The New England Patriots won the turnover battle against the New Orleans Saints with an impressive +4 on the evening. The Patriots grabbed two interceptions, while conceding none, and recovered two fumbles. The Saints put two other fumbles on the ground, but recovered them.
The Patriots defense converted two of those turnovers into immediate points on a pick-six by linebacker Jamie Collins and a fumble return by edge defender Trey Flowers. New England can’t expect 14 “bonus points,” as head coach Bill Belichick called them, every week, but the offense needed all the help it could get.
“Anytime we don't turn the ball over that's a good thing,” Belichick said after the game. “Defensively, we got the turnovers. We got the two touchdowns so that's kind of 14 bonus points. It's hard to count on that in a game. In the end that really ended up being the difference in the final score.”
Over the past decade, teams have won 78.9% of the time when they win the turnover battle. The New England Patriots are a league-leading 87-6, or 93.5%, when they hold the edge.
The Patriots are 50-0 over the past decade when they have the margin by 2+. A margin of four turnovers is outstanding and has led to a winning rate of 96.3% over the past decade.
Teams win 75.0% of the time when they have a defensive score, which is almost as good as winning the turnover margin.
Jimmy Garoppolo did a good job of protecting the football over the first half and his production will obviously improve when Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Dion Lewis join the rotation. The fact that the Patriots protected the football and remained competitive is a good sign moving forward.
The Patriots are going to need to win the turnover battles over the first four weeks if they expect to win any of these games. The Patriots have a 52.8% winning rate when they lose the turnover battle, but they are the only team to win more than a third of their games over the past decade.
I consider that to be the Tom Brady factor and would expect Garoppolo’s odds of winning to be more in line with the league average of 21.1%.