The Buffalo Bills lost to the New York Jets on Thursday, 34-21, and in the process lost the turnover battle 3-0. This was the first time the Bills had lost the turnover battle all season, which ESPN’s Mike Sando pointed out, as well as the fact that the Seattle Seahawks are the last remaining team to not do that.
So far, the 5-2 Seahawks have won the turnover battle three times (3-0) and tied the turnover battle four times (2-2). Overall, they are fourth in turnovers on offense and fifth in takeaways on defense.
The turnover battle is one of the most important factors in any game. Surely there are exceptions that prove the rule — many of them — but time and time again the team that protects the football the best is usually the team that wins. Russell Wilson has thrown four interceptions this season, including a crucial pick last week against the Houston Texans, but Seattle was able to intercept Deshaun Watson three times.
Last season, the Seahawks finished just 22nd in takeaways, including 21st in interceptions. In 2015, they were 16th in takeaways. In 2014, the last time they went to the Super Bowl, they were 20th, but that was also the last time the defense was truly dominant: 1st in DVOA, 1st in points allowed, 1st in yards allowed, 3rd in net yards/pass attempt allowed, 2nd in yards per carry allowed. You don’t need to force as many turnovers if you’re basically forcing a 3-and-out every time.
But when everything comes together ... In 2013, the Seahawks were 1st in takeaways, as well as being 1st in DVOA, points, yards, net yards/pass attempt, and seventh in yards per carry allowed.
That’s the Seattle Seahawks at their best. Can they be that good again as soon as this season? That remains to be seen, but they’re off to an encouraging start as far as turnovers go.