NFL Preview: Carolina Panthers @ Houston Texans

THE Carolina Panthers will look to maintain their perfect start to the season when they head to NRG Stadium to take on the Houston Texans.

Things just keep getting worse for the Texans with starting QB Tyrod Taylor out and the impact it’s had on the betting market is curious to say the least.

This line opened around 5.0 on the uncertainty at the QB position for Houston but the adjustment to 8.0 seems excessive, even for a team as poorly rated as the Texans.

Is Carolina the real deal?

Carolina has certainly turned heads with their defensive efforts in the opening weeks of the season and their soft schedule has them very well primed to reach the midway point of the season rivalling the Buccaneers for top spot in the NFC South.

That said, this team hasn’t been tested and while they won’t necessarily be tested here either they still aren’t a proven commodity, and to be laying 8.0 points on the road is a big ask for a road team on a short turnaround.

Their offence has been somewhat vanilla for the most part and I’m not putting too much weight on their two outings this season because of the match up scenarios in each.

While I don’t think they slip up entirely here, I do think there’s a case to be made for Houston keeping this to a one-score game.

Who is Davis Mills?

The Texans will lean on rookie QB Davis Mills out of Stanford.

Mills certainly had his ups and downs last week when coming into the game, but a full week of practice will have him better positioned to make a positive impact and the “downgrade” to him from Taylor is almost zero in my eyes.

Houston’s offensive line is respectable and Mills’ ability to play outside the pocket will also present some challenges for Carolina, who simply don’t have the film on him to accurately assess how the Texans offence will come together in this one.

Market watch

As mentioned, this line tentatively opened around 4.5/5.0 across the marketplace before being moved to 7.5 on the back of the Taylor injury.

The Panthers got some more support early at the number that pushed it to its current price of 8.0 where it’s sat for the past couple days now.

There’s some indication that this may even hit 8.5 so waiting until closer to kick off could be beneficial to Texans backers, but if it doesn’t hit that point the buy-back will almost certainly begin on the home team.

A lot of market support has understandably come in on the Under, with the market currently sitting at 43.0 and still taking money.

Carolina’s defence has certainly done its part in ensuring both their games to start the season have stayed Under the total, but playing an Under in any game involving the Texans is going to be a tough sweat this season – especially when the total is hung as low as the current market.

The Panthers are a good defensive team, but not elite. Their ranking will fall alongside the Cleveland Browns by seasons end and we saw Houston find ways to score on the road in Cleveland last week.

The home side might just be able to hang around long enough in this one to keep their home fans interested. If you play numbers, not sides, this one’s straight forward enough.

Our best bet: Houston Texans +8.0


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