As I’ve noted in previous years, if you’re looking for a single stat aside from “wins” to correlate with success, “turnover differential” is usually a pretty darn good one. Don’t believe me? Stay tuned. Welcome to the 2023 turnover prediction article! Let’s make some educated guesses on giveaways and takeaways for the Buffalo Bills’ upcoming season. All without seeing them play a single down yet this year.
Here’s a link to last year's predictions, which in turn has links to other past years. If you want the deep dive, click the link to get to the other links. Here’s the very short version. Turnovers can be volatile but, like all aspects of the game, there is information that can give us an idea of where to start on guessing. Players and coaches can have an impact. League trends matter. I scan these factors and take a guess. Sometimes I’m even right!
The first big factor is the departure of defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier. I know many might contest this, but I maintain that Frazier is a hell of a defensive coach. That said, I believe head coach Sean McDermott is too. How much different will the defense look? It’s hard to tell. The Bills have changed up their defense every year under Frazier and McDermott (and I’m tempted to write an entire article on that topic). It’s hard to call this anything other than a push.
On the player side, edge rusher Von Miller will likely miss significant time this year. Just like last year. Cornerback Tre’Davious White should be healthier. Edge rusher Leonard Floyd and defensive tackle Poona Ford are two names on the line I’m excited to see with the Bills. Cornerbacks Kaiir Elam, Christian Benford, and defensive end Greg Rousseau are all players that might be better with another year under their belts. The loss of linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is significant.
When it comes to league and team trends, I have a chart!
I may not need all this data, but what the heck. It’s fun to relive a couple Dick Jauron years right? The Bills, like most teams, are historically volatile when it comes to turnovers. If you peep the McDermott-era Bills they demonstrate volatility as well. But instead of wavering from bad to good, they waver from average to elite. And average is the rarer event. It’s becoming harder and harder to bet against McDermott’s teams.
For the league trends, they’ve been slowly declining in my tracking period. Last season was a slight uptick from 2021, however. I suspect 2023 will look very similar to 2022.
Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey is here for year two. As you’ll see on the graphic in just a minute, his first year was one of the worst for Buffalo when it came to giveaways. That said, players are critical and for giveaways it’s incredibly skewed toward one player in particular. Love him or hate him (you should love him), quarterback Josh Allen is the single biggest factor here. While player additions like tight end Dalton Kincaid could help, team trends are in large part Josh Allen trends. So let’s check the chart.
So the Bills have been all over the map haven’t they? In the McDermott era there’s a noticeable spike to 32, which happens to be Josh Allen’s rookie year. The 2022 season was the second-highest total for Buffalo, and also the only other year for McDermott’s teams in which there’s a significantly higher-than-average giveaway rate.
A betting man (or one making predictions) might be wise to call 2022 an anomaly.
Before we get to the official 2023 predictions, there’s one more thing to note. Due to reasons I don’t need to mention, the Buffalo Bills played 16 games last season rather than the scheduled 17. I don’t want to make my guesses for a 17-game season based on a 16-game one.
Luckily for us, the giveaways and takeaways from 2022 were the same total at 27 each. For a 17-game season that would have extrapolated to 28.9 for both. Since this is hypothetical, I decided to keep the decimal. NOW we can make predictions.
Given how banged up the defense was last season with major losses and lingering injuries, I’m predicting regression to the mean, aka “less injuries.” The loss of Tremaine Edmunds is significant as noted, but in totality I believe the Bills’ defense should be better off personnel-wise this season. I can show data that proves how much the defense changes year to year, but for now all I’ll say is I expect a more blitz-heavy concept.
I’m adding a bit of gut reaction to this too. I’m going to keep betting on McDermott and guess the team will match their 2022 season (extrapolated). I might regret this after the season, but I’m optimistically guessing 29 Takeaways.
The team goes as Allen does. With five seasons under his belt, it’s fair to say we know who Allen is. I think he’ll always fluctuate near a 2% interception rate and around ten fumbles per season. Last year was a bad one for fumbles. I’m betting Kincaid, an improved offensive line, and, yes, more regression to the mean should be good for a few less turnovers.
And I do mean a few. The official prediction is 24 Giveaways.