There are many statistics that tell how good or bad a team is. When it comes to ranking offenses and defense, the NFL may be missing the boat, basing it strictly on yardage. A good team can have a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter and play a prevent defense that allows an opponent to pile up “garbage yards” when the result of the game has long since been decided.
Given the complicated system used to determine passer rating, there should be a statistic that better explains how good or bad an offense or defense is – factoring in how many times it forces an opponent to settle for field goals in the red zone rather than touchdowns, how many three-and-out drives a team has on either offense or defense, etc.
But there is one statistic that is hard to argue. Coaches swear by it. Players swear by it. The numbers attest to it. It’s winning the turnover battle.
In that instance, the numbers rarely lie. Some teams will allow opponents to march up and down the field on them, but the good ones find ways to take the ball away from their opponents and not give it up themselves.
Of the 10 teams that are going to make the playoffs, almost all of them are represented at the top of the takeaway/giveaway battle, with one notable exception – the New York Giants.
Of the top 12 teams in takeaway/giveaway ratio, all but two of them (the Giants and the Buffalo Bills) are in control of their own playoff destiny.
Carolina is first at plus-19, followed by Kansas City (plus-15), Arizona (plus-10), Cincinnati (plus-9), the Giants (plus-9), the Jets (plus-8), New England (plus-7), Green Bay (plus-7), Seattle (plus-7), Buffalo (plus-4), Pittsburgh (plus-4) and the Minnesota Vikings (plus-2).
As things currently stand, only two of the teams currently in the playoffs aren’t represented in that small sample size – Denver, which is tied for 14th at plus-1 and Houston, which is tied for 16th at minus-1.
On the flip side, the teams that are the bottom of the turnover ratio battle are among the worst teams in the league, including Dallas (4-10), Baltimore (4-10), Tennessee (3-11), Detroit (5-9), San Diego (4-11) and Cleveland (3-11).
There isn’t a team in the bottom 16 of the league in turnover margin with a record above .500. In 2015, as with almost every year previous to it, if you’re looking for one statistic that tells the story of your season, takeaway/giveaway ratio is about all you have to look at to get a gauge of who’s a winner and who’s a loser.
There are a myriad of metrics that stat geeks will come up with to explain success or failure of franchises, but sometimes it’s just something as simple as finding one statistic that can do all the talking and explaining for you. This season, that’s takeaway/giveaway ratio – and it usually is.
VIKINGS-GIANTS BY THE NUMBERS
- The Vikings have the 28th-ranked offense (5th rushing, 31st passing) and the 13th-ranked defense (20th rushing, 7th passing).
- The Giants have the 12th-ranked offense (24th rushing, 4th passing) and the 32nd-ranked defense (21st rushing, 32nd passing).
- The Giants are 31st or 32nd in five different defensive categories – yards allowed, passing yards allowed, sacks per pass play, first downs allowed and third-down efficiency.
- Minnesota is averaging 324 yards a game (192 passing, 132 rushing). New York is averaging 364 yards a game (270 passing, 94 rushing).
- The Vikings are allowing 342 yards a game (229 passing, 113 rushing). The Giants are allowing 423 yards a game (308 passing, 115 rushing).
- The Vikings are 12th in takeaway/giveaway ratio at plus-2 (17 takeaways, 15 giveaways). The Giants are tied for fourth at plus-9 (26 takeaways, 17 giveaways).
- Minnesota is 24th in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 19 of 37 possessions (51.4 percent). New York is 29th at 45.8 percent (22 touchdowns on 48 possessions).
- The Vikings are fourth in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on just 18 of 38 opponent possessions (47.4 percent). The Giants are ninth at 52.3 percent (23 touchdowns on 44 possessions).
- Minnesota is 16th in third-down offense, converting on 68 of 172 opportunities (39.5 percent). The Giants are 18th at 38.7 percent (74 of 191). The league average is 38.9 percent.
- Defensively, the Vikings are 14th on third down, allowing conversions on 68 of 180 opportunities (37.8 percent). The Giants are dead last at 45.8 percent (92 of 201).
- Minnesota is first in average starting position following kickoffs at the 25.0-yard line, well above the league average of the 21.6-yard line and 1.5 yards better than second-place Green Bay. New York is fifth with an average starting position of the 23.0-yard line.
- Eli Manning has five 300-yard passing games. Teddy Bridgewater has two.
- New York has allowed six 300-yard passing games. Minnesota has allowed just two.
- The Giants have nine 100-yard receiving games – eight from suspended wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and one from Rueben Randle. The Vikings have three – two from Stefon Diggs and one from Kyle Rudolph.
- The Vikings have allowed three 100-yard receiving games. The Giants defense has allowed nine.
- Adrian Peterson has six 100-yard rushing games. Rashad Jennings got the first 100-yard rushing game for the Giants last week.
- The Vikings have allowed five 100-yard rushers. The Giants have allowed three.
- Manning is fifth in the league is pass attempts (546), fifth in completions (348), 14th in completion percentage (63.7), sixth in pass yards (3,900), tied for third in touchdown passes (32), tied for 20th in interceptions (11) and 11th in passer rating (96.1).
- Bridgewater is 21st in attempts (403), 20th in completions (267), sixth in completion percentage (66.3), 22nd in yards (2,964), 27th in TD passes (13), tied for 14th in interceptions (8) and 20th in passer rating (90.4).
- Manning is sixth in fourth-quarter passer rating at 106.0. Bridgewater is 21st at 89.7.
- Bridgewater is seventh in third-down passer rating at 104.1. Manning is 15th with a rating of 90.7.
- Peterson leads the NFL with 1,315 rushing yards, nine more than Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin. Jennings leads the Giants with 639 yards, which ranks him 25th in the league.
- Beckham is currently eighth in the league in receptions with 91. Diggs and Rudolph are tied for the Vikings team lead with 47 receptions, which ties them for 63rd place.
- Beckham is third in receiving yards with 1,396. Diggs leads the Vikings with 693 yards, which ranks him 45th.
- Beckham is tied for first in scoring among non-kickers with 78 points (13 touchdowns). Peterson is tied for 15th with 54 points (nine touchdowns).
- New York’s Josh Brown is fifth among kickers in scoring with 117 points. Blair Walsh is tied for eighth with 109 points.
- Peterson is third in total yards from scrimmage with 1,520 (1,314 rushing, 206 receiving). Beckham is sixth with 1,399 yards (1,396 receiving, three rushing).
- Giants punter Brad Wing is 20th in punting average at 45.3 yards. Jeff Locke is dead last at 41.9 yards.
- Wing is 22nd in net punt average at 39.0 yards. Locke is 28th at 38.0 yards.
- Cordarrelle Patterson leads the NFL in kickoff return average at 31.1 yards. Dwayne Harris of the Giants is fifth at 27.2 yards. Only 15 teams have a player with enough kick returns to qualify for the league lead.
- Marcus Sherels is ninth in the league in punt return average at 9.6 yards. Harris is seventh with an average of 10.3 yards.
- Terence Newman of the Vikings and New York’s Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Trumaine McBride are all tied for 18th place in the league in interceptions with three.
- Everson Griffen is tied for 14th place in sacks with 8.5. Robert Ayers leads the Giants with 6.5 sacks, which ties him for 30th place.