NFL Week 3 TNF Odds – Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:

If you had to guess the unbeaten teams after two weeks of the NFL season there’s a good chance the Carolina Panthers would not be among them. Winners of only five games last season and in a rebuilding process, the Panthers have surprised a lot of folks, especially with their 26-7 win over New Orleans in Week 2. Carolina was favored on the opening line and that number increased with news that the Houston Texans will be without starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor for Thursday’s game. Instead of turning to Deshaun Watson, the Texans will give rookie Davis Mills his first start. The Panthers soared to a 7.5-point favorite on the NFL betting line to kick off Week 3.

Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans
Date and Time: Thursday, September 23, 2021, 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Opening NFL Odds: Carolina -4.5, O/U 45.5
Panthers at Texans TV Coverage: NFL Network

Odds Analysis

Injuries don’t always impact a betting line. However, when it’s a starting QB that gets hurt and the option on the other end is a rookie making his first start, things can change in a hurry. That’s what we saw for Thursday’s game. The Panthers hit the board laying 4.5-points, but when Taylor was injured and news emerged from Houston that Watson would be inactive, the cash flowed to the visitors pushing the line to Carolina -7.5. For the first time since 2017 the Panthers opened with two straight wins covering the line in both games, and they are 7-0 ATS in their last seven road games. Catching points is going to be a familiar theme for Houston this season. They beat Jacksonville outright in the opener and covered the 13.5-point line in last week’s 31-21 loss to Cleveland. The Texans are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games as an underdog.

Carolina Panthers

Getting out of New York looks like the best thing that could’ve happened to Sam Darnold. He’s led an efficient offense in Carolina completing 68.5 percent of his throws with three touchdowns in two games. He also has the benefit of a healthy Christian McCaffrey in the backfield. The offense struggled last year with McCaffrey spending most of the time on the injured list. He looks a lot like the player who led the NFL with nearly 2,400 combined yards in 2019.

McCaffrey has rushed for 170 yards with an additional 154 yards on 14 receptions. The offense has had its moments but has also stumbled at times. They converted 2 of 3 red zone chances against the Saints and stranded points with a blocked field goal and a turnover. They rank 14th in total offense and 18th in scoring at 22.5 points per game.

The offense doesn’t have to be Kansas City-like with a stingy group of defenders backing it up. The Panthers own the best stop unit in the league ranking first against the run, against the pass and in fewest points allowed. They put on a clinic last week holding the Saints to only six first downs and 128 total yards, the fewest for New Orleans in the Sean Payton era. The tendency would be to take the foot off the gas against a rookie QB, but I doubt that’s going to happen.

Houston Texans

The future of Watson in Houston is bleak. With Taylor missing Thursday’s game this should have been the perfect moment for Watson to make his return. But I guess the damage was already done with Watson’s legal issues and trade request over the summer. So instead of turning to a sure thing the Texans are going with an unknown.

Mills, a third-round pick in the most recent draft, took over for Taylor last week playing the second half. He had decent numbers completing 8 of 18 for 102 yards and a touchdown, but he failed to move the ball consistently and a game that was tied at the break turned into a 10-point setback. Mills is the guy in charge for the time being. The club activated Jeff Driskell from the practice squad to serve as backup.

Mills may end up being a fine player in the league but he is faced with a tough chore in his first start. The passing game will be impacted with injuries to Nico Collins and Danny Amendola, and the Texans could have issues scoring the football against a defense that’s allowing just 10.5 points per game while holding opponents to 25 percent conversion rate on third downs.

Bet Panthers at Texans at BookMaker.eu

There’s a reason why players aren’t crazy about playing on Thursday night. The short turnaround is tough enough, but having to get a new quarterbacked prepped for his first start puts a lot of pressure on Mills. The Texans played well for the first half last week but wilted after Taylor went down. Mills is going to have a tough time and I can see the visitors covering the line.

NFL Score Prediction: Panthers 23, Texans 10

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- Phil Simon, Gambling911.com

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