I remember seeing a stat in an article a few years ago that showed winning percentage in a game based on turnover margin.
+1 gave you a 65% chance of winning
+2 gives you 80%
+3 or more was something absurd like 93%
I'd love to see someone do the research and find those stats again.
So with that being said, The Lions are a very healthy +9 through 4 games. I looked at NFL.Com in the sortable stats section for turnover margin (it hasn't been updated with today's action yet). You can see pretty easily exactly how much TO margin means - the top 6 teams in TO margin (Giants, Jets, Seahawks, Falcons, Cardinals, Lions) have a combined record before today of 16-5 and the bottom 6 teams (Dolphins, 49ers, Raiders, Redskins, Panthers, Rams) have a combined W-L of 6-17. NFL.Com Sortable Stats
I remember that the last season we sniffed the playoffs - 2000 - We were something like +19 in TO margin. The next season as we went 2-14, we were something like -27. It's pretty apparent to me that the best way to give your team a chance to win in the NFL is simply to not make as many mistakes as your opponent...
turnover differential is not an underated stat, it's the most telling number there is and your stats backed it up
I agree with you, but maybe I didn't explain my point - You hardly ever hear any NFL talking heads talk about how the TO margin is so critical. I'd guarantee that we'll hear all kinds of analysis on all the games of this weekend, and I doubt that we'll hear it mentioned anywhere that the teams which won the turnover battle were 10-4 (or whatever it turns out to be this weekend).
I know we won't hear that on ESPN, FSN, any local papers, or on any radio show. But it's by far the best gauge of which teams are winning...