We all have heard the phrase, "Make big plays and don\'t turn the ball over." It sounds cliché, but former Ravens head coach and NFL Network analyst Brian Billick has a stat for it. It is called, "toxic differential." It has been around and discussed several times. It is it\'s a risk-reward stat and it is made up of two parts. The first part is how many big plays/explosive gains (20-plus yards) teams make minus how many they allow defensively. It also is made up of the basic takeaways versus giveaways stat. In short you take the big play differential and then add the takeaway differential and you get the toxic differential stat. NFL Network analysts Jim Mora Jr. states "Teams that win the explosive-gains differential win 65 percent of their games and teams that have accomplished both a positive turnover and explosive gains differential win over 92 percent of their games."
I wanted to compare this to Super Bowl games so I dug up all of the stats. I believe these to be accurate, but do let me know if you see any discrepancies or errors. Only 17 times in 44 Super Bowls has a team swept and won both the big play differential and the takeaway differential and all 17 times that team won the Super Bowl. Another stat fact is that only 5 times has the team that won the Super Bowl had a negative toxic number. The last team to accomplish that was the Steelers in Super Bowl XL over the Seahawks. There have been 8 games in which teams battled to a zero push toxic number and in those 8 games; 6 times the winner of the game also won the takeaway differential.
We talked about big plays during the season of both the Steelers and Packers here last week, but 14 times a team has lost the big play differential in the Super Bowl and yet went on to win the game. The record of the winning team in the big play differential stat when there was not a push through 44 Super Bowls is 23-14 (62%), almost to the 65% Mora stated. When a team has been +2 or more though in the big play/explosive gains stat the record in Super Bowls is 15-4 (79%). Meanwhile the record of the winning team in the takeaway differential stat is 31-3 (91%). Finally the record of the winning team in the toxic differential stat is 31-5 (86%).
To wrap this up, the toxic differential stat certainly holds water in Super Bowl history especially if a team sweeps both the big plays/explosive gains and takeaway differential, however if you can only win one, it is advisable to win the takeaway battle.
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