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By the Numbers stats preview: Falcons at Panthers

After defeating the Saints, the Falcons (2-7) travel to take on the Panthers (5-4) in another NFC South showdown. We take a closer look at how Atlanta and Carolina match up statistically on offense and defense.

Atlanta Falcons v Carolins Panthers Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

We finally got to witness a Falcons victory for the first time since Week 2, and it couldn’t have come against a better opponent. Atlanta took down the Saints in glorious fashion, pulling off one of the best upsets of the 2019 season and embarrassing a hated rival in their home stadium. I’d advise everyone to enjoy that game, because I’m not sure how many more wins this team will manage to find this year.

Week 11 brings another divisional road matchup, this time against the Carolina Panthers (5-4). Carolina has a different look this season, with QB Cam Newton on IR and the defense changing to a 3-4 base. The Falcons will face QB Kyle Allen, who has put together a 5-2 record as the starter and has generally looked like a respectable fill-in for Newton.

Let’s take a closer look at how the Falcons and Panthers compare statistically on offense and defense heading into Week 11.

OFFENSE

Statistic Falcons Jaguars
Statistic Falcons Jaguars
Points/game 23.5 (15th) 17.9 (27th)
Total yards/game 370.3 (11th) 344.8 (20th)
Yards per play 5.5 (15th) 5.4 (18th)
Passing yards/game 288.9 (4th) 235.8 (14th)
Passing yards per attempt 7.4 (T-14th) 6.8 (T-18th)
Passing TDs 27 (T-5th) 20 (T-19th)
Rushing yards/game 81.4 (30th) 109.0 (15th)
Rushing yards per attempt 3.7 (T-26th) 4.5 (T-11th)
Rushing TDs 8 (T-23rd) 3 (32nd)
Third Down Efficiency 42% (14th) 33% (28th)
Turnover Margin -6 (25th) -3 (20th)

The Falcons put together a good performance on offense against the Saints, which has improved their offensive statistics. Atlanta is now 20th in scoring offense, 10th in total yardage, and 10th in yards per play. In the passing game, the team is 2nd in yardage, T-13th in yards per attempt, and 4th in passing TDs. On the ground, the Falcons are 29th in rushing yardage, T-23rd in yards per carry, and T-28th in rushing TDs. Atlanta has been above-average on third down, with a 43% conversion rate, but remain among the worst in the league in turnover margin (-12, T-30th).

Carolina has a confusing offense this year. The Panthers are 10th in scoring offense, but just 21st in total yardage, and 20th in yards per play. In the passing game, the team is 23rd in yardage, T-24th in yards per attempt, and T-25th in passing TDs. Carolina has been dominant on the ground, however: 7th in rushing yardage, 3rd in yards per attempt, and 2nd in rushing TDs. The Panthers have struggled on third down, converting only 33% of opportunities (26th), but they’ve been excellent in turnover margin (+4, T-8th) in large part due to an opportunistic defense.

Advantage: Falcons

DEFENSE

Statistic Falcons Jaguars
Statistic Falcons Jaguars
Points/game 26.1 (25th) 25.2 (23rd)
Total yards/game 362.6 (20th) 372.4 (24th)
Yards per play 5.8 (21st) 6.0 (28th)
Passing yards/game 253.7 (23rd) 232.3 (14th)
Passing yards per attempt 7.8 (T-24th) 7.9 (26th)
Passing TDs 25 (22nd) 21 (T-15th)
Rushing yards/game 108.9 (16th) 140.1 (29th)
Rushing yards per attempt 4.1 (T-10th) 5.1 (31st)
Rushing TDs 13 (T-20th) 19 (31st)
Third Down Efficiency 43% (24th) 41% (22nd)
Sacks 24 (T-29th) 43 (T-5th)

Atlanta managed the best defensive performance of the season against New Orleans, which has helped move their stats from “worst in the league” to merely “bottom-10”. The Falcons are 28th in scoring defense, 23rd in total yardage allowed, and 25th in yards per play allowed. Against the pass, the team is 25th in passing yardage, T-28th in yards per attempt, and T-27th in passing TDs allowed. Atlanta has fared better against the run: 20th in rushing yardage, T-5th in yards per carry, and T-21st in rushing TDs allowed. The Falcons are still tied for the league-worst third down defense, allowing a 50% conversion rate. Despite a 6-sack performance that nearly doubled their season sack total, Atlanta is still only T-30th in sacks this season with 13.

After a hot start to the season, the Panthers defense has started to show some cracks. Carolina is 22nd in scoring defense, 20th in total yardage allowed, and 12th in yards per play. They’ve been at their best against the pass: 11th in passing yardage, 7th in yards per attempt, and 8th in passing TDs allowed. However, the Panthers have been downright awful against the run: 29th in rushing yardage, T-31st in yards per carry, and 32nd in rushing TDs allowed. Carolina has been below average on third down, allowing a 41% conversion rate (21st), but currently lead the league in sacks with an impressive 36 on the season.

Advantage: Panthers

Analysis

The Falcons put together an excellent four-quarter effort against the Saints, but can they replicate that performance again in 2019? For the first time all season, we saw the defense look competent alongside a ball control offense that struggled but managed to do enough to secure the win. By all accounts, the Panthers are an easier opponent than the Saints. But can we actually trust this team to continue this streak of playing well?

The answer is probably no, but this article is designed to look at the matchup from a statistical angle. Looking at the stats, we see that the Falcons have the slight edge on offense—particularly in passing, where the Panthers have struggled—and the Panthers have the moderate edge on defense.

It seems like Carolina actually matches up well with Atlanta, based on each team’s strengths. The Panthers have the passing defense to neutralize Atlanta’s greatest weapons, and the Falcons don’t have the rushing offense to take advantage of Carolina’s weaknesses against the run. We did see a productive rushing attack against New Orleans—who has a far superior run defense—but can it be replicated? Can the Falcons run defense, which has been solid-to-good, put the clamps on RB Christian McCaffrey? I’m not sure, but the Panthers have the slight edge here.

Overall Advantage: Panthers


How do you think the Falcons and Panthers compare statistically? What’s your prediction for the game on Sunday?