Twentyman: At the midpoint of the season, Lions' turnover ratio stands out

Posted Nov 9, 2012

Coaches say all the time that there’s a direct correlation between turnovers and winning football games.

The numbers don’t seem to add up for the Lions at the midway point of the season.

The statistics have the Lions ranked as the No. 2 offense in the league with the league's seventh-ranked defense, yet the Lions are currently out of the playoff picture in the NFC with a 4-4 record.

What gives?

Coaches say all the time that there’s a direct correlation between turnovers and winning football games. The Lions have been on the wrong side of the turnover battle and the right side of the scoreboard in one game this this season (Week 1 vs. Rams, 3-0), but that's more the exception than the rule. It’s no coincidence that the seven teams with the best records in football all rank in the top 10 in turnover ratio.

ATL 8-0 overall +10
CHI 7-1 overall +16
HOU 7-1 overall +8
GB 6-3 overall +4
NYG 6-3 overall +14
SF 6-2 overall +3
BAL 6-2 overall +7

Looking at some of the differences between the Lions’ 6-2 start last year and their 4-4 record at the midpoint this year, turnovers are one of the big numbers that pop out.

Through eight games last year, the Lions were +12 on turnovers and had just four giveaways (three interceptions and one fumble lost).

2011 6-2 4 1 10 7 +12
2012 4-4 7 5 5 5 -2

This year, through eight games, the Lions are -2 on turnovers with 12 giveaways (seven interceptions and five lost fumbles).

While that’s certainly a telling statistic, it doesn’t completely tell the whole story.

The difference between 6-2 and 4-4 last year was the two comeback victories over the Cowboys and Vikings. The Lions trailed by 20-plus points in the second half of both of those games but came back to win by forcing turnovers (two interceptions returned for touchdowns at Dallas), playing great second-half defense (holding the Vikings to one first down in second half) and getting great production from quarterback Matthew Stafford and company late in games.

The difference between 4-4 and 6-2 this year can also be traced back to two games. If not for four combined special teams touchdowns allowed in consecutive losses to the Titans and Vikings, the Lions would probably be sitting a 6-2.

As the Lions have proven the last two years, there isn't a lot of difference between 4-4 and 6-2.

At least that's good to know because it might take 6-2 the rest of the way out to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season.