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Would you rather: be a Panthers offensive lineman this week or eat a rusty nail? I'll go with the former.
If weeks one through three are any indication, Mike Nolan is drooling in his office right meow. Right meow I say! And why's he drooling? Well he did get his swerve on last night. But that's not the root of the drool, so to speak. He's drooling because the Panthers' offensive line has been lackluster at best. And if there's one thing Nolan loves, it's a lackluster offensive line.
I know some of you aren't into advanced statistics, but let's do some comparative analysis here. Carolina's' adjusted sack rate is 6.7 percent, 20th best in the league. They've only given up six sacks in three games, but their team passer rating is just 80.8, 23rd best in the league. They aren't throwing a ton of incompletions, averaging only 10 per game, 5th best in the league. They're also averaging a respectable 267.3 passing yards per game, 11th best in the league.
So what's the problem? Cam "Steve Smith Don't Like Me" Newton. He's thrown two touchdowns and five interceptions. His poor performance got him pulled from last week's debacle against the Giants. He's facing real criticism for the first time in his young career, and the jury's still out on whether he can rise above the fray. His running backs aren't helping. They're adjusted line yards is a measly 3.26, 27th best in the league. To that effect, they're getting stuffed on 63 percent of their carries, 17th best in the league.
Newton's year isn't getting any easier this week. The Falcons defense is red hot. As we discussed last night, we have the best turnover margin in the league. Atlanta's adjusted sack rate is only 6.3 percent, 17th best in the league, but they've generated a TON of pressure.
Bottom line: our defense will cause problems for the Panthers' offensive line.