The Houston Texans will host the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football at their NRG Stadium. This will be a very big day for the hosts, as rookie QB Davis Millas starts his first NFL match. Veteran Tyrod Taylor is out, and head coach David Culley decided to throw the youngster into fire straight away. Of course, Deshaun Watson isn’t in any combination, which is the main reason for Culley’s decision. On the other side, Sam Darnold is slowly shutting down all those criticizing him in the last two years. He just might turn out not to be one of the biggest busts in the recent few years, but simply a reflection of the Jets’ poor strategy.
Carolina Panthers (-380) have a perfect chance to open the season with three wins, which is something that nobody hoped for. Many had massive doubts about Matt Rhule’s decision to acquire Darnold and move on from Teddy B, but it turned out to be a fantastic decision, at least for the moment.
Beating the Jets in the opening game isn’t a big deal, to be perfectly honest, but defeating the Saints last week, 26-7, is really impressive, especially after seeing New Orleans dismantling the Packs in Week 1.
Darnold has 584 yards and three TDs with a pick, but he looks far more comfortable than before. In or outside the pocked, the guy who used to see ghosts on the field is doing his job correctly. Christian McCaffrey is back in shape with 324 yards combined in these two matches, meaning that the injury is log gone behind this guy.
Houston Texans (+300) have Tyrod Taylor out for this match, and Davis Mills has to speed up his playbook learning because nobody expected to see him as a starter this early and because the Texans have a short week in this case.
Mills replaced his teammate against the Cleveland Browns and had 102 yards, completing 8 of his 18 passes, for one TD and one pick, which wasn’t that bad at all. However, the Browns won 31-21, and we’ll see if the youngster used this match to adapt to the new circumstances and the pressure he is about to face.
We do expect that Houston’s quite solid RB core steps up here and prove its worth. They have Mark Ingram II, David Johnson, and Philip Lindsay, all the guys who are able to burst and create havoc for the rival’s defense. They will provide a huge relief for Mills, who has two decent targets upfront, Danny Amendola, and Brandin Cooks, who already has 210 yards.
Head to Head Games
These teams played five times in history, and the record is slightly on the Panthers’ side, 3-2. The previous match was in 2019 when Houston hosted the franchise from Charlotte and won 14-10.
The Panthers are the favorites here, and in our opinion, the winners of this one. The spread on them is -7.5, which is a good offer for picking up, especially because of the whole QB situation in Texas. As usual, CMC will be the man in the middle here, while Darnold has solid potential to hurt the Texans’ defense. That is why our final pick here is Carolina with the spread.
Pick: Panthers -7.5
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.