Turnovers and defense help dictate success … Lovie Smith was on to something, wasn’t he?

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Do you remember this article from Sports Illustrated back in the preseason?

Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford, two NFC North quarterbacks (at least, for the time being), were featured on the cover with the question asking: “Where did all the gunslingers go?” The article touted the big arms of the two quarterbacks and how strong their offenses were last season.

Fast forward to today where Stafford commands one of the league’s top teams, the Detroit Lions, who at 10-4 are currently in a tie with the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North lead. Meanwhile, Cutler has been benched amidst a horrendous 5-9 season by the dysfunctional Bears.

From this information, we can deduce that Stafford is a much better quarterback than Cutler, right? And the Lions are one of the best offenses in the NFL, correct?

Would it surprise you to learn that the numbers of these two “gunslingers” are very much alike?

Stafford is ranked 8th in the NFL with 3,797 passing yards. Cutler is ranked 9th with 3,640.

Stafford has completed 61.5% of his passes while Cutler is a bit more accurate with 66.1%.

Stafford has an 87.8 passer rating. Cutler has a slightly better rating of 89.5.

Stafford has thrown just 19 touchdowns while Cutler has thrown 28.

Stafford has been sacked 39 times. Cutler just 36.

And as a team offense, the 10-4 Lions are ranked only 17th in total yards and 23rd in points per game. … Your 5-9 Bears? Only one rank lower in total yards (18th) and slightly better in points per game (19th).

With all these numbers trending in favor of Cutler and the Bears, I think Vince Lombardi can sum it up best:

Well, there are two factors that best illustrate why the Lions are so successful and the Bears have completely flopped: turnovers and defense.

Cutler leads the NFL in turnovers and has thrown a league-high 18 interceptions. Stafford has taken care of the ball better and has thrown just 10 interceptions.

And on the other side of the ball, the Detroit Lions have the second-ranked defense while the Bears are a woeful 30th.

Anybody have any further questions?

Cutler is not playing as well as he should be playing, but this information proves that it takes a team to win football games — and to lose them. You can’t win by turning over the ball so much and for this, Cutler is guilty.

But you can’t win football games if your defense can’t stop anyone or take the ball away, and for that, Marc Trestman, his coaching staff, and general manager Phil Emery all are guilty.

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