Patriots defense lives or dies by turnovers

Though there is always a correlation between forcing turnovers and winning football games, the Patriots defense of the past two-plus seasons is an extreme example.

Since 2010 the Patriots are 32-9, including playoffs. Over that stretch the defense forces an average of 2.69 turnovers in their wins, and just .92 turnovers in their defeats.

Only twice over that time period did the Pats win a game where they didn’t get a turnover, against the Ravens in 2010 and the Jets in 2011. And of the other 30 wins there were just 8 times where they only forced a single turnover.

That means in 69% of the Patriots wins since 2010 they’ve forced multiple turnovers.

Of their 9 losses they failed to force a single turnover in 3 of them, which includes both the AFCDG loss to the Jets in 2010 and the Super Bowl loss to the Giants in 2011. Clearly the defense picked the wrong time to suddenly stop their ball hawking ways.

Just twice have they forced 2 turnovers and still lost, against Buffalo in 2011 and the Cardinals this year. Both of those games came down to a field goal kick as time expired to determine the Pats fate.

The Pats defensive formula for success is pretty simple. They’re going to give up yards, and especially long passes, but if they can just force 2 turnovers they’re probably going to win. They’re 22-2 when they get 2 turnovers or more.

So if opposing offenses can just keep the ball safe they’ll give their team a chance to win, regardless of how unstoppable the Pats offense can be at times.

Somehow the Pats defense needs to find a way to become less dependent on getting turnovers, because most of the time they require mistakes by the offense. Punts are something the defense should be able to do on their own simply by executing. Unfortunately that’s easier said than done.

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