Jerome Miron/USA TODAY

Carolina Panthers' Scoring is Fueled by their Defense

Entering Thanksgiving, the Carolina Panthers was the third highest scoring team, averaging 29.9 points per game. That number will go up after the team scored 33 against the Dallas Cowboys. However, the offense can't take all the credit as the team's defense has done an excellent job of forcing turnovers and putting the offense in position to be successful.

The Carolina Panthers are on pace to break the team record in points scored, set in 1999 when they averaged 26.31 points per game, by averaging 29.9 points per game entering Week 12. That number has now gone up to 30.2 points per game after yesterday's game.

While Cam NewtonJonathan Stewart and Greg Olsen have been a big part of that, the reason this offense has been as successful as they have been is because of the defense's ability to put them in position to score.

After yesterday's three interceptions, the Panthers lead the league in takeaways with 28, 18 of which have been by interception. These many turnovers usually sets up the offense in a favorable position starting their drive. According to Football Outsiders, the Panthers have the third best average starting position for their drive at their own 31.12 yard line, and less than a yard behind the leader the New England Patriots.

Another reason is the fact that the defense is in the Top 10 in forcing three and outs on almost 25% of the opposing offenses' drives according to Football Outsider. By the Panthers' defense stopping teams so quickly, it does not allow them to switch the field and start to win the field position battle. This offense has had the luxury this year of not having to start many drives in the shadows of their own goal posts.

Now the defense certainly can't get all the credit and the offense has been opportunistic in their own right because they are capitalizing on the other team's mistakes by scoring. Sporting Charts has the Panthers leading the league in takeaway points with 103 after yesterday's game. This means that nearly a third of the Panthers' points scored this year (332) have come from a play by the defense.

The past two games the Panthers have really capitalized on turnovers scoring 44 points off of takeaways just in those games. Against the Cowboys yesterday, the defense, with two interceptions returned for touchdowns, actually scored more touchdowns than the offense.

There is a number of reasons to point to why the Panthers have been one of the top scoring teams in the NFL. Yes, Newton has really developed this year and brought his game to another. Yes, the offense is one of the leading rushing attacks in the NFL. However, it has been this defense's ability to force turnovers and put the offense in position to be successful that has been key to their success in 2015.

Twitter @BrandonCroce.

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