Panthers Vs. 49ers: What Do The Stats Tell Us?

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

If the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers can travel across the country and take the Seattle Seahawks to the edge of defeat, then the upstart Carolina Panthers should be able to accomplish at least as much against the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday. This seems logical enough, but what do the numbers tell us?

Take a few moments to look over the following statistics, then meet me on the other side for some simple insight and analysis.

Category Rank Panthers 49ers Rank Category
1 OFF Points/G 11th 25.5 18.1 4th DEF Points/G
2 DEF Points/G 2nd 13.3 27.3 5th OFF Points/G
3 OFF Rush Yrds/G 8th 130.1 104.6 12th DEF Rush Yrds/G
4 DEF Rush Yrds/G 2nd 79.1 153.0 1st OFF Rush Yrds/G
5 OFF Rush Yrds/Att 19th 4.0 3.9 10th DEF Rush Yrds/Att
6 DEF Rush Yrds/Att 7th 3.7 4.5 9th OFF Rush Yrds/Att
7 OFF Rush 1st Downs 2nd 70 47 13th DEF Rush 1st Downs
8 DEF Rush 1st Downs 3rd 32 68 3rd OFF Rush 1st Downs
9 OFF Pass Yrds/G 25th 203.0 220.5 8th DEF Pass Yrds/G
10 DEF Pass Yrds/G 10th 221.0 189.9 32nd OFF Pass Yrds/G
11 OFF Pass Yrds/Att 11th 7.5 6.5 5th DEF Pass Yrds/Att
12 DEF Pass Yrds/Att 9th 6.8 8.0 7th OFF Pass Yrds/Att
13 OFF Pass 1st Downs 25th 90 83 3rd DEF Pass 1st Down
14 DEF Pass 1st Down 5th 87 70 32nd OFF Pass 1st Downs
15 OFF Comp % 9th 64.4% 57.2% 4th DEF Comp %
16 DEF Comp % 29th 67.1% 57.3% 26th OFF Comp %
17 OFF 3rd Down % 3rd 47.0% 33.0% 3rd DEF 3rd Down %
18 DEF 3rd Down % 10th 36.3% 40.2% 11th OFF 3rd Down %
19 Sacks 13th 23 15 7th Sacks Allowed
20 Sacks Allowed 15th 22 17 25th Sacks
21 Turnover Differential 2nd 8+ 4+ 6th Turnover Differential
22 Time of Possession 1st 34:00 30:14 15th Time of Possession
23 OFF RZ TD % 10th 60.87% 63.64% 28th DEF RZ TD %
24 DEF RZ TD % 3rd 37.50% 62.96% 7th OFF RZ TD %
25 Penalties/Game 6th 5.1 6.9 20th Penalties/Game

Row 2: Which is more likely?

A. The Panthers defense holds the 49ers below 13.3 points.

B. The Panthers defense allows the 49ers to score more than 27.3 points.

Row 4: The 49ers are averaging almost twice as many rush yards as the Panthers allow per game.

This may very well be the most important stat of the game. If the Panthers hold the 49ers below 100 yards rushing, they will likely win.

Row 6: The yards per attempt stats in this row helps explain row 4's data.

Do you believe the Panthers will allow the 49ers to rush for more than their yards per attempt season average(4.5)?

Rows 9 and 10: Do you mean to tell me that prolific passing numbers aren't synonymous with winning?

Newton and Kaepernick are 25th and 32nd respectively in passing yards per game, yet each have led their teams to winning records. This tells me that defense is still relevant and always will be.

Row 15: The 49ers pass defense will be the toughest Newton has faced thus far.

The return of DE Aldon Smith will make Newton's job even more difficult. Do you believe Newton's completion percentage will be more than 57%?

Row 16: The Panthers 29th ranked pass completion percentage defense is one of the worst in the league.

Will Kaepernick make them pay by besting his bottom ten 57.3% pass completion percentage?

Row 17: 3rd ranked offensive 3rd down conversion rate VS 3rd ranked defensive 3rd down conversion rate.

Here is another strength vs. strength. This stat will most definitely prove to be a crucial one in the final outcome.

Row 19: The 49ers offensive line is allowing less than 2 sacks per game thanks in part to Kaepernick's legs.

Will the Panthers find a way to sack the elusive Kaepernick more than 2 times?

Row 22: The Panthers lead the league in average time of possession.

The 49ers are middle of the road in this category, but I believe the Panthers will finish the game with less than their league leading average.

Row 24: Panthers 3rd ranked red zone defense vs 49ers 7th ranked red zone offense.

This might be one of the most intriguing match-ups on Sunday if each team can manage to get into the red zone. The 49ers are scoring a touchdown approximately 3 out of every 5 trips to the red zone, while the Panthers are only allowing 2 opposing touchdowns for every 5 trips to the red zone. Whoever wins this battle may decide the game.

Don't be surprised if the data gives us one story while the actual game gives us a completely different one. Ultimately, if the Panthers can stop the run and Newton can play efficiently, then there's a good chance they will win. Conversely, if the 49ers can run effectively and Kaepernick is given a clean pocket to work with, then there's an equally good chance that they will come out on top. Either way, it should be a fun game to watch.

Final Score: 49ers 23 Panthers 20

Now that you know some of the stats that stood out to me, let everyone know what exactly caught your attention. Also feel free to answer any of the questions I posed above in the comment section that follows.

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