Week 3 Thursday Night Football Betting Preview: Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans

Week 3 Thursday Night Football Betting Preview: Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans

Tyler Vaysman
3 years ago
2 min read
Week 3 Thursday Night Football Betting Preview: Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans

Week 3 of the NFL season kicks off with Thursday Night Football, as the Carolina Panthers head to Houston to take on the Texans. The Panthers are off to a 2-0 start this season, while the Texans come in at 1-1. And while the Panthers have been one of the pleasant surprises to start the 2021 season, they will be tested in their first game away from home this campaign.

Carolina Panthers

Carolina has rolled through its first two games this season, beating the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints comfortably to start their season at 2-0. Thus far, it has been the defense that has propelled the Panthers, as they have allowed just 21 points in two weeks of play. But for the Panthers’ season to continue going so smoothly, it is going to be contributions from the offense that will be needed.

Sam Darnold has been solid without being great through his first two games as a member of the Panthers. The return of Christian McCaffrey has certainly helped the Carolina signal-caller, but Darnold and the Panthers will need to show they can move the ball on the road to be taken seriously in the NFC South.

Houston Texans

So far this season, the Houston Texans are 1-1, but they are 2-0 against the spread. Houston destroyed the Jacksonville Jaguars to start the season and played competitively in a losing effort against the Cleveland Browns. This week will be a real challenge for the Texans, though, as an injury to Tyrod Taylor will force Davis Mills to be the starting quarterback with a short week to prepare.

In relief of Taylor last week, Mills completed just eight of his 18 pass attempts, throwing a touchdown and an interception in his limited action. He will need to avoid turning the ball over against Carolina, as their red zone attack with McCaffrey is difficult for teams to stop in sudden change situations.

If the Texans are going to be competitive in this game, the connection between Mills and Brandin Cooks will be a huge part of it. Cooks has been one of the more explosive receiving options in the league through two games. He needs to continue performing at a high level and getting separation to make things easier on his inexperienced new quarterback.

Keys to the Game

A massive key to this game for the Carolina Panthers will be offensive line play. In a winnable game against a team like the Texans, being able to protect the quarterback can help prevent an upset from happening. Unfortunately for the Panthers, former Ohio State lineman Pat Elflein was put on injured reserve this week, with his absence likely to make things more difficult for the Carolina offense as a whole.

For Houston, the key to this game will be simply to keep competing. Dealing with a losing culture and an injury to a quarterback can be demoralizing to a team. But the Texans can stay in this game if they play hard and force the Panthers to beat them with someone other than Christian McCaffrey.

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