4 crazy stats to get you ready for Super Bowl 50
Super Bowl 50 may not kick off until Feb. 7, but that doesn’t mean the PFF crew isn’t already digging through our system in search of the biggest statistical stories. Here are four crazy stats to chew on as you count down the days until the Broncos and Panthers take the field in Santa Clara.
1. Von Miller led all OLBs with 70 quarterback pressures from the left side of the defense.
In the 2015 regular season, Miller tied Oakland’s Khalil Mack in total quarterback pressures, with 82, but led the league in pressures from the left side, with 70. Broken down further, that’s 46 hurries, 18 hits and six sacks. Miller rushes from the left approximately 73 percent of the time.
The left side is important to consider because of who Miller will line up against in the Super Bowl: Carolina right tackle Mike Remmers. Remmers’ grade in pass protection of 58.4 (1–100 scale) is good for 60th among offensive tackles. He is easily the weak spot on the Panthers’ offensive line, especially against the pass rush. Carolina will definitely need to send some help Remmer’s way, but the question is, who? Greg Olsen is a decent pass blocker, but he’s also Carolina’s top weapon in the passing game. It will be interesting to see how the Panthers account for this major mismatch.
2. The Carolina Panthers own the fourth-highest cumulative receiving grade this season.
Cam Newton has posted a fantastic season and should be considered a frontrunner for the NFL MVP award (he was our runner-up), but maybe he’s getting a little too much credit. One of the common arguments for Newton deserving the MVP is that he has accomplished so much with so little help around him. However, that is simply not true.
Including receivers and tight ends with a minimum of 100 passing snaps, Carolina’s receivers earned the highest average overall grade (76.1) in the NFL (Seattle and Arizona are second and third, respectively). From a cumulative game-grade standpoint, the Panthers owned the No. 4 receiving grade in the league, behind Arizona, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. (Remember: PFF’s grades for receivers are independent from the QB’s play, just as a QB won’t be dinged by poor play from a WR in our system.)
Greg Olsen is the alpha of the group, at 96.8, and the other five (Ed Dickson, Tedd Ginn, Devin Funchess, Philly Brown and Jerricho Cotchery) have solid grades, if not overly-impressive. They have their limitations, but they’re a good mix of size, speed, youth, and experience. Ted Ginn has the reputation for having poor hands, but 10 receivers had more drops than he did. His speed and ability to create separation turned into 10 regular season touchdowns.
The Panthers’ receiver group, as a whole, should be looked at as an asset rather than a liability.
3. Josh Norman had the lowest opposing QB rating among cornerbacks when his receiver was targeted.
In the 2015 regular season, opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 54.0 when throwing into Norman’s coverage. There wasn’t a single starting quarterback that posted a season rating that low (among QBs that played a minimum of 25 percent of their team’s snaps). Norman allowed 49 receptions on 96 targets for 457 yards. Only 108 of those yards came after the catch, and only one pass was caught for every 14 times Norman was in coverage.
Norman will have his hands full with Demaryius Thomas in the Super Bowl, but he’s no stranger to covering much bigger receivers, having faced Dez Bryant, Julio Jones (twice), Mike Evans, and Larry Fitzgerald in the last eight weeks.
4. The Denver Broncos have the lowest-graded offense of any Super Bowl team in the PFF era (since 2007).
The Broncos’ overall cumulative offensive grade of -53.5 ranked 20th in the NFL this season. The only other Super Bowl participant since 2007 with a negative offensive grade was last year’s Seattle Seahawks, and that was at -6.7 (0.0 is average).
Peyton Manning’s struggles have allowed opposing defenses to shrink the field and contain Denver’s two stellar wide receivers (Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders). The Broncos’ ability to make it to the Super Bowl with such a poor offense proves how good their defense is; they finished the 2015 season as PFF’s top-ranked defense (New England came in at No. 2, interestingly). It’s a unit without a weakness, and will be at full strength with both safeties expected to return for the Super Bowl.