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Falcons vs. Panthers 2014: Turnovers Are The Key Once More For Atlanta

The Falcons have shown that when they get turnovers, they win games. They'll need more against Carolina.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons have done a curious thing in 2014, becoming more reliant on turnovers than ever before. Simply put, when they manage to intercept the ball and force fumbles, they tend to win games.

That's nothing unusual for an NFL team, of course, but the Falcons have taken their reliance to new heights. They have not won a game thus far in 2014 in which they've lost the turnover battle, which speaks volumes about the way mistakes have doomed the offense and a lack of turnovers has exposed the defense's real weaknesses in pass rushing (though not against the Saints!) and run stopping through much of the season. The continued success with winning the turnover battle suggests this team has found its strength, however. They boast a +8 turnover ratio, which ties them for 6th in the NFL in that statistic, and their 16 interceptions rank 10th in the NFL.

You can beat the Panthers myriad ways—they're a team with some dangerous weapons on both sides of the ball, but real limitations—but getting a couple of turnovers and capitalizing on them early would likely be enough. The Falcons have had a knack for making those kinds of plays happen—especially Kemal Ishmael—though turnovers do involve a fair bit of luck when all is said and done. That doesn't make them any less critical.

Cam Newton hasn't been a turnover machine, but he has thrown 12 picks and fumbled the ball nine times, losing five of those. If the Falcons can force him into a couple of mistakes and play an otherwise quality football game, there's little question in my mind that they'll win this one.

How many turnovers do you anticipate, if any?