4 crazy stats to get you ready for Super Bowl 50

Ryan Jenson breaks down four incredible Broncos/Panthers stats to get you ready for the big game in Santa Clara.

| 8 months ago
(Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)

(Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)

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.

  • Aaron McFarland

    So you are saying that the Vonster could go crazy in stats for this game?

  • Bill in CO

    The comment at the end of the article about Denver being “at full strength” is funny. Chris Harris’ shoulder injury has been giving him pain while brushing his teeth (not making that up), and although both Darian Stewart and TJ Ward claim they will play (and probably will), but it doesn’t sound like any of these 3 will be near 100% which could prove to be a big problem for Denver.

    • anon76returns

      Pain while brushing your teeth is different than pain while playing the game. CHJ will be able to operate as he did Sunday, if not completely pain free than at least effectively pain-free.
      Stewart and Ward have been dinged since week 12. They still played very well on Sunday before receiving new dings. The D will be good.

      • Bill in CO

        Anyone confusing the Patriots OLine with the Panthers hasn’t watched much football this season. The Broncos will be forced into far more man coverage situation which will test safeties and corners with injury far more than they were tested on Sunday.

        • Lane Trujillo

          Denver excels and prefers man coverage. Again, if Denver scores 20+ points they win this game.

          • Bill in CO

            Against the top scoring offense in the NFL and against a team that has put up 30+ points in 8 of their last 9 games, 20 might not even be nearly enough. The last time Denver faced a team capable of scoring in the 30 and coming in on a 30+ scoring streak, Denver lost…and allowed that them to put up 34. In addition, Carolina will be highest ranked total defense Denver has faced all season. Whereas, Carolina has faced two of the top 5 in the past 2 weeks and put up a combined 80 points.

          • anon76returns

            Cards lost their best player in the secondary, and there’s a rather steep drop off in talent after Peterson & Mathieu. The Broncos have 3 great cover corners, 2 very good coverage LBs, a good coverage FS, and a SS that loves to punish WRs. Cards also relied on blitzes to apply pressure, thus depleting their coverage units. The Broncos don’t have to do that.

          • T. Kothe

            Denver faced several of the best offenses in the league this year, often with up to a quarter of their defensive starters out due to injury, and only surrendered 30+ points once…and surrendered less than half of that 34 to the Steelers the 2nd time around with those starters healthy again. And outside of a classic Tom Brady last minute effort (that Cam is unlikely to manage to duplicate), only allowed 12 points to the Pats even with all their offensive playmakers back in place.

            Everyone was pegging the Patriots to hang 30+ or 40+ on the Broncos…didn’t even come close. The Pats have a bad O-line and the Panthers have a great one? Fine. Denver’s secondary is as elite as their pass rush, and the Patriots have significantly better weapons than the Panthers- and Carolina doesn’t field as many due to their protection schemes. It’s not like there’s some great weakness back there that the Panthers are better built to exploit than the Patriots were. They’re going to find it very hard to score on the Broncos’ D.

          • Bill in CO

            Anyone who thinks the Steelers offense that Denver played the first time was anything like the Steelers offense that came into Denver clearly wasn’t paying attention. You don’t bring an injured QB who said he wouldn’t have been playing if it was a regular season game and come into a game without the NFL’s best receiver and one the Steelers base their offense around…along with a pair of back-ups to the backup RB…and play the same. And, I don’t recall hearing anyone saying the Patriots were going to hand 30 or 40 points on Denver outside of the most homer Patriots fans. Most pundits predicted a New England win, but the VAST majority said it would be close. But keep making stuff up if that’s what you feel is necessary to support your position.

          • T. Kothe

            You’re the one who apparently was paying no attention. And you’re gullible in the extreme if you still believe what Big Ben said about his injury after watching him play in that game. The dude was operating at very close to full strength. Of course, you already proved that you’re gullible by believing the source-less drivel about CHJ’s injury which his play vs the Pats proved was actually a non-issue. As for the RBs, the Steelers netted 23 rushing yards in Week 15 vs 85 rushing yards in the Divisional round…so how, exactly, was their rushing attack weaker the second time around? Yeah, you’re straight-up wrong about that.

            If you didn’t see all the predictions that the Pats would hang 30 or 40 on the Broncos, then you either don’t actually pay attention or are flat-out lying. (I’m leaning toward the latter.) I saw and heard exactly that sort of prediction from a dozen different analysts from a lot of different news outlets. Not to mention the Sports Illustrated 42-17 prediction that made the rounds on Twitter at least two different times.

            I haven’t made a single thing up. I’m sorry, Bill, but uncomfortable truths don’t go away simply because you don’t like them. Try again next time.

          • Bill in CO

            LOL…they will still be out there…please share some links to

            all these 30 and 40+ predictions! I just went looking and didn’t find a single 30+ point blowout prediction…not one. Here’s two links…one from a boston source. Not a single 30+ point prediction in them…

            http://www.nj.com/sports/index.ssf/2016/01/nfl_playoffs_2016_picks_predictions_for_new_englan.html

            http://boston.cbslocal.com/2016/01/22/patriots-broncos-afc-championship-game-predictions/

            But…I’m sure you will share…because they must be plentiful if I’m not “paying attention” or even “lying.” LMAO…

            The Broncos wouldn’t even be playing in a week had the Steelers had a healthy Roethlisberger or a present Antonio Brown. The Harris injury is hardly “source-less” drivel. Why is it….AFTER the Pats game that Adam Schefter is reporting that Elway himself said Harris will be a “game time decision.” Gamesmanship? Perhaps. But since shoulder bruises like Harris had before the Steeler game, that was aggrevated during the Steeler game take 4-6 weeks to fully recover…I’ll lean to the side that there’s more than a bit of truth to the statements of the Broncos themselves. The injury is clearly a problem since Harris himself said that during the Steelers game “I played with one arm the whole game.” However, it sounds like the Stewart injury is at least as significant. All 3 will play or attempt to play…but the entire point of this is none will be 100% and probably not even close. Game times decisions aren’t 100%

        • T. Kothe

          The Panthers’ O-line does well in large part because they use a lot of heavier blocking sets, with six or even seven guys rather than just five. They’ll need to continue doing that against the best pass rush in the league…but can they afford to send out just three receivers most of the time against the best secondary in the league? They’ll have to find a balance there to beat the Broncos’ defense, and that won’t be at all easy to do.

        • anon76returns

          The Panthers receivers are not as good as the Patriots receivers. Outside of Olson I don’t even think they’re as good as the Packers receivers, and the Broncos secondary absolutely blanked the Packers receivers for 5-6 seconds per snap.
          And, as I’m sure a “in CO” guy knows, the Broncos secondary much prefers man coverage situations- it’s their bread and butter, and especially is more favorable for Roby and Webster.

          Not sure what makes you think I would compare the Panthers OL to the Pats- I wouldn’t. The Panthers OL has actually been good this year, especially along the interior. The tackles are very suspect though, and I do expect that Ware and Miller will get their share of pressure on Newton. To put it in PFF terms, the Panthers are the NFL’s 4th best pass blocking unit. The Broncos have played 4 games against teams ranked in the top 5 in pass blocking (@Oak #2, @Cle #3, GB #5, Oak #2), and in those 4 games the Broncos got 14 sacks and 26 hits on 143 pass attempts. That’s either a sack or hit (to say nothing of hurries) on better than 1/4 of the opponent’s drop backs against the best O lines in the league. Most relevant is the game against the Packers, where they registered 3 sacks and 7 hits in only 25 drop backs. The OL was nearly as good as the Panthers, though, like the Panthers, suspect at the OT spots. The QB also has a high degree of mobility & extends plays, and yet the Broncos were able to shut down Rodgers as he had never been shut down in his life.

          • Bill in CO

            The secondary situation for the Broncos is as precarious as it could possibly be. Their best corner is injured with a shoulder injury that has been termed “significant.” Their safeties are a complete mess. Ward has an ankle injury and Stewart has a grade 2 MCL sprain…that the average return time for is 3-4 weeks. They will both play, but they won’t be 100%. When asked about the injury, Stewart will only say he will play….not that he will be “fine” physically. In addition, there is zero depth at the safety position with Bruton and Bolden already out for the season.

            Its also hilarious that seem to be attempting to compare GB’s offensive line and Rogers mobility with the Panther’s OL and Newton’s. GB had one of the worst OLines all year long. Rogers was running for his life every game…and he’s mobile…Cam is a running back playing QB.

          • anon76returns

            The Broncos “precarious” secondary just held the Pats to 4.9 yards per passing attempt, and they’ll be healthier next week.

          • Bill in CO

            Brady threw for 310 yards on 56 attempts. The math on that comes out to 5.5 yards per attempt. So, you need to check your facts, it appears. Also, interestingly enough, that is the same number that the Patriots, a vastly inferior secondary in your mind, I imagine, held Manning to. But the injuries to Ward and Steward happened in that game. They were both playing the week before when Roethlisberger put up 9.1 yards per attempt without his best target.

          • anon76returns

            A sack is a passing attempt that goes horribly wrong. Still an attempt by the offense to pass the ball. Check your own facts, bub.

          • Bill in CO

            LOL…sacks don’t factor into the YPA statistic. They might in your mind, but in the minds of anyone who knows anything about football they are called a “Rushing attempt.” Your 4.9 statistic is correct if you state they gained 4.9 yards per passing “play.” But as the statistic reads for Yards per “Attempt” then it reads 5.5. Thanks for the laugh, though.

    • KAO

      Denver is extremely healthy. Theyve had guys take nicks that make them Q and maybe hold them out a game or two but all their important horses are here and have been for weeks.

    • T. Kothe

      You might not be making that tidbit up, but it isn’t wise to take one tweeted, unconfirmed report from a talking head as gospel either. Frankly, I’d trust the fact that we saw CHJ doing just fine in coverage Sunday as a much better indication of his level of health. Up to and including that 4th & 1 stop where Julian Edelman only needed to twist out of the grip of CHJ’s left arm to convert…and couldn’t do it.

      I see very little reason to think that you’re right in saying it doesn’t sound like any of those three guys will be near 100%. No, CHJ should be very close to it and I expect Ward will be too. Stewart remains to be seen.

  • David Stinnett

    Due to the nature of Denver’s offense, the Panthers defense will steal the show.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Newton and the offense have really made the job of the defense easy the past 2 games by jumping to big early leads and making the opponents one dimensional. Might be more difficult doing that away from their home field but no question the Panthers have the better overall balance.

      • David Stinnett

        I wouldn’t be surprised if Carolina’s defense scored more than their offense. I’d be even less surprised if it scored more than Denver’s offense.

        • T. Kothe

          Calling Denver’s offense as it is currently a giveaway offense might be a bit presumptive. Peyton definitely threw a lot of picks in the early to mid season (1.7/game on average) but he has yet to throw one since returning. If things were the same now as they were in his first stint this season, he’d have thrown 3 to 5 picks by this point (and the Broncos wouldn’t be playing on the 7th). And the coaches in Denver aren’t idiots- ball security’s going to be a big topic in Dove Valley over the next ten days or so.

          • David Stinnett

            Point taken.

        • crashby89

          Dunno, I actually think Peyton might be able to do something against them. They are great but they do lay a lot of zone and attacking a zone is one of the few things Peyton still is able to do. I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see Carolina roll out more man coverage for that reason.

  • Carolina Rich

    I’m callin it 56 points on sb sun- 4 td’s for cam by air and ground, stew for 2 td’s via air and ground(cam may have 5 td’s), 2 td’s by the d!!! Super Bowl record
    #keeppoundin

    • crashby89

      Yeah Carolina is really good and all but that Denver defense will keep it close. Still say Carolina wins, as much as I would like to see Peyton ride out with another ring, but it’s gonna be a close one.

  • Izach

    I can’t really take PFF grades seriously for QBs/WRs when they say they are independent of eachother because just a few years ago it’s was PFF who pointed out that there IS a definite connection between their grades with a a WR/QB combo and the exact same WR with a different QB. They literally admitted they don’t think said WR got Better over night working wih the backup QB, but that the 2nd QBs style was a better fit for the WR, thus literally allowing him to play better.
    So the fact that Cams Receivers (including his TE) played so well has just as much to do with Cam as it does with them. His style resonates with them, if they played with say Brees, Brady P. Manning I would bet the farm they wouldn’t be nearly as good.

    • TheTruth

      your insane Peyton wouldve thrown 65 tds with them in 2013, IF he could run like cam, real 2013 Peyton with those wrs? at least 40 tds.