No team controlled the turnover battle better than the Green Bay Packers in 2014. Turnover differential is a prized statistic in the NFL due to its correlation with winning, and the team's +14 ratio was good for the best in the NFL, beating out top seeds New England and Seattle.
A big reason for that was Aaron Rodgers' five interceptions on the year on his way to 38 TDs. It took Andrew Luck 11 more interceptions to slightly edge Rodgers in TDs with 40.
Casey Hayward and Tramon Williams led the way on defense with three INTs each, while Micah Hyde and Sam Shields both contributed two. What made Hayward's performance so special was his ability to break his returns for long gains, including an 82-yarder for a TD.
Of course, you can't talk about the turnovers in relation to the 2014 Packers without mentioning Julius Peppers, who defended 13 passes with two INTs (both pick-sixes) while compiling over 100 return yards on the year. Proving his flexibility in the 3-4 OLB spot, the 34-year-old Peppers also forced four fumbles and recovered three on his way to a redemptive season.
Cowboys no slouch
The visiting Cowboys are also in the black when it comes to turnovers with a +6 differential. That ties them with Cleveland for 9th best in the NFL. Dallas actually took the ball away more than the Packers did by recovering four more fumbles, ending the year with 31 takeaways, 18 INTs and 13 fumbles. Players to watch on Dallas' defense include LB Bruce Carter with 5 INTs and CB Orlando Scandrick with 2 INTs and 2 fumble recoveries.
Dallas QBs threw 11 total interceptions on the year - 9 by Tony Romo and two by Brandon Weeden. In seasons in which Romo has played in 15 games or more, the 34-year-old QB has thrown for 9 INTs (twice), 10 INTs (twice), 13, 14 and 19 (twice), so the Packers will need to prepare for "Good Romo" come Sunday.
Neither team turns the ball over much in the running game. DeMarco Murray has ran the ball an astounding 392 times this year with 3 fumbles (all lost). Eddie Lacy took the rock 284 times and also fumbled three times, but lost just one.
In the NFL playoffs since 2000, teams that win the turnover battle have almost a 70% shot at winning the game. In 2011, the Packers lost to the Giants in large part due to turning the ball over four times. In 2012, Jeremy Ross lost a fumble against the 49ers and swung the direction of that game. In 2014, the only caveat when it comes to the Packers winning the turnover battle has been tipped passes, both by the defense and the intended receivers. That must be made a priority this week in practice, especially with the emergence of young Eddie Lacy and Davante Adams in the passing game.
Editor's note: Please welcome Will Hayes (formerly known here as WhitefishBay) to the front page here at Acme Packing Company. You've likely seen many of his works in the FanPost section in recent weeks, and we are happy