Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 11/18/14

The turnover battle is an underrated aspect of football games, but those who watched the Divisional Round of the playoffs saw its importance. The Packers and Saints, two teams expected to advance to the NFC Championship Game, were killed by turnovers and ended up losing their games. In the AFC playoffs, the Texans got crushed on the turnover front and also lost.

Ready for a stat that will blow your mind? The four teams that won in the Divisional Round combined for 4 turnovers. The four losing teams combined for 14. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Packers 4 (1 INT, 3 FUM); Giants 1 (INT) – Packers lost 37-20
  • Texans 4 (3 INT, 1 FUM); Ravens 0 – Texans lost 20-13
  • Saints 5 (2 INT, 3 FUM); 49ers 1 (FUM) – Saints lost 36-32
  • Patriots 2 (1 INT, 1 FUM); Broncos 1 (FUM) – Pats won 45-10

The only team that lost the turnover battle and won was New England. They only lost the battle by 1, and they had a huge advantage over the Broncos everywhere else. All the other teams lost the battle by at least 3 and that’s why they lost. Teams like the Saints and the Packers might be able to overcome four and five turnover games in the regular season against scrubs like the Bucs or Vikings, but you can’t do that in the playoffs against a top level opponent.

That the Saints still almost pulled out a win despite their five turnovers shows you how incredible their offense is. That the Texans nearly managed a win despite four turnovers shows you how good their defense was. But the bottom line is you cannot turn the ball over more than twice in a game and expect to win in the playoffs.

As soon as your team begins coughing up the ball, you know your days are nearly numbered. You can point to many reasons why the teams lost, but the biggest reason the Saints and Packers lost is because they turned the ball over. Their teams weren’t flawed; they lost on fluke-type plays.

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

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