams   -­‐24   19.56%   8   3   5  
Ravens   11   64.01%   9   10   -­‐1  
Redskins   -­‐1   48.77%   6   8   -­‐2  
Saints   7   58.93%   8   9   -­‐1  
Seahawks   7   58.93%   9   9   0  
Steelers   11   64.01%   15   10   5  
Texans   5   56.39%   7   9   -­‐2  
Titans   -­‐1   48.77%   5   8   -­‐3  
Vikings   1   51.31%   8   8   0  
• TOD = Turnover Differential, defined in the introduction as the amount of times a team’s
opponents lose possession of the ball (via an interception or a fumble) in one season,
minus the amount of times the team loses possession of the ball in one season
• Predicted Win % is according to the function f(x) = 0.0127x + 0.5004
• Difference in Wins = Actual Wins – Predicted Wins
Turnover Differential and Predicted Wins for NFL Teams in 2005

Team    TOD   Predicted  Win  %   Wins   Predicted  Wins   Difference  in  Wins  
49ers   -­‐9   38.61%   4   6   -­‐2  
Bears   6   57.66%   11   9   2  
Bengals   24   80.52%   11   13   -­‐2  
Bills   4   55.12%   5   9   -­‐4  
Broncos   20   75.44%   13   12   1  
Browns   -­‐7   41.15%   6   7   -­‐1  
Buccaneers   7   58.93%   11   9   2  
Cardinals   -­‐11   36.07%   5   6   -­‐1  
Chargers   -­‐8   39.88%   9   6   3  
Chiefs   8   60.20%   10   10   0  
Colts   12   65.28%   14   10   4  
Cowboys   -­‐5   43.69%   9   7   2  
Dolphins   1   51.31%   9   8   1  
Eagles   -­‐7   41.15%   6   7   -­‐1  
Falcons   0   50.04%   8   8   0  
Giants   12   65.28%   11   10   1  
Jaguars   11   64.01%   12   10   2  
Jets     -­‐6   42.42%   4   7   -­‐3  
Lions   1   51.31%   5   8   -­‐3  
Packers   -­‐24   19.56%   4   3   1  
Panthers   16   70.36%   11   11   0  
Patriots   -­‐6   42.42%   10   7   3  
Raiders   -­‐4   44.96%   4   7   -­‐3  
Rams   -­‐10   37.34%   6   6   0  
Ravens   -­‐10   37.34%   6   6   0  
Redskins   1   51.31%   10   8   2  
Saints   -­‐24   19.56%   3   3   0  
Seahawks   10   62.74%   13   10   3  
Steelers   7   58.93%   11   9   2  
Texans   -­‐8   39.88%   2   6   -­‐4  
Titans   -­‐6   42.42%   4   7   -­‐3  
Vikings   5   56.39%   9   9   0  
• TOD = Turnover Differential, defined in the introduction as the amount of times a team’s
opponents lose possession of the ball (via an interception or a fumble) in one season,
minus the amount of times the team loses possession of the ball in one season
• Predicted Win % is according to the function f(x) = 0.0127x + 0.5004
• Difference in Wins = Actual Wins – Predicted Wins
Turnover Differential and Predicted Wins for NFL Teams in 2006

Team    TOD   Predicted  Win  %   Wins   Predicted  Wins   Difference  in  Wins  
49ers   -­‐5   43.69%   7   7   0  
Bears   8   60.20%   13   10   3  
Bengals   7   58.93%   8   9   -­‐1  
Bills   -­‐5   43.69%   7   7   0  
Broncos   0   50.04%   9   8   1  
Browns   -­‐15   30.99%   4   5   -­‐1  
Buccaneers   -­‐12   34.80%   4   6   -­‐2  
Cardinals   3   53.85%   8   9   -­‐1  
Chargers   13   66.55%   14   11   3  
Chiefs   4   55.12%   9   9   0  
Colts   7   58.93%   12   9   3  
Cowboys   1   51.31%   9   8   1  
Dolphins   2   52.58%   6   8   -­‐2  
Eagles   5   56.39%   10   9   1  
Falcons   6   57.66%   7   9   -­‐2  
Giants   0   50.04%   8   8   0  
Jaguars   1   51.31%   8   8   0  
Jets     0   50.04%   10   8   2  
Lions   -­‐9   38.61%   3   6   -­‐3  
Packers   0   50.04%   8   8   0  
Panthers   -­‐5   43.69%   8   7   1  
Patriots   8   60.20%   12   10   2  
Raiders   -­‐23   20.83%   2   3   -­‐1  
Rams   14   67.82%   8   11   -­‐3  
Ravens   17   71.63%   13   11   2  
Redskins   -­‐5   43.69%   5   7   -­‐2  
Saints   -­‐4   44.96%   10   7   3  
Seahawks   -­‐8   39.88%   9   6   3  
Steelers   -­‐8   39.88%   8   6   2  
Texans   -­‐3   46.23%   6   7   -­‐1  
Titans   2   52.58%   8   8   0  
Vikings   4   55.12%   6   9   -­‐3  
• TOD = Turnover Differential, defined in the introduction as the amount of times a team’s
opponents lose possession of the ball (via an interception or a fumble) in one season,
minus the amount of times the team loses possession of the ball in one season
• Predicted Win % is according to the function f(x) = 0.0127x + 0.5004
• Difference in Wins = Actual Wins – Predicted Wins
Turnover Differential and Predicted Wins for NFL Teams in 2007

Team    TOD   Predicted  Win  %   Wins   Predicted  Wins   Difference  in  Wins  
49ers   -­‐12   34.80%   5   6   -­‐1  
Bears   -­‐1   48.77%   7   8   -­‐1  
Bengals   5   56.39%   7   9   -­‐2  
Bills   9   61.47%   7   10   -­‐3  
Broncos   1   51.31%   7   8   -­‐1  
Browns   -­‐2   47.50%   10   8   2  
Buccaneers   15   69.09%   9   11   -­‐2  
Cardinals   -­‐7   41.15%   8   7   1  
Chargers   24   80.52%   11   13   -­‐2  
Chiefs   -­‐11   36.07%   4   6   -­‐2  
Colts   18   72.90%   13   12   1  
Cowboys   5   56.39%   13   9   4  
Dolphins   -­‐7   41.15%   1   7   -­‐6  
Eagles   -­‐8   39.88%   8   6   2  
Falcons   4   55.12%   4   9   -­‐5  
Giants   -­‐9   38.61%   10   6   4  
Jaguars   9   61.47%   11   10   1  
Jets     -­‐4   44.96%   4   7   -­‐3  
Lions   -­‐1   48.77%   7   8   -­‐1  
Packers   4   55.12%   13   9   4  
Panthers   1   51.31%   7   8   -­‐1  
Patriots   16   70.36%   16   11   5  
Raiders   -­‐11   36.07%   4   6   -­‐2  
Rams   -­‐10   37.34%   3   6   -­‐3  
Ravens   -­‐17   28.45%   5   5   0  
Redskins   -­‐5   43.69%   9   7   2  
Saints   -­‐7   41.15%   7   7   0  
Seahawks   10   62.74%   10   10   0  
Steelers   3   53.85%   10   9   1  
Texans   -­‐13   33.53%   8   5   3  
Titans   0   50.04%   10   8   2  
Vikings   1   51.31%   8   8   0  
• TOD = Turnover Differential, defined in the introduction as the amount of times a team’s
opponents lose possession of the ball (via an interception or a fumble) in one season,
minus the amount of times the team loses possession of the ball in one season
• Predicted Win % is according to the function f(x) = 0.0127x + 0.5004
• Difference in Wins = Actual Wins – Predicted Wins
Turnover Differential and Predicted Wins for NFL Teams in 2008

Team    TOD   Predicted  Win  %   Wins   Predicted  Wins   Difference  in  Wins  
49ers   -­‐17   28.45%   7   5   2  
Bears   -­‐6   42.42%   9   7   2  
Bengals   -­‐2   47.50%   4.5   8   -­‐3.5  
Bills   -­‐8   39.88%   7   6   1  
Broncos   -­‐17   28.45%   8   5   3  
Browns   5   56.39%   4   9   -­‐5  
Buccaneers   4   55.12%   9   9   0  
Cardinals   0   50.04%   9   8   1  
Chargers   4   55.12%   8   9   -­‐1  
Chiefs   5   56.39%   2   9   -­‐7  
Colts   9   61.47%   12   10   2  
Cowboys   -­‐11   36.07%   9   6   3  
Dolphins   17   71.63%   11   11   0  
Eagles   3   53.85%   9.5   9   0.5  
Falcons   -­‐3   46.23%   11   7   4  
Giants   9   61.47%   12   10   2  
Jaguars   -­‐7   41.15%   5   7   -­‐2  
Jets     -­‐1   48.77%   9   8   1  
Lions   -­‐9   38.61%   0   6   -­‐6  
Packers   -­‐2   47.50%   6   8   -­‐2  
Panthers   6   57.66%   12   9   3  
Patriots   1   51.31%   11   8   3  
Raiders   1   51.31%   5   8   -­‐3  
Rams   -­‐5   43.69%   2   7   -­‐5  
Ravens   13   66.55%   11   11   0  
Redskins   0   50.04%   8   8   0  
Saints   -­‐4   44.96%   8   7   1  
Seahawks   -­‐8   39.88%   4   6   -­‐2  
Steelers   4   55.12%   12   9   3  
Texans   -­‐10   37.34%   8   6   2  
Titans   14   67.82%   13   11   2  
Vikings   6   57.66%   10   9   1  
• TOD = Turnover Differential, defined in the introduction as the amount of times a team’s
opponents lose possession of the ball (via an interception or a fumble) in one season,
minus the amount of times the team loses possession of the ball in one season
• Predicted Win % is according to the function f(x) = 0.0127x + 0.5004
• Difference in Wins = Actual Wins – Predicted Wins
Turnover Differential and Predicted Wins for NFL Teams in 2009

Team    TOD   Predicted  Win  %   Wins   Predicted  Wins   Difference  in  Wins  
49ers   9   61.47%   8   10   -­‐2  
Bears   -­‐6   42.42%   7   7   0  
Bengals   0   50.04%   10   8   2  
Bills   3   53.85%   6   9   -­‐3  
Broncos   7   58.93%   8   9   -­‐1  
Browns   -­‐12   34.80%   5   6   -­‐1  
Buccaneers   -­‐5   43.69%   3   7   -­‐4  
Cardinals   -­‐7   41.15%   10   7   3  
Chargers   8   60.20%   13   10   3  
Chiefs   1   51.31%   4   8   -­‐4  
Colts   2   52.58%   14   8   6  
Cowboys   2   52.58%   11   8   3  
Dolphins   -­‐8   39.88%   7   6   1  
Eagles   15   69.09%   11   11   0  
Falcons   3   53.85%   9   9   0  
Giants   -­‐7   41.15%   8   7   1  
Jaguars   2   52.58%   7   8   -­‐1  
Jets     1   51.31%   9   8   1  
Lions   -­‐18   27.18%   2   4   -­‐2  
Packers   -­‐2   47.50%   11   8   3  
Panthers   6   57.66%   8   9   -­‐1  
Patriots   6   57.66%   10   9   1  
Raiders   -­‐13   33.53%   5   5   0  
Rams   -­‐13   33.53%   1   5   -­‐4  
Ravens   10   62.74%   9   10   -­‐1  
Redskins   -­‐11   36.07%   4   6   -­‐2  
Saints   11   64.01%   13   10   3  
Seahawks   -­‐8   39.88%   5   6   -­‐1  
Steelers   -­‐3   46.23%   9   7   2  
Texans   -­‐1   48.77%   9   8   1  
Titans   -­‐4   44.96%   8   7   1  
Vikings   6   57.66%   12   9   3  
• TOD = Turnover Differential, defined in the introduction as the amount of times a team’s
opponents lose possession of the ball (via an interception or a fumble) in one season,
minus the amount of times the team loses possession of the ball in one season
• Predicted Win % is according to the function f(x) = 0.0127x + 0.5004
• Difference in Wins = Actual Wins – Predicted Wins
Notes

1. Turnover Differential - Key to Victory in the NFL


2. Turnover Differential - Key to Victory in the NFL
3. Turnover Differential - Key to Victory in the NFL
4. Turnover Differential Often Determines Super Bowl Outcome
5. NFL Handicapping: Turnovers
6. Turnover Differential - Key to Victory in the NFL
Works Cited

IBO Diploma Programme Mathematical Studies SL Information Booklet. Geneva, Switzerland.


November 2004.

Janus, Steve. "NFL Handicapping: Turnovers." Sportscapping.com. 14 Oct. 2009. Web. 25 Jan. 2010.
<http://sportscapping.com/articles/nfl-handicapping-turnovers/>.

"Turnover Differential - Key to Victory in the NFL." IHaveNet.com. 7 Sept. 2009. Web. 24 Jan. 2010.
<http://www.ihavenet.com/NFL/NFL-2009-Turnovers-Key-to-Victory-in-NFL.html>.

"Turnover Differential Often Determines Super Bowl Outcome." NFL.com. National Football League,
22 Jan. 2009. Web. 24 Jan. 2010.
<http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/story?id=09000d5d80e5d3d9&template=with-
video&confirm=true>.