This is my first fanpost so please bear with me.
In the NFL you can dig up stats anything from total yards to Jamal Charles yards per carry when the team is down by 15+ between their own 1 and 20 yard line on turf...in the second half (8.6 average per touch by the way). Often the NFL pundits put emphasis on the "big stats" like passing/rushing yards per game or passing/rushing defense, but we all know they don't know much.
The "big stat" today seems to be passing yards. It's a passing league and we have to pass the ball to win the championship. While I won't argue that passing has become more important in the NFL than ever before, there are other stats that trump it. Tom Brady led the league in passing yards with 4,110 in 2005, his team went 10-6. Peyton manning led the league in 2003 and threw for 4,267 yards, his team went 12-4. Dante Culpepper led the NFL in 2004 with 4,717 passing yards his team went 8-8. All of these teams made the playoffs...but lost games because of the result of one stat, the most important stat in the NFL. Turnover differntial.
By now I hope you know where I'm going. The Chiefs currently have the worst turnover differential in the NFL at -15. By the way the record was set in 1948 and matched in 1965 at -30 for one season. The Chiefs are 4 games in and currently on pass for a -60 turnover differential. This pace won't continue, it CAN'T continue, but even if it slows down significantly they have a great chance at setting the new mark.
ESPN reporter and former Philadelphia Inquirer scribe Ashley Fox published a telling piece about turnover margin: "Since 2000, teams that have been plus-1 [or better] in turnover margin have won 92 of 128 postseason games (a winning percentage of .719). Teams that have lost the turnover battle have won just 14.8 percent of the time." To take this a step further after some digging I found teams who had turned the ball over 3 or more times in a game. Out 103 games only 17 teams were able to win. An outstanding .159 winning percentage. Oh yeah the Chiefs have turned the ball over 3 times or more in every game so far this season. Going even further, in 8 of those 17 wins the team that lost also had 3 or more turnovers. In 2011 teams that had a positive turnover differential in the game won at a .785 clip (157-200).
BEST & WORST TURNOVER DIFFERENTIALS BY SEASON (2002-2011)
(SU is actual record ATS is record winning or losing turnover battle)
Interesting to say the least, but not all that surprising. Turnovers aren't just momentum changes, they are literally game changers. Now look at the teams we know to have been perennial super bowl contenders in the past: Green Bay, New England, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, San Diego and a the teams who have been at the bottom of the heap: Arizona, Washington, and Oakland just to name a few. Take a look at the table below which outlines teams TO differential since 2002.
http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/How-turnover-differentials-can-predict-the-future.html (Check out the site for more information on how TO's can be predictive of future success)
Unfortunately you can the Chiefs routinely fall in the middle of the league..kind of like their record at the end of most seasons. If you really want to stat crunch or predict who is going to win, go with the stat that is better than 75% accurate.
So what is it with the Chiefs this year?? An inability to hold on to the ball or an inability to get the turnover. Unfortunately to this point in the season, it's both. The Chiefs offense is 3rd in the NFL for total yards. The defense is 11th and steadily climbing from a disastrous first two weeks. Statistically speaking (at leas in terms of offensive and defensive yards) the Chiefs should be a top 10 team in the league...easy. Unfortunately that is all negated with the glaring -15 turnover differential.
If there is hope to the season it's the fact that the offense CAN move the ball and defense CAN stop the opposing team. Stop the turnovers win the games. So until the next game let's just make sure everything is secure.