CHARLOTTE – Head coach Ron Rivera has often trotted out the line "figures lie and liars figure" this year. But a few stories of the Panthers' regular season can be clearly seen through some stats.
Here's a look at the major categories, followed by notes on the offense and defense.
|Category ||Average/Total||NFL Rank|
|3rd Down %||41.9||7th|
|Red Zone TD %||53.8||17th|
- The Panthers were 20th in rushing midway through the season, so to wind up 4th, they obviously finished with a flourish (excluding the season finale in Atlanta).
- 28th in passing isn't ideal, but for what it's worth, here's where the passing game ranked in Carolina's previous three postseason appearances: 29th, 2013; 19th, 2014; 24th, 2015).
- The offense averaged 0.4 points fewer than it did last year but finished three spots higher in that category.
- Cam Newton was sacked 22 times in his first seven games and 13 times in his final nine games.
Panthers Defense Category
Average/Total NFL Rank Total Yds 317.1 7th Rushing Yds 88.1 3rd Passing Yds 229.1 18th 3rd Down % 37.9 13th Points 20.4 t11th Takeaways 21 t16th Red Zone TD % 47.7 8th Sacks 50.0 3rd
- After falling to 21st in total defense last season, the Panthers finished in the top 10 for the fifth time since 2012.
- The rush defense finished in the top-6 for the fourth time since 2013.
- The pass defense was ranked 3rd midway through the season, so they had a precipitous drop to wind up 18th.
- Same for third down defense, which was ranked 5th after Week 9.
- The previous two numbers factored heavily into points allowed, which went from 3rd to 11th in the final seven weeks of the season.
- "Thieves Ave." produced only 10 interceptions, tied for sixth-fewest in the league.
- Carolina finished top 3 in sacks for the third straight year and in the top 10 for the fifth time since Eric Washington took over the defensive line in 2012.
- The Panthers jumped 21 spots in red zone defense over the final seven weeks of the season. And now, some notable individual numbers:
- Newton was second in yards per carry – throughout the whole league. His 5.4 average was second only to Saints running back Alvin Kamara (6.1).
- Newton's career-high 754 rushing yards was good for 23rd among all players. His 139 carries was also a career high.
- Newton's 80.7 passer rating was the second-worst of his career, behind last year's 75.8. He especially struggled on third down, when his 60.7 rating ranked 38th among quarterbacks.
- Christian McCaffrey tied for 14th overall with 80 receptions, one behind Kamara for most among all rookies.
- Jonathan Stewart's 3.4 yards per carry was the lowest of his 10-year career.
- Devin Funchess had 63 receptions for 840 yards and eight touchdowns. In his first two seasons, he totaled 54 catches for 844 yards and nine scores.
- Michael Palardy's 42.4 net average was fifth-best among punters.
- Graham Gano, who made all but one of his 30 field goal attempts, led the league with a franchise-record 96.7 make percentage.