Toxic Differential is a statistic in football used to measure a team on their ability in creating and preventing both turnovers and explosive plays. Toxic Differential is calculated by adding together a teams turnover differential (takeaways - giveaways) and its big play differential (big plays for - big plays against). Toxic differential is a combination of three different differential statistics:
1) Turnover differential, which is the difference between the total number of takeaways (opponent turnovers) less the total number of giveaways (team turnovers).
2) Passing Big Play differential, which is the difference between the total number of passing plays of 25+ yards by the team less the total number of passing plays of 25+ yards the team gave up.
3) Rushing Big Play differential, which is the difference between the total number of rushing plays of 10+ yards by the team less the total number of rushing plays of 10+ yards the team gave up.
A higher toxic differential is better.
The statistic was created by Super Bowl winning coach Brian Billick while he was offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings. He's quoted as saying "It’s not merely good enough to avoid turning the ball over; you need to generate big offensive plays as well."
The ideal is having a double positive, in other words a team is winning the turnover differential AND the explosive play differential. Over the last 15+ seasons, a majority of teams that have won the Super Bowl finished the regular season in the Top 10 for Toxic Differential.
Halfway through the 2016 season, the top 3 teams in toxic differential are the Cowboys (25), Falcons (20), and Patriots (17).
The Cowboys play the Steelers in week 10. The Cowboys have a differential of 25 while the Steelers have a differential of -1. This statistic leads to the probability that the Cowboys will beat the Steelers in week 10.