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Cheat Sheet: Steelers at Panthers

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  • Only Jacksonville had a worse winning percentage in one score games than the Panthers. Carolina played in a whopping 11 one score games (only the Chargers appeared in more), but the Panthers only won two of those contests. Obviously, this implies that the Panthers were more competitive in games throughout the season than their final 5-11 record would indicate in Matt Rhule's first season.
  • This team allowed 5.6 yards per play on defense and averaged 5.6 yards per play when they had the ball. Carolina was the only team in the league to break exactly even in this telling metric last year.
  • The Panthers offense only ran 62.1 plays per game last year. Just five offenses ran fewer. Their 10.2 offensive drives per game and 2.19 offensive touchdowns per game were also amongst the worst in the NFL.
  • This will be the ninth straight season that Carolina is forced to start a different left tackle on opening day.
  • Last year, the Panthers never started the same offensive line combination for more than two games in a row. They made 10 different offensive line starting lineup changes in 2020 even though Taylor Moton started all 16 games at right tackle and Matt Paradis started every game at center.
  • Carolina had two wide receivers finish with over 1,000 receiving yards last year, but DJ Moore's 2.23 yards per route run was better than all but 10 wide outs in the league in 2020. Four Panthers players finished the season with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage even though Christian McCaffrey missed almost the entire season.
  • Still, the Panthers only threw 8% of their passes to tight ends. That tied New England for lowest in the NFL.
  • No team in the NFL is using less salary cap capital on the defensive side of the ball than Carolina. But it should be noted that the Panthers not only used their first round pick on this side of the ball this year, but also every single one of their draft picks on defense a year ago.
  • No team gave more snaps to defensive rookies than Carolina last year. In fact, the Panthers went from one of the NFL's oldest teams in 2019 to one of the very youngest in 2020.
  • A very heavy Dime defense in terms of usage, the Panthers used their Base defense on just 4.6% of their snaps. That tied with New England as the least amount in the entire league in 2020.
  • The Panthers kickoff team allowed just seven total returns during the entire 2020 season, the best in the league.
  • Of the 30 fumbles that occurred in Panthers games last year, Carolina recovered 20 of them. That 66.7% of recoveries was the best in the league and extremely unlikely to repeat itself going forward.

Injury Update

N/A for preseason

Series History

1995 was the inaugural season for the Panthers in the NFL with former Steelers defensive coordinator Dom Capers as their first ever head coach. Carolina won seven games that season, which was more than double the wins of any other expansion team until that point. The Panthers went to the playoffs the following season and Capers won Coach of the Year. That year was the first time Pittsburgh met the Panthers, in a game that went Carolina's way in the final game of the regular season. Since then, the Steelers have played Carolina just six more times with Pittsburgh winning all six to make this series 6-1 in Pittsburgh's favor.

Game action photos from the Steelers' fourth preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium

Matt's Most Memorable Moment: 2018: Steelers 52, Panthers 21

The last time these two teams met was a very memorable Thursday Night game at Heinz Field for the entire world to focus in on. Both teams had six wins entering this game, but it was Pittsburgh that advanced to 7-2-1 after racking up 52 points against the Panthers that evening. Both teams ran nearly the same number of plays and possessed the football for nearly the same amount of time, but Ben Roethlisberger was far more effective through the air than Cam Newton, who could also only muster 10 rushing yards. Newton was also sacked five times and, overall, took a beating against Pittsburgh's defense.

Facts from NFL Research

From Matt Williamson???

Key Matchups

  • Steelers LT Chukwuma Okorafor vs. Panthers DE Brian Burns-It is tough to speculate how much these two starters will play in the final game of the preseason. Okorafor was a third round pick in the 2018 draft while Burns was Carolina's first round selection one year later. After using every one of their draft picks in 2020 on the defensive side of the ball, Carolina might be apt to playing their young starters on this side of the ball. And Burns might just be their best defensive player. He is in the process of becoming an elite edge rusher and would be an outstanding challenge for Okorafor before the regular season opener.
  • Panthers WR Terrace Marshall vs. Steelers CB Antoine Brooks Jr.-Marshall was Carolina's second selection in this most recent draft and has been a standout in a Panthers uniform thus far. He can play outside as a traditional wide receiver, but also excels as a slot receiver dating back to his time at LSU. It looks like the Steelers slot corner spot is the last position on defense to really get solidified. Brooks looked like he was set up to be the main guy here, but he has missed the past two preseason games. It will be very interesting to see how this shakes out on Friday night.