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The Cheat Sheet: Do Panthers’ disaster road stats give Lions hope?

Everything you need to know for Panthers vs. Lions Week 11

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Is there any hope left?

For most Lions fans it seems like the answer is a resounding ‘NO!’

But the Lions do have one (albeit tiny) bit of hope heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Ron Rivera’s squad has been a Jekyll and Hyde team at home vs the road this season.

Carolina offensive splits

Stats via pro-football-reference.com

Opponent offensive splits

Stats via pro-football-reference.com

The Panthers offensively have been pretty steady regardless of where they have played. When opponents have at been home, the Panthers defense starts to crumble. Nearly every opponent stat has gone up when the Panthers have played on the road this season. Including massive jumps in completion percentage and quarterback rating.

Whether the Lions can actually take advantage of this fact is an entirely different question to answer.

Opponent snapshot

The Panthers are an interesting team this season. Some weeks they look capable of making a Super Bowl run (see: wins against the Ravens and Buccaneers). And then some weeks they look like a team barely able to compete, most recently against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

New offensive coordinator Norv Turner has brought a refreshed offense this season. He has Cam Newton playing some of the best football of his career. And while the offense has looked superb, the defense has shown signs of weakness throughout the year.

NFL: New York Giants at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers’ biggest threat

Christian McCaffrey

After an up-and-down rookie season, McCaffrey is starting to come into his own. A big reason for that is the Panthers are finally starting to feature him in the offense. Previous to 2017, Carolina never featured a running back with more than 67 percent of the snaps under Ron Rivera.

Right now McCaffrey is averaging 96 percent of the Panthers’ offensive snaps this season. The next closest running back is Ezekiel Elliott, with 89 percent of the Cowboys’ offensive snaps.

McCaffrey will test the Lions both as a runner and receiver. Over the past three games, he’s had seven touchdowns—four rushing and three receiving.

The Lions have given up the most runs of over 40 yards this season (5) and fifth most yards per game (132.7).

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers Phillip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers’ weak link

Pass defense

It’s tough to find a clear weakness on this Panthers team, and the secondary woes mainly come from injuries.

The key stat for the Panthers pass defense comes from their home/road splits. On the road, they are giving up an average of 1.5 more pass yards per attempt than at home. They also have allowed a quarterback rating of 124.2 on the road and just 78.6 at home.

That could be good news for Matthew Stafford and the Lions, who have struggled to generate anything on offense the past three weeks.

Bottom line

So, do these road stats give the Lions any hope?

Nope.

The Panthers haven’t been great on the road this season, but that fact won’t be enough to tilt the game in the Lions favor. Detroit simply isn’t playing well in any phase right now and may not see another win until December games against the Bills and Cardinals.

Prediction

Panthers 27 Lions 13