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Four Turnovers In A Game Spells Doom

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Matt Schaub knows that turnovers will kill your chances of winning. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.
Matt Schaub knows that turnovers will kill your chances of winning. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

We can all agree that committing four or more turnovers in a game will probably not lead a team to victory, right? According to research conducted on the Pro-Football-Reference.com website, there have been 3,301 times since 1970 (the AFL-NFL merger) when a team committed four or more turnovers in a game. In those games, the team that had four-plus turnovers won 651, lost 2,634 and there were 16 ties.

That puts the winning percentage of a team committing four-plus turnovers in a game at .200 (a one-in-five chance that an NFL team will win if they lose the ball four or more times in a game).

It's interesting to note the .200 winning percentage number because this year there have been 15 times when a team had four-plus turnovers; three teams won, 12 lost. That's a .200 winning percentage for 2013. The three teams that won games when they had four-plus turnovers this year? Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland.

If we expand the parameters a bit and look at the numbers going back to 2010, there have been 156 games when a team had four-plus turnovers. Teams are 20-136 in such games, a .128 winning percentage. Following are the teams that have won the most games when they committed four-plus turnovers.

Most wins (2010-13) in games with four or more turnovers
3: Chicago, Pittsburgh
2: New York Giants
1: Arizona, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Green Bay, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Minnesota, New England, New York Jets, Tennessee

One final note: If we go back to 1970, only three teams have won 30 percent or more of their games when they had four-plus turnovers in a game. Leading the list are the Raiders who have a .357 winning percentage in games when they commit four-plus turnovers. They are followed by the Steelers (.324) and Texans (.308).