NFL

Panthers heavy favorites to take down Texans on Thursday Night Football

Darnold McCaffrey Panthers Texans
Christian McCaffrey and Sam Darnold head to Houston as favorites to beat the Texans on Thursday night.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has a tendency to try and force less-than-desirable Thursday Night Football games down our throats, and Week 3 is no different.

Hey, at least it’s still football.

The 2-0 Carolina Panthers visit the 1-1 Houston Texans for a weeknight primetime matchup where some important questions will hopefully be answered.

For the Panthers, is their hot start legitimate or an illusion?

A season-opening victory over the lowly New York Jets was expected but a resounding 26-7 win over the New Orleans Saints — a team that had just trounced the high-powered Green Bay Packers a week earlier — was not.

Sam Darnold has shown that he can post some solid numbers when he’s surrounded by a franchise that has at least some idea of what it’s supposed to be doing. His first two starts with the Panthers have been solid, completing 68.5% of his passes for 584 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception.

It doesn’t hurt to have Christian McCaffrey in your backfield, though, as the talismanic running back has already posted 324 total yards from scrimmage, which leads the NFL.

But the Panthers’ defense is making just as sizable waves as they rank tops in the league in points and yards allowed. Those numbers are expected to continue against a Texans team that will be without quarterback Tyrod Taylor after he suffered a hamstring injury that could keep him out for up to four weeks.

Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) scrambles away from Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Jordan Elliott (96) at FirstEnergy Stadium.Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Texans will not activate Deshaun Watson to replace Taylor, instead going with 2021 third-round pick Davis Mills. The Stanford product will make his first career NFL start after stepping in for Taylor in Week 2, completing 8-of-18 passes for 102 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in his relief effort.

Needless to say, picking Thursday night’s result should be a no-brainer.

Carolina Panthers (-8) at Houston Texans

  • Panthers Moneyline: -410
  • Texans Moneyline: +310
  • Over/under 43 total points: -110

Odds courtesy of DraftKings

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