Noob Question: Are turnovers really a matter of luck?

HI. I usually post on goldenstateofmind, just recently joined this cool site. :)

So all the experts say that last year we were very lucky to have the turnover differential so heavily in our favor. And that there is no way we can expect to maintain such a weighted turnover ratio this year, and this year we will regress to the mean.

Well I had a few questions regarding this seemingly sensible truism: are turnovers really a matter of luck? Or perhaps this question is more pertinent if I re-word it like this: are all turnovers equal?

See the thing I'm thinking is that the of the two main types of turnovers -- interceptions and fumbles -- that interceptions have a much higher chance of occurring than fumbles. (Btw, I have no stats to back myself up, I'm using "common sense".) But if this is true, wouldn't winning the turnover battle come down simply to reducing the number of passes you attempt and increasing the number of passes the opposing team has to attempt?

How would you go about doing this? Well, I'm no expert on football strategy but I suspect it would look a lot like our niners do now in terms of strategic makeup:

  1. Possess a highly effective running game and chew up a lot of clock
  2. Employ a defense that strongly discourages being run against
  3. Consistently play with a lead, no matter how small, by valuing field position and the safe field goal.

Points 1 and 3 allow a team to play with a lead more often than not, thereby not having to play catch up and abandon the run. Since running the ball has zero chance of interceptions, this allows a team to have a higher chance of not turning the ball over. Points 2 and 3 force the opponent to pass a lot and abandon their run. Since passing a lot increases the risk of interceptions, this puts the opposing team at higher risk of turning the ball over.

In summary:

  • All turnovers are not created equal
  • interceptions are more likely to arise than fumbles
  • passing the ball a lot leads to a higher chance of interceptions
  • by deliberately creating scenarios where the opposing team has to pass more than you, you can increase the chances of the opposing team turning the ball over while reducing the turnovers you give up.
  • Thus, winning the turnover battle is not really all about luck, but can occur by design.

Thoughts? If this is already common knowledge im sorry

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