Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Joe Smith and Greg Auman

Bucs bucking trend with takeaways, losses

Bucs safety Keith Tandy (37) celebrates an interception of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton with cornerback Leonard Johnson (29).

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Bucs safety Keith Tandy (37) celebrates an interception of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton with cornerback Leonard Johnson (29).

6

December

You hear it from coaches all the time: Among the statistics most closely linked to winning and losing is turnover margin. Win the turnover battle, more often than not, you're in position to win a football game.

This year's Bucs are an odd exception to that wisdom -- Tampa Bay is at plus-10 in turnover margin after 12 games, yet finds itself 3-9 in the standings, showing little parallel between turnovers and the scoreboard.

How rare is that? To find the last time an NFL team finished plus-10 in turnover margin and simply had a losing record -- let alone 3-9 -- you have to go back to the 2004 Panthers, who finished 7-9 with a NFC-best plus-12 turnover margin. From 2005-12, the NFL had 37 teams finish plus-10 or better and every single one had at least eight wins -- to be specific, only the 2006 Rams had eight wins and the rest had at least nine. Those 37 teams won an average of 11.8 games in the regular season.

This year's plus-10 teams include three teams in position to make the playoffs -- Seattle (11-1), Carolina (9-3) and Dallas (7-5) ... and the Bucs (3-9). 

Much the same way, the Bucs are leading the NFL with 17 interceptions, a statistic that usually bodes well for a team's win-loss record. From 2005-12, in all eight seasons, the team that led the NFL in interceptions won at least 10 games -- last year's Chicago Bears, at 10-6, were the only one among those eight that didn't win at least 11. Again, the team that ends the streak is the 2004 Panthers, who opened the year 1-7 before rallying for a 6-2 finish, including two wins against the Bucs. From 2003-12, the 10 teams that led the NFL in interceptions averaged 11.7 wins.

[Last modified: Friday, December 6, 2013 3:00pm]

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