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Thursday, December 12, 2013
Newton much scarier at home than away

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has spent the past few months telling everyone the offense isn't all about him.

But at Bank of America, it apparently is a lot about him.

Newton has the second-highest quarterback rating in the league (82.1) at home, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only Denver's Peyton Manning (83.9 at home) ranks higher.

Cam Newton
Cam Newton has the largest differential in his home and road QB ratings of any NFL quarterback.
Newton is ahead of New Orleans' Drew Brees (80.3), who on Sunday night ended Carolina's eight-game winning streak with four touchdown passes en route to a 31-13 rout. Newton is ahead of Seattle's Russell Wilson (79.5), who hasn't lost a home game in two years.

At home, Newton is 5-1, leading the offense to 26.6 points a game -- 30.6 in the five wins. On the road, the record is 4-3 with 19.7 points a game.

So that bodes well for the Panthers (9-4) as they play host to the New York Jets (6-7) on Sunday. That the Jets are allowing 30.6 points a game on the road also favors Carolina.

Maybe all this is why Jets coach Rex Ryan called Newton "one of the scariest athletes" he has ever seen.

But on the road, Newton isn't quite so scary. He ranks 27th in the league with a rating of 39.0. That's a differential of 43.1 from home, by far the largest in the league.

Oakland's Terrelle Pryor has the second-biggest differential (30.6), followed by Chicago's Jay Cutler (29.3) and Geno Smith (28.6) of the Jets.

So why is Newton's differential so stark? His touchdown-to-interception ratio isn't that much different home and away -- 11-to-5 at home, compared to 9-to-6 on the road.

His completion percentage is higher at home -- 65.8 vs. 58.9 -- but not significantly. He has three rushing touchdowns at home and three on the road, and his average yards rushing isn't much different at 41.5 at home compared to 33.7 away.

The difference between average passing yards is less than three yards -- 214.7 per game away to 212.1 at home.

The alarming statistic comes in sacks. Newton has been sacked eight times at home, compared to 28 times on the road. The differential of 20 also is the highest in the league, with Buffalo's EJ Manuel second with 16 more sacks on the road.

Why does Newton become a bigger target on the road?

"Road games are definitely more challenging," left tackle Jordan Gross said. "They're noisy and an environment you're not used to. Maybe we're not protecting as well on the road. Before you told me that I didn't know.

"We're doing the same stuff. I don't have a good answer for you."

Neither did center Ryan Kalil other than pass protection is difficult home and away.

"Obviously, the game plan is not to let the quarterback get sacked," he said. "There's a lot of good teams we're playing. ... As far as quarterback ratings, I don't pay much attention to that. More so, putting points on the board and 'W's' on the schedule."

Coach Ron Rivera had no clear-cut explanation for Newton's statistical difference away from home, either.

"I do know he loves playing on grass," said Rivera, whose team is 1-2 on artificial turf. "I know that. I'm not sure he loves playing indoors. He is very effective outside, and he's been very effective at home, so maybe there is something there to it."

Fortunately for the Panthers, two of their last three games are at home as they attempt to wrap up a playoff bid for the first time since 2008.

That's all Newton and his teammates are focused on, although barring a 3-0 Panthers finish and 1-2 finish by the Saints -- including a loss at Carolina on Dec. 22 -- they will open the playoffs on the road.