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Russell Wilson vs Cam Newton, Part VII: By the numbers

Looking at the past can only tell us so much about the future, until that future turns into the past.

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Three days before the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers faced off on Sunday night, I took a look at the history of Russell Wilson and Cam Newton and their statistical performances when they play against each other's respective defenses. Let’s take a look back and see how they performed against the historical trend and what I was projecting.

Here’s Russell’s final stat line:

Wilson was much more efficient, completing 72% of his passes compared to 63% and 68% historically. He only had 10 incompletions out of his 36 attempts, and at least four were throwaways, with having three straight throwaways in the red zone with goal to go. Converting touchdowns in the red zone is still his bugaboo this year, only converting two of six Sunday night. Regardless, he was still pin point accurate as usual.

His yards per attempt dropped, however, down to 7.7 from the averages of 9.8 and 8.4, but it is still a good number. He would prefer it to stay above eight, but I'm sure he'll take it.

I projected Wilson to throw two touchdowns and one interception. Well, he got one and one, and it should have been one (or more) and none. The interception he threw, he was targeting Jermaine Kearse and was just a flat out terrible decision. It seems as though Wilson has been having those a bit too frequently lately. The defense looked like they were in a cover-1 robber but disguised as cover-two and Wilson didn’t see the safety. However, even if the safety wasn’t there, there were three other defenders around Kearse, and the throw was well behind him.

Wilson also had three sacks, which I thought one of was on him. The one on fourth down was terrible, he needs to at least just chuck it downfield and give someone a shot, rather than taking a sack. That's what Jimmy Graham is for, to bail you out. His final rating was 92, which was 30 points lower than his average has been against Carolina in Seattle, but only eight points lower than his overall average against them.

What we did see from Wilson which was good to see, was that he continued to do damage on the ground for the second straight week. He only ran three times, but gained 29 yards, averaging 9.7 ypc, with the majority of it coming on a scramble. He doesn’t need to run a lot, but if he continues to be selective when he runs and gashes the defense for first downs, it only helps the offense out everywhere else.

Now on to the non-starting QB for the Panthers:

Outside of one big play for 55 yards, which was a great play call by Carolina attacking Steven Terrell, given the situation with Earl Thomas leaving the game, Cam Newton did nothing.

This was Newton’s second-worst performance against Seattle, with his worst coming in Week 5 in 2012. He was held to 14 completions on 32 attempts for 182 yards for a paltry 44% completion rate, gaining 5.7 ypa. He had one touchdown and he should have had at least four interceptions. A minor DPI penalty negated the interception by Steven Terrell, Richard Sherman dropped two, and I’m not even going to mention the other one as I don’t think anyone wants to re-live it. All in all, Newton finished with a rating of 72.7, which is right at what his average has been when he’s played in Seattle.

One thing that was surprising to pretty much everyone yesterday, is that Newton wasn’t sacked one time. He was pressured and harassed all game, specifically by Frank Clark, but his offensive line, which Ron Rivera himself called a disaster, kept him upright throughout the game. However, the Panthers coaching staff gave the line lots of help, continually keeping extra blockers in to block the Seahawks four-man rush. Even though there weren't any sacks, Seattle's rushers were able to still pressure Newton, make him move off his spot, while also keeping him contained. Generally they made him uncomfortable the entire game.

What was more surprising, is what a non-factor Newton was in the run game. He only had three attempts for 12 yards. For the season he only has 68 attempts for 286 yards, averaging 4.2 ypc. He’s now only attempted 50% of his total runs from last year, with only about 45% of the amount of yards he gained last year as well. I don’t know what it is, whether the coaches aren't wanting him to run as much, or Newton doesn’t look to run as much or doesn’t want to get hit, but it’s hindering their offense. If they want to open their offense up, he needs to run more. It’s the same effect when Wilson runs, it only opens up the offense.

The biggest thing about Newton that I noticed in this game was his throwing motion. After being in the NFL for six years, he still has not progressed on his throwing mechanics. He continues to just rely on his athleticism and arm strength, and just chucks it as hard as he can. He has all the tools as we all know, but he could be so much better. He’s only posted a completion percentage of over 60% once, and this year he’s actually regressed and is on track to post the lowest completion percent of his career, at 54.7%.

Hopefully the Panthers will be able to get healthy again, and next year return to their playoff form. That way the Hawks and Panthers can go back to the annual rivalry next year, which will only be in the playoffs if it happens. I have a lot of respect for Carolina, as it feels like they are the younger brother of Seattle.

Hopefully they return to form sooner, rather than later, as they usually make for an entertaining game. Not this time though.