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Data Crunch: Turnovers & Wins

Posted Dec 5, 2013

In the eight of our weekly ventures into data visualization, we look at the well-established connection between turnover ratio and victory, and how the Bucs' 2013 season doesn't fit the pattern

Every week, we football fans consume the NFL through live game action, replays and highlight shows.  And then we consume it again through the numbers.  Whether it's via fantasy football, statistical analysis or simply the league standings, numbers help us understand and digest the game we love.

This season, Buccaneers.com wants to help you see what the numbers are saying.

Welcome back to Data Crunch, our weekly foray into data visualization that will help tell the story of Tampa Bay Buccaneers football and the 2013 NFL season as a whole.  Here, we will not only dive deep into the statistics generated each week by the Buccaneers but we'll present it to you in graphical form to better convey what the numbers are telling us.  These interactive graphs allow the user to identify trends, gaining a better understanding of how wins and losses are generated and where the team and individual players are headed.

Our ninth data visualization exercise of the season focuses on what may be the most unusual combination of statistics the Buccaneers have produced this season.  While Tampa Bay has been one of the five best teams at forcing turnovers on defense and avoiding them on offense in 2013, they have not seen that ability translate into victories as frequently as it usually does.

In fact, if the Buccaneers maintain or improve their 10 turnover ratio over the final four games of the season, they will go down as a significant outlier in the historic connection between turnovers and wins and losses, at least in the last three-plus decades.  Below, the outlier status of the 2013 Bucs is made clear in graphic form.  We've charted every team in every season since 1980, and the resulting histogram is exactly what any NFL coach would expect it to be.  The data points cluster in a diagonal pattern from the lower left, where bad turnover ratios connect with poor winning percentages, to the upper right, where good turnover ratios connect with much better winning percentages.

As such, it is the teams in the upper left (good winning percentages despite poor turnover ratios) and lower right (bad winning percentages despite good turnover ratios) that are the rarities.  The Buccaneers are part of the latter group.

To see more details on the connections between certain levels of turnover ratio and winning percentage, hover over the dots in any part of the histogram.  To see more details on the teams represented in the histogram, use the "Teams" button to switch to the second chart and then hover over any particular dot.