The Carolina Panthers week 2 win against the San Francisco 49ers was a game filled with dramatic moments and some big plays.
The stat sheet from the game is fascinating and there are many interesting facets of the game to explore. It’s hard to know where to start! Here are a few statistical tidbits and data from the gamebook that caught my eye.
1. Carolina Panthers Home dominance:
The Carolina Panthers are on an incredible hot streak in terms of their recent home games in Bank of America stadium. As many fans of the team will know, Sunday’s win against the 49ers meant that the Panthers have continued their league-leading home win streak. It now stands at 14 games (counting playoff games), or 11 regular season games.
That’s a nice streak, though it’s nowhere close yet to being an all-time record. According to Wikipedia, these are the existing records for home game wins:
- Most Consecutive Home Games Won, 27. Miami Dolphins 1971–74
- Most Consecutive Home Games Won (including playoffs), 31. Miami Dolphins 1971–74
- Most Consecutive Home Games Without Defeat, 30. Green Bay Packers 1928–33
But it’s not just the number of consecutive home wins that’s impressive, the Panthers’ points scored in recent home games is really eye-popping. Here are the Panthers’ most recent 7 home games:
Those point totals manage to make the Panthers 31 points against Seattle in the Divisional playoff game look pretty lame!
I’m not an expert at using Pro-Football Reference’s game query finder*, but digging around there earlier today, I couldn’t find too many other teams with better periods of dominance at home.
- The 1999 – 2000 Saint Louis Rams had a stretch of 12 out of 13 home games (including 8 consecutive games) where they scored at least 31 points.
- The 2012 – 2013 Broncos scored 31+ points in 9 consecutive home games (including 1 loss).
- Similarly, the 2007 Patriots began their historic 16-0 season scoring 31+ points in their first 6 home games.
It’s pretty amazing to put the 2015-2016 Panthers in the same conversation with some of the best-ever NFL offenses. Panther fans just hope the Carolina Panthers’ scoring dominance continues in 2016 – both at home AND away games!
*[A big shout out to Mike at PFR for help with the query syntax that allowed me to provide the correct link to the database!]
2. Offensive Fireworks:
The Carolina Panthers put on quite a show offensively in week 2, even though they allowed 4 turnovers!
According to Pro-Football Reference, this is only the 3rd time in franchise history that the Panthers have recorded more than 500 yards on offense. Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton led the offense for all three 500+ yard games :
In 2015, the Panthers highest yard total was 497 yards in their shoot out against New Orleans in the Super Dome in week 13.
On Sunday, the Panthers scored on 8 of their 14 drives on offense, but their scoring dominance was lopsided, with 6 of those scoring drives occurring in the 2nd half. Carolina scored on all but one of their seven 2nd half drives:
Imagine what this offense can do if they don’t turn the ball over 3 times! Opposing defenses might well be worrying!
3. Nice Job on Improving on Week 1 Weaknesses:
One aspect of the Week 2 game data particularly encouraged me: the extent to which the Panthers showed obvious improvement in almost all their areas of weakness from their week 1 loss to Denver. Here are five of the most obvious examples of learning from week 1 mistakes:
A. Run Defense:
The Panthers halved their opponents’ yards per carry and more than halved the total rushing yards against them. They put a lid on the big runs which cost them so badly against Denver, allowing only one run of 10 yards or better.
B. Panthers’ Deep Passing Game:
Secondly, I noted a big improvement in the Carolina Panthers’ passing game. These stats pretty much speak for themselves, but perhaps most notable is the improvement in the Panthers’ deep passing game.
“Big Plays” were an important part of the Panthers’ success in 2015. While giving credit to the excellence of Denver’s defense, it was worrisome to see no pass completion of longer than 18 yards in week 1. Cam Newton and the Panthers more than corrected that weakness against the 49ers. The 5 passing plays of 25+ yards in week 2 exceeds the team’s best regular season performance in 2015, which came, interestingly enough, against Coach Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles in week 7 of 2015, when the Panthers had 4 long passing plays.
C. Stopping Opponents on Third Down:
Once again looking at the defense, the Panthers also showed substantial improvement from week 1 to week 2 in getting off the field on 3rd down.
San Francisco was forced to punt on 44% of their drives, as opposed to Denver whom the Panthers’ defense only forced to punt 33% of the time.
D. Turnover Scoring Efficiency:
A fourth area of major improvement for the Carolina Panthers in week 2 was a return to their 2015 winning ways in terms of being extremely “opportunistic” in scoring when their opponents turned over the ball. The Panthers led the NFL in 2015 in points scored following turnovers (148 points scored following takeaways.)
Against Denver it was quite worrying that in spite of forcing 3 turnovers, the Panthers offense could only score 7 points. As the comparison below shows, in week 2 the Panthers scored on all 3 of the 49ers’ turnovers:
Panthers fans have to be excited that the team is averaging 3 takeaways per game. (Currently tied for 2nd place in the NFL). In 2015 Carolina totaled 39 takeaways, an average of 2.4 takeaways per game. Even with a lot of turnover in their secondary, and rookie CBs replacing stars Josh Norman and Peanut Tillman, the Panthers’ thieving ways continue in 2016. If the team can continue to convert turnovers to points as they did against San Francisco, they will be very hard to beat. (Of course Carolina must do a better job of holding on to the ball. The Panthers’ total of 5 giveaways and 27 points allowed off of giveaways in weeks 1 and 2 is much worse then their 2015 averages. So that needs to be an area of continued focus.)
E. Better Protection
Anyone who watched the Panthers loss to the Denver Broncos in week 1 had to be concerned about the hits and pressures against Cam Newton. Fortunately the Panthers Offensive Line showed dramatic improvement against the San Francisco 49ers. Here are the stats for sacks and QB hurries by both Denver and San Francisco against the Panthers:
Looking at the 2015 average, you can see how extreme Denver’s 8 quarterback hurries were for the Panthers in week 1. In no regular season 2015 season game had Cam Newton faced more than 7 hurries (versus Tennessee). To see the Panthers O-line rebound and step up protection and limit hurries and hits so well against San Francisco was wonderfully encouraging. In fact, several of the Panthers’ Offensive Linemen, notably tackles Michael Oher, Mike Remmers and guard Trai Turner received high grades from PFF for the week 2 game versus San Francisco. (Notably: Right Tackle Mike Remmer’s PFF grade improved from 34.8 in week 1 to 80.8 in week 2! Of course it helps when you’re not playing against Von Miller!)
So, in conclusion, Panthers fans have a lot to be encouraged about:
- the excitement of high-scoring home wins,
- lots of offensive firepower,
- and a team showing they’re focused and committed to working hard to improve on mistakes week to week.
After two weeks of the 2016 season, there are many reasons to predict sustained excellence and dominance from this team. #KeepPounding!