Through 15 NFL weeks, the turnover stat is as telling as any. The league-leading Houston Texans and Washington Redskins (Both with only 13 giveaways) are both atop their respected divisions. Many have asked how the Redksins have been so successful with a rookie quarterback, rookie running back and season-ending injuries to both Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo early on this season. The answer lies within a mere 13 turnovers to 26 defensive takeaways. If both of these teams remain atop the turnover differential category, they will be menaces come playoff time.
Oddly enough, the 8-6 Chicago Bears are still atop the differential total in the NFC. Only behind are the New England Patriots and Texans, both with a +14 turnover ratio. However, the turnovers tell the story for this club as well. Over a record of 6-1 within the first two months, the Bears created a league high 24 turnovers. Since the month of November began the Bears have created just 14, and are 2-5. The turnover ratio has told the tale yet again in Chicago.
Furthermore, this is why the Colin Kaepernick decision by the San Francisco 49ers was so puzzling. Seven-year veteran and opening day starter Alex Smith had a league-leading 1.1 Pass Attempt to Interception ratio in 2011 – a season in which the 49ers were a play away from reaching the Super Bowl. Time will tell if the turn away from Smith will help or hurt the 49ers.
With the NFL being a week-to-week business, it is often hard to gauge who will have the greatest success. However, the turnover battle is a key indicator in which teams will be formidable come playoff time. If teams like Washington, New England and Houston continue to force turnovers then the sky is the limit.