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Stats (Panthers Pass Protection) v. Stats (Falcons Pass Rush): Week 17

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This series dissects each upcoming game from a statistic-driven viewpoint, focusing in on one or more positional battles of interest.  Not predicting what will happen, just trying to narrow down what could happen, assuming past performance tells us something about future performance.  If any of these statistics don't sound familiar, give our Statistics 101 Series a read.

Sack often and early.  Then keeping sacking.  Sack so much that Jimmy Clausen thinks he's Justin Beiber (only temporarily - no permanent damage please).  These are my wishes for the new year.

Join me after the jump where we'll ridicule the Panthers talk about some cool stats and stuff.

On paper we should dominate the Panthers Pass Protection v. Falcons Pass Rush positional battle.  In fact, I'm not even sure you'll be able to call it a "battle."  If any Panthers fans are reading this, trust that I mean no offense, but really it's akin to Apollo Creed taking on Ivan Drago.  Creed certainly had his time, yet he had no business stepping into the ring with the younger, faster, exponentially-more-talented Drago.

The Panthers' offensive line is HORRIBLE when it comes to pass protection.  Kalil and Jordan get a lot of credit league-wide, but their line has surrendered 47 sacks this year, or an average of almost three sacks per game.  Their Adjusted Sack Rate is 9.7 percent, second worst in the league.  Although DB/WR/QB play factors in to some extent, with a Pass Offense DVOA of negative 36 percent (36 percent less successful than the league-average Pass Offense and second worst in the league), Marty Hurney might want to take a look at some offensive linemen in April's draft.

As a whole, the Falcons' defensive line is not exactly sack-happy; we have logged 27 sacks this year, or an average of 1.7 sacks per game.  Our Adjusted Sack Rate is 5.6 percent, 25th in the league.  To be fair, those numbers represent their performance over the entire 2010 campaign.  Grimes/Robinson/Moore/Decoud have arguably played far better in the second half, meaning our defensive line isn't as mediocre as those numbers seemingly suggest.

What do you all think?  My sense is that it's going to get very ugly for the Panthers (in case you couldn't tell), but I'm interested to hear your thoughts. 

Comment often and early.  And as always, GO FORTH AND BE STATISTICAL!