The Stat That Tops Turnovers

The Packers rank sixth in the NFL in this figure, with the top 10 teams all boasting winning records. "That's an indication that you're doing things the right way," coach Mike McCarthy said.

Turnovers are the tried-and-true indicator of success in the NFL. Always have been, always will be.

But this year, there's even a stat that trumps takeaways and giveaways: time of possession. The top 10 teams in the NFL in terms of time of possession this season all boast winning records. Of the bottom 10 teams in time of possession, only 23rd-ranked New England has a winning record.

For turnovers, eight of the top 10 teams have winning records, with Detroit and St. Louis (tied for eighth at plus-5) interrupting the trend. The Packers are tied for fifth at plus-10.

"Time of possession is an important statistic," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday. "Obviously, the No. 1 key to a football game is to get the football. So, if you have the football longer than the other team, that is important. That's an indication that you're doing things the right way. But then off of that comes all the different situations involved in the football game. But, yeah, definitely, time of possession is a variable that factors into winning games."

Entering last week, the Giants led the NFL in time of possession and had won the battle in 11 of their first 14 games. On Sunday, though, the Packers won the battle by 15 minutes, thanks to six takeaways and a big disparity on third down, with the offense converting 6-of-13 (46 percent) and the defense allowing 4-of-12 (33 percent).

Green Bay led the NFL in time of possession last season (33:03) and is up to sixth (32:12) this year after hogging the ball for 78:40 of a possible 120 minutes the last two games.

A big part of time of possession is what happens on third down. After ranking 26th at the midway mark of this season, Green Bay's offense is up to sixth at 43 percent. Defensively, the Packers are 10th at 36 percent.

"The first thing you need to look at is the categories that you're operating in," McCarthy said. "Probably No. 1, more favorable down-and-distances on third down. Third down usually starts with protection. I think we've been protecting the quarterback very well. I think Aaron (Rodgers) has been playing at a very high level. Our third-down production, particularly early in the season, we had a number of interceptions and just didn't start the season the way we would have liked on third down. But since then I think we've really picked it up. It's a combination of those things."

Top 10 teams in time of possession (with their record)

San Diego: 32:58 (8-7).

Atlanta: 32:36 (12-3).

N.Y. Giants: 32:33 (9-6).

N.Y. Jets: 32:26 (10-5).

Pittsburgh: 32:21 (11-4).

Green Bay: 32:12 (9-6).

New Orleans: 32:10 (11-4).

Kansas City: 31:59 (10-5).

Jacksonville: 31:52 (8-7).

Baltimore: 31:45 (11-4).

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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