Winning the turnover battle is nice, and does translate to wins, but it hasn't translated to wins nearly enough for the Patriots this season.
New England leads the AFC with a plus-10 take-awaygive-away ratio. Baltimore (plus-7) and Houston (plus-5) come in second and third, respectively.
In their three wins, they've won the turnover battle.
In two of New England's losses, however, they still won the turnover battle (Arizona, Baltimore). In the loss to Seattle, each team turned it over twice.
That's going to happen when your defense gives up big-yardage passing plays on a consistent basis, especially in crunch-time situations. It's also going to happen when your offense can't stay on the field late in games.
But even so, when Jets coach Rex Ryan was asked how he could possibly draw up a game plan that doesn't involve his quarterback throwing for the majority of the time on a weak Patriots secondary, he stirred the conversation in a direction that defended that decision (if he makes it) by complementing the Pats offense and using turnover ratio figures . . . hmmmm.
"Well, with us personally I think you have to be balanced," Ryan said. "The one thing about New England, every year they get criticized for their pass defense, what they rank, and all that. But it's not about that. The Patriots play complementary football where obviously they have the number one offense in football: Scoring offense, total offense, everything else offense. So what you do is you try to win the turnover battles and when they do, this team, their record when they win the turnover battle is, you know, phenomenal. So that's something that they do that kind of gets overlooked."
Ryan said that the Patriots are 39-4 when winning the turnover battle and 8-10 when they lose it since 2008. Fine. But as noted above, the Pats are winning the turnover battle this season, but wins aren't coming at the same rate. Perhaps it's when those turnovers occur that are the difference. The Patriots have been known as an "opportunistic" defense over the years, but it hasn't been on display a whole lot this season.
The plus-10 ratio shouldn't be the reason New York doesn't throw on Sunday.
The Pats have 16 takeaways, tops in the AFC, but 10 are from fumbles. Four fumbles have come from the quarterback, four from running backs, and two from receivers.
That leaves six takeaways via interception, still good, but four came in one game against the Bills.
That could indicate that it's the Patriots front line and rush defense (ranked 8th in the NFL at 82.7 yards per game and tied for first in NFL in rushing fumbles lost) causing the majority of issues for offenses.
And since Ryan brought up "pass defense and what they rank", it might be a good idea to remind him that the Patriots rank 28th in the NFL giving up an average of 288.8 yards per game. They give up 23.5 completions per game (22nd most in NFL) and give up an average of 12.3 yards per completion (29th most in NFL).
Not taking advantage of that would be the biggest give-away of all.