Does offense or defense win championships? Turns out both but the real deciding factor in who wins the Super Bowl is turnovers. An ill-timed interception here, a fumble there can swing the fortunes of a team. Turnovers will decide not only who wins the Super Bowl but also which team covers.

In the 50 previous Super Bowls, a team has won the turnover battle 42 times. The other eight games there were either no turnovers or the teams had the same amount. In the 42 games where one team had a better turnover differential, that team went on to win the game 88.1% of the time (37-5 straight-up).

The teams that won the turnover battle also covered the spread. These teams that forced more turnovers and gave the ball away fewer times went 32-9-1 (78%) ATS. If you are having a hard time deciding which team to bet, pick the one you think will win the turnover battle.

For the record, the Patriots and Falcons were 3rd and 4th respectively in turnover differential during the regular season. New England had 23 takeaways and 11 turnovers while Atlanta had 22 takeaways and 11 turnovers. In the playoffs the Pats have 5 takeaways vs. 3 turnovers and the Falcons have 4 takeaways and zero turnovers.

Turnover data courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.

Super BowlMatchupWon TurnoversWon GameCovered
LCarolina vs. DenverDenver BroncosYesYes
XLIXSeattle vs. New EnglandSeattle SeahawksNoNo
XLVIIISeattle vs. DenverSeattle SeahawksYesYes
XLVIISan Francisco vs. BaltimoreBaltimore RavensYesYes
XLVIN.Y. Giants vs. New EnglandNew York GiantsYesYes
XLVGreen Bay vs. PittsburghGreen Bay PackersYesYes
XLIVNew Orleans vs. IndianapolisNew Orleans SaintsYesYes
XLIIIPittsburgh vs. ArizonaPittsburgh SteelersYesNo
XLIIN.Y. Giants vs. New Englandtied--
XLIIndianapolis vs. ChicagoIndianapolis ColtsYesYes
XLPittsburgh vs. SeattleSeattle SeahawksNoNo
XXXIXNew England vs. PhiladelphiaNew England PatriotsYesNo
XXXVIIINew England vs. Carolinatied--
XXXVIITampa Bay vs. OaklandTampa Bay BuccaneersYesYes
XXXVINew England vs. St. LouisNew England PatriotsYesYes
XXXVBaltimore vs. N.Y. GiantsBaltimore RavensYesYes
XXXIVSt. Louis vs. Tennesseetied--
XXXIIIDenver vs. AtlantaDenver BroncosYesYes
XXXIIDenver vs. Green BayDenver BroncosYesYes
XXXIGreen Bay vs. New EnglandGreen Bay PackersYesPush
XXXDallas vs. PittsburghDallas CowboysYesNo
XXIXSan Francisco vs. San DiegoSan Francisco 49ersYesYes
XXVIIIDallas vs. BuffaloDallas CowboysYesYes
XXVIIDallas vs. BuffaloDallas CowboysYesYes
XXVIWashington vs. BuffaloWashington RedskinsYesYes
XXVN.Y. Giants vs. Buffalotied--
XXIVSan Francisco vs. DenverSan Francisco 49ersYesYes
XXIIISan Francisco vs. CincinnatiCincinnati BengalsNoNo
XXIIWashington vs. DenverWashington RedskinsYesYes
XXIN.Y. Giants vs. DenverNew York GiantsYesYes
XXChicago vs. New EnglandChicago BearsYesYes
XIXSan Francisco vs. Miamitied--
XVIIIL.A. Raiders vs. WashingtonLos Angeles RaidersYesYes
XVIIWashington vs. Miamitied--
XVISan Francisco vs. CincinnatiSan Francisco 49ersYesYes
XVOakland vs. PhiladelphiaOakland RaidersYesYes
XIVPittsburgh vs. L.A. RamsLos Angeles RamsNoNo
XIIIPittsburgh vs. Dallastied--
XIIDallas vs. DenverDallas CowboysYesYes
XIOakland vs. MinnesotaOakland RaidersYesYes
XPittsburgh vs. DallasPittsburgh SteelersYesNo
IXPittsburgh vs. MinnesotaPittsburgh SteelersYesYes
VIIIMiami vs. MinnesotaMiami DolphinsYesYes
VIIMiami vs. WashingtonMiami DolphinsYesYes
VIDallas vs. MiamiDallas CowboysYesYes
VBaltimore vs. DallasDallas CowboysNoNo
IVKansas City vs. MinnesotaKansas City ChiefsYesYes
IIIN.Y. Jets vs. BaltimoreNew York JetsYesYes
IIGreen Bay vs. OaklandGreen Bay PackersYesYes
IGreen Bay vs. Kansas Citytied--