Week in and week out, turnovers are perhaps the most telling statistic in the NFL. And it makes sense – NFL teams average about 12 possessions per game, which means a turnover costs you 8% of the game and gives your opponent another 8% of the game to score.
So far in 2009, the Carolina Panthers are well aware of the importance of turnovers. They lead the league in turnovers with 31.
Turnovers are exactly what Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress referenced when he was asked on Wednesday about the Panthers fall from grace in 2009. It was just a season ago in 2008 that Carolina won the NFC South with a 12-4 regular season record. Heading into this Sunday night’s game with the Vikings, Carolina sits at 5-8 with no chance of making it back to the postseason.
“It comes back to the high turnover games,” Childress said. “I’ve seen them be productive in almost every game that they’ve played in. Obviously they had success down there two or three weeks ago against Arizona. Arizona turned it over, they didn’t turn it over and they had the wherewithal to go on the road and beat somebody. But I would tell you that it usually comes down to that (turnovers) and giving people the ball at inopportune times.”
The statistics support Childress’ assertion. Of the Panthers 31 turnovers, 24 of them have come in losses. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Carolina yields the 2nd-highest percentage of points allowed on giveaways at 35.8%.
Taking advantage of the turnover game is one way for the Vikings to come away from Charlotte on Sunday night with an important late-season win. The Vikings are +7 in turnover margin and they score points 66% of the time after forcing a turnover. If Childress’ club can continue those trends, life on the road this weekend will be more enjoyable than their last road game – a 30-17 loss at Arizona.
Another important factor for the Vikings this Sunday night will be their mindset heading into the game. After the Arizona loss, Childress took some blame for not having his players ready to play. By the sounds of it this week, Vikings players will be focused and won’t be overlooking a 5-8 team that’s down on its luck.
“We all know they’re talented and they have a good defense, good offense,” LB Chad Greenway said Wednesday. “But for some reason it’s not coming together. You just have to keep battling every week and at any point, people can beat you. You have to continue to play well. It’s a tough situation they’re in, but we know they’re good.”
Tags: Chad Greenway
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