NFL · Thu (9/23) @ 8:20pm ET
|NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas|
Here’s a close look at Thursday night’s week 3 NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and the host Houston Texans.
The odds are provided by FanDuel. And with a retractable roof at the venue, weather will be no factor.
Carolina Panthers (2-0) at Houston Texans (1-1)
- Time: 8:20 p.m. EDT
- Line: Panthers by 8 (43.5)
The skinny: Texans quarterback Davis Mills will be making his starting debut in primetime on short rest against QB Sam Darnold and the upstart Panthers, who lost nine of their last 11 games in 2020.
Facts: For the second time in three weeks Carolina will be facing a rookie QB making his initial start. In Week 1 it was against NYJ’s Zach Wilson in a 19-14 Panthers victory, sacking him six times. Mills is filling for Tyrod Taylor (hamstring), the league’s fourth-rated passer in 2021. Taylor departed last week’s 31-21 loss at Cleveland with the score tied at 14 at halftime. He in turn was filling for Deshaun Watson (to be inactive Thursday) who still is embroiled in sexual abuse lawsuits and still demanding a trade. In Week 2, Carolina held the QB Jameis Winston and the Saints to NFL season lows of six first downs and 128 yards in a 26-7 home victory. That came a week after New Orleans beat Green Bay 38-3. The only time the past two seasons a team was held to six first downs was last year in Denver when the Broncos’ entire quarterback room went under COVID quarantine and a wide receiver off the practice squad, Kendall Hinton, started under (or behind) center against visiting New Orleans. The Saints won 31-3 and Hinton’s wristband from that game is now displayed at the Hall of Fame. Carolina coach Matt Rhule, in his second year with the team, appears to be following a coaching pattern. At Temple (2013-16), his win total improved by at least four games in his second and third seasons. Ditto for his stay at Baylor (2017-19). In 2020, his Panthers were 5-11, so at least a nine-win season would seem to be in the offing. Mills was a third-round draft choice out of Stanford but started only 11 games in college, throwing three INTs in his finale against UCLA. Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey has totaled 324 yards from scrimmage to help make Darnold’s first year with the Panthers an early success.
Panthers Vs. Texans Odds
Analysis: What a tough spot for Mills, especially having to go against a Carolina defense that’s ranked first in the league, allowing 190 yards a game, and with a league-high 10 sacks. It’s going to be rough for rookie head coach David Culley, too, for he’s also working on ultra-short rest for the first time as the man in charge. It’s been seven years since there was such an inexperienced quiniela, so Thursday night expect the expected from a team that entered the season with the lowest expected win rate. And in case Culley opts to yank Mills at some point, his next option is Jeff Driskel, who has a 1-8 career mark as a starter and was just promoted from the practice squad. Chances are no QB artifacts from this game will be headed to Canton.
- Forecast: Panthers 31, Texans 10
- Last week: 9-6-1 ATS, 10-6 SU
- Season total: 19-12-1 (.613) ATS, 22-10 (.688) SU