Carolina Panthers Team Stats: 2012 vs. 2013

Streeter Lecka

Now that we’re three quarters of the way into the 2013 season, I thought it would be a good time to make some quick offensive and defensive stats comparisons from 2012.

Offense

2012

2013

YPG

360.7 (12)*

327.8 (24)

Pts/G

22.3 (18)

23.8 (14)

Pass YPG

245.4 (16)

218 (28)

YPA

7.5 (4)

6.6 (15)

Run YPG

130.5 (9)

129.3 (9)

YPC

4.5 (10)

4.1 (17)

Third Down

43% (6)

46% (3)

Fourth Down

33% (27)

82% (2)

Sacks Allowed/Game

2.25 (17)

2.58 (14)

*Numbers in the brackets are NFL ranking

A quick look at these raw stats shows that the Panthers 2013 offense has slightly regressed from last season. The Panthers overall passing and rushing yardage are down, along with the yards per attempt and yard per carry. Quarterback Cam Newton is also being sacked more times per game compared with last season, as his sack rate has gone up from 2.25 in 2012 to 2.58 in 2013.

Despite the reduced yardage, the offense is scoring 1.5 points more per game. This is because of their third and fourth down conversion rates. Last season, the Panthers were one of the worst teams in the NFL on fourth downs, as they only converted 33% of their fourth downs. This season, thanks to "Riverboat" Ron Rivera, the Panthers have become one of the best teams in the NFL on fourth downs, as they have converted nine of eleven attempts for an 82% conversion rate.

Defense

2012

2013

YPG

331.1 (10)

289.8 (2)

Pts/G

22.7 (18)

13.1 (1)

Pass YPG

223 (13)

209.6 (6)

YPA

6.4 (11)

6.2 (9)

Run YPG

110.1 (14)

80.3 (2)

YPC

4.2 (15)

3.7 (4)

Third Down

36% (9)

32% (3)

Fourth Down

53% (19)

22% (3)

Surprise! The Panthers 2013 defense has been out-performing the 2012 defense in every single statistical category. Teams have had a hard time scoring on the Panthers mostly because of how dominant the Panthers front seven has been this season. Teams have had very little success running the ball against the Panthers, as they have only managed to muster 80.3 yards and 3.7 yards per carry. The excellent pass rush has also helped the the Panthers secondary hold opposing offenses to just 209.6 yards per game, and 6.2 yards per pass attempt. The Panthers defense has also done an excellent job getting teams off the field – teams have only converted 32% of their third downs and 22% of their fourth downs, both conversion rates rank third in the league.

Turnovers

Last season, the Carolina Panthers turnover differential was +1, which ranked sixteenth in the NFL. So far this season, the Panthers turnover differential is +10,which is third best in the league. The Panthers are playing safer, smarter football on offense and are being more opportunistic on defense, and the result is a significantly improved turnover differential which has helped the Panthers win more games this season.

Pacing

2012 TOP: 29:51 (19)

2013 TOP: 33:10 (1)

The Panthers have the best time of possession in the league, as they are holding onto the football for 33 minutes and 10 seconds per game, which is over three minutes more than last season. This has largely been possible due to the excellent offensive conversion rates on third and fourth down.

Advanced Stats

Raw stats don’t tell the whole story. To get a better picture of how the Panthers are doing compared with last season, I’ll use Football Outsiders 'DVOA' metric.

Just a quick refresher:

DVOA is a method of evaluating teams, units, or players. It takes every single play during the NFL season and compares each one to a league-average baseline based on situation. DVOA measures not just yardage, but yardage towards a first down: Five yards on third-and-4 are worth more than five yards on first-and-10 and much more than five yards on third-and-12. Red zone plays are worth more than other plays. Performance is also adjusted for the quality of the opponent. DVOA is a percentage, so a team with a DVOA of 10.0% is 10 percent better than the average team, and a quarterback with a DVOA of -20.0% is 20 percent worse than the average quarterback. Because DVOA measures scoring, defenses are better when they are negative.

Offense Efficiency

2012

2013

Total Offensive DVOA

7.2% (10)

11.4% (8)

Pass Ranking

12

10

Run Ranking

8

6

Defense Efficiency

2012

2013

Total Defensive DVOA

-3.1% (11)

-18% (2)

Pass Defense Ranking

12

3

Run Defense Ranking

8

3

The advanced stats show that the Panthers overall offense and defense has improved in every single category. The offense has become more efficient while the defense has become more aggressive and opportunistic. These improvements, along with excellent special teams play are why the Panthers are on an eight-game winning streak and hold one of the best records in the league at 9-3. If the Panthers can continue to play at this high level, there’s no reason why they can’t win it all in February.

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