Panthers Defense is Now Top Dog

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

After nine games you have enough data to draw conclusions about team performance. For team stats I find Football Outsiders DVOA statistics as the most useful and valid to rate team performance.

I haven't been monitoring team DVOA this season like I do the Pro Football Focus player grades so I wasn;t too sure how the Panthers would rate. I figured the Panther defense would be near the top but I didn't think it would this:

The Panther Defense is #1 in the NFL!

Here are the key team stats:

Stat NFL Rank Weighted DVOA
Team DVOA 3 31.3%
Offense DVOA 10 7.6%
Defense DVOA 1 -19.8%
Offense - Pass 13 10.7%
Offense - Run 5 8.8%
Defense - Pass 3 -18.4%
Defense - Run 3 -22.1%
Special Teams 16 1.70%
FG/XP 5.30%
Kick 1.3%
Kick Ret 0.1%
Punt 0.1%
Punt Ret -3.2%

If the defensive ranking wasn't a surprise for you how about the offenses' #10 rankings? Considering the inconsistency I'm a little surprised, especially seeing the rushing offense at #5. But I always forget that its more than just Williams and now Stewart. Tolbert and Newton also add significant yardage to the weekly totals. For all the discussion about Newton needing more weapons the passing game is still a respectable #13.

I'm also pleasantly surprised that special teams has moved up to the middle of the pack after being one of the worst units in the NFL the past few seasons. About the only number in the chart above you could have an issue with as a Panther fan is the punt return number, which I'm surprised is the lowest of the special teams units. I would have thought with Ted Ginn returning punts we would be top 10 but then again his longest return (so far) is 25 yards. In other words, I expect that number to go up.

So now that the Panther defense is the top dog of the NFL the real work begins...staying on top. The first test is a big one, on the MNF stage, against a top Panther nemesis in Tom Brady. It's setting up to be a classic.

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