Another year, another set of predictions
One of the better NFL data points for correlating overall success is turnover differential. Longtime readers know where this is going right from the headline. Welcome to my annual attempt to predict next season’s turnover numbers for the Buffalo Bills. Here’s a link to last year’s edition, which includes links that cover the body of work for any curious readers. Definitely click through for methodology, as I’m cutting most of that out this season to give a more sleek article. The short version is that I consider a lot of factors to make an educated guess. So let’s do it!
One thing to note this season. The charts are on sliders so I can give an adjusted version 2021. The adjusted chart shows 2021 data for a 16-game season. On a related note, my predictions for last season were based off of the 17-game season, so for purposes of seeing how my predictions did, we use the non-adjusted numbers.
Last year I predicted this:
So, my best guess is in the neighborhood of 24 takeaways next year.
This guess was based off of the idea that the Bills have consistently been better than league average under head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier, but that elite levels have largely escaped them. I bet on regression toward the mean like we saw in 2019, but still a bit above the mean. Also like 2019. I think this is the worst prediction I’ve made since I started doing this as Buffalo ended with 30.
I’m happy to be this type of wrong.
Per-game turnover rates were stable between 2020 and 2021, but the trend since 2008 has been one of a slow drop. The 17-game season had an average of 22.1 takeaways/giveaways per team and my expectation would be something in the 21-22 range.
The coaches remain stable so don’t expect a major drop-off. Personnel changes are another story. Von Miller should give a higher ceiling to the D-line, but the loss of steady, effective veterans in Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison make it hard for me to just come out and say they’ll be significantly better. I think the line will be improved, but how much and how quickly are a bit of a question mark. And since I promised a more sleek article this year, I won’t even get started with the interior.
Similarly, will Tre’Davious White be ready to go? How will the loss of Levi Wallace impact the team? How quickly will Kaiir Elam adapt, and what’s his ceiling look like? Overall, I think the defense will need some time to become what they can be, but the defensive coaches have proven themselves time and time again. Soo…
My prediction is 27 takeaways for the 2022 Buffalo Bills. A good chunk above the expected league average, but nothing in the years of research I’ve put into this suggests it’s wise to predict two elite seasons in a row. Hope I’m wrong.
Last season I predicted the following:
So to summarize, I’d expect they stay in the low 20s, with very little change from Josh Allen. Let’s be clear though. This is not something fans should be concerned with. Allen’s turnover rates are fine.
At 22 giveaways, I think I did very well with my guess of low 20s. Let’s check in on my Allen specific predictions though.
Little change from Allen was benchmarked in last season’s edition as ten interceptions and six fumbles lost. The attention on giveaways every year is the QB, as they make up the bulk of them. How did this do?
Allen had 15 interceptions and three fumbles lost. HIs total numbers were pretty steady—remarkably so, adjusting for that extra game. The numbers pulled harder toward interceptions though, so I’ll only give myself SOME credit for this one.
Last year’s team adjusted well with some changes before and during the season to remain a potent offense with league-average turnovers. This year the changes will be a little more significant. The loss of Brian Daboll perhaps being the largest of them all. Allen loses a fantastic safety blanket in Cole Beasley as well.
I don’t think a slight uptick is unreasonable, and I’ll pinpoint my prediction this season with a very slight one. The 2022 Buffalo Bills will turn the ball over 23 times.
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