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Rams are turning the ball over, winning anyway

What recent history has told us about teams who find ways to win, even when they lose the ball

Los Angeles Rams v Washington Football Team Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The LA Rams are 4-1 this season despite the fact that they have turned the ball over in all five games. They are one of five teams to do that, including the 3-2 Cardinals, the 1-3-1 Eagles, the 1-4 Texans and the 0-5 Giants. The Rams have done the best job at atoning for their mistakes and it says something about their discipline in other areas — as well as their quality of opponent — that they’ve opened 4-1 despite winning the turnover battle once all season.

The Seahawks are 4-0 when they turn the ball over, the Steelers and Bills are 3-0 in those situations and the Ravens, Bears are 3-1.

Teams are bound to make mistakes or to have an opposing defense create a takeaway but it’s been the good ones who can instantly erase it from their collective memories and move onto the next play. This has also been an indicator of good teams in the past.

In the previous decade, there were 17 instances of a team starting 4-1 or 5-0 despite turning the ball over in each win. The only team to go 5-0 with a turnover in each game was the 2015 Denver Broncos, the eventual Super Bowl champions of that season. Another Super Bowl winner on the list is the 2013 Seahawks. That leaves 15 other teams that won at least 4 of their first 5 games of a season with a turnover in each victory.

The 2015 Carolina Panthers, the team that lost to the Broncos in the Super Bowl, is in there. Speaking of Super Bowl losers, the 2019 San Francisco 49ers are on the list. So are the 2013 Broncos and the 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers. That leaves 11 teams.

The New Orleans Saints did it in both 2011 and 2013. The Saints went to the divisional round of the playoffs in each of those seasons. They did it again 2019, losing in the wild card round. The Green Bay Packers did it in 2011, the season they went 15-1. When they lost to the Giants in the wild card round, the Packers turned it over four times, twice as many as any of their regular season games. That leaves seven teams.

The Patriots also did it in 2019 and they lost in the wild card round. So did the 2010 Falcons that went 13-3 and the 2011 Lions that made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. The only teams to not make the playoffs on the list are the 2012 Bears, the 2014 Eagles, the 2015 Jets (all went 10-6), plus the only losing team on the sheet: the 2011 Buffalo Bills, who started 5-2 and then lost eight of their last nine games.

The Bills turned the ball over nine times in their first seven games, then 21 times in the next nine.

All signs in Los Angeles point to a Rams team that not only mitigates their mistakes (despite the consistency of turnovers, LA is average in amount of total giveaways) but is able to overcome those same errors. Even without forcing many turnovers on defense (they also are right in the middle of the league at takeaways), the Rams are efficiently beating most of their opponents and rank third in points allowed and first in net yards per pass attempt allowed.

If recent history is an example of what’s next, the Rams will at least get their shot to prove themselves in the postseason, an opportunity they won’t want to give away.