You won’t find “Fumblitis” in any medical journal, but it is an unfortunate ailment. It occurs in the fall along with the onset of winter, just like colds and the flu. It’s also a very serious affliction, one that will give coaches and offensive coordinators migraines. Sometimes fumblitis can be fatal, for an offense. It will also turn wins into losses.
Fumbles can shut down an offense and even turn games around. Sunday saw an example, with the Vikings being outscored 405-137 at the NY Giants, but somehow pulling off a 24-21 victory! 5 turnovers were the difference, which included a fumble. A fumble also turned the Patriots/Dolphins game around. With Miami leading late in the second quarter and already up 7-0, TE Randy McMichael fumbled in the 9th after a lengthy win. Instead of a 14-0 or 10-0 Miami lead at halftime, the Patriots marched down and kicked a field goal to get back in the game.
Fumbles can take the life out of an offense. Here is a current list of the team with the most fumble turnovers in the NFL: New Orleans (14), Chicago (12), Washington (12), NY Jets (11), St. Louis (9), San Francisco (9). , Tennessee (9), Arizona (9), Minnesota (8), Miami (9). Two of those teams have a winning spread record (Bears, Redskins) and the combined spread records are 35-53 ATS.
Sometimes more fumbles can mean the team likes to run the ball more. This would be the case with the Bears and Redskins, who are actually decent teams. But the others have stumbled a lot this season, both up and against the number, and too many fumbles are a big reason.
Let’s go back to 2004. The teams that finished with the most fumbles were the Bears, Browns, 49ers and Bucs. Those teams didn’t even come close to making the playoffs, with the Browns and 49ers battling it out for last place in the NFL. Holding on to the ball is a matter of focus and effort, and those teams lacked it in 2004.
Turnovers can change everything. Take a look at Sunday’s Jets/Carolina score. Total yards: NY 214, Carolina 220. The Jets held the rushing lead 137-101. It looks like a defensive game, maybe a final score of 13-10? Note fully. Try Carolina 30, Jets 3. You can guess what comes next: 6 Jet turnovers, including 2 fumbles. The Panthers did not fail at all.