What stats can tell us which teams will improve or regress in football? Point differential, record in close games and turnover differential have predictive value. Another number to consider is defensive touchdowns allowed.

Defensive touchdowns allowed are how many points a team permitted when there was a fumble or interception by the offense. Here is an example from last season.

Vic Beasley strip sacked Jared Goff returning the fumble 21-yards for a touchdown. A lot had to go right for the Falcons Pro Bowler to score on that play. In addition to beating his man, the fumble had to bounce right into his arms, then he had to avoid a tackle by lineman Rob Havenstein. If the ball ricochets in another direction, Beasley just falls on the fumble or Havenstein makes the tackle there is no touchdown.

Forcing turnovers is a skill but returning them for touchdowns is pretty much random. Thus, points allowed off of defensive touchdowns usually regress to the mean from season to season.

In 2015, the Jags allowed 42 points off of defensive touchdowns. Last year the number dropped to a respectable 18 points, league average was 10.7 points. Three other teams from 2015 that allowed 24 or more points, the Cowboys, Ravens and Eagles, didn’t allow a single defensive touchdown last season.

The Panthers and Colts allowed six points off of defensive touchdowns in 2015, tied for second fewest. Last season Carolina gave up 24 points (tied 3rd most) and Indy conceded 18 points.

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This year the Rams and Titans are two teams that are likely to regress in defensive touchdowns allowed. Both franchises have young quarterbacks that are looking to take a step forward in their development and limit turnovers. Nine teams managed to avoid giving up a touchdown off a turnover last year. It’s unlikely they all pull off the feat again. Though, the Steelers haven’t allowed a defensive touchdown since 2013.

Defensive Touchdowns Allowed

TeamPoints Allowed
Los Angeles Rams36
Tennessee Titans36
Carolina Panthers24
Los Angeles Chargers24
New Orleans Saints24
New York Jets24
Jacksonville Jaguars18
Washington Redskins18
Indianapolis Colts18
Arizona Cardinals18
Atlanta Falcons12
Chicago Bears12
Tampa Bay Buccaneers12
Cleveland Browns12
Denver Broncos6
Detroit Lions6
Kansas City Chiefs6
Miami Dolphins6
New York Giants6
Green Bay Packers6
San Francisco 49ers6
Seattle Seahawks6
Houston Texans6
Buffalo Bills0
Cincinnati Bengals0
Dallas Cowboys0
Oakland Raiders0
Minnesota Vikings0
New England Patriots0
Philadelphia Eagles0
Pittsburgh Steelers0
Baltimore Ravens0