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Thursday Night Football Preview: Panthers @ Texans

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Week 3 of the NFL season kicks off tonight at 8:20 Eastern Time as the Carolina Panthers take on the Houston Texans (ESPN). The Panthers are a perfect 2-0 on the season while the Texans come into this game at 1-1. Oddsmakers currently make the Panthers an eight-point favorite over the Texans.

To get you ready for tonight’s matchup, we’ll break down the offense and defense of each team. We’ll also give out a best bet for this game.

Panthers Offense vs. Texans Defense

New Panthers QB Sam Darnold looks like a brand new man now that he’s no longer with the New York Jets. The former USC star has thrown for 584 yards and three touchdowns so far this year. Darnold should be able to find some success against a banged-up Texans secondary.

Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey may be the most dynamic player in all of football and he could have a huge evening against the Texans. The former Stanford superstar continues to burn defenses both in the running and passing game. McCaffrey has already accumulated 170 rushing yards and 154 receiving yards.

Houston’s defense has played pretty well against the run so far this year by only allowing 116 rushing yards per game. This unit has struggled against the pass, however, as they’re giving up 272.5 yards through the air. The Texans’ secondary could be without cornerback Terrance Mitchell and safety Justin Reid for this game as both are listed as questionable.

Texans Offense vs. Panthers Defense

The Texans’ offense has surprised a lot of folks so far this season by averaging 29 points per game. Unfortunately, starting QB Tyrod Taylor was recently placed on IR and will miss at least three weeks because of a hamstring injury. Rookie QB Davis Mills will start in Taylor’s absence. Mills had a nice career at Stanford, but is he ready to lead this Texans team?

Former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram II leads the Houston rushing attack with 126 yards and a touchdown. Look for the Texans to give Ingram plenty of carries to try and take the pressure off the rookie QB. Veteran wideout Brandin Cooks is off to a great start this season with 14 catches for 210 yards and a touchdown.

Carolina’s defense has played superbly through their first two games. They only gave up 14 points to the Jets in Week 1 and limited the potent Saint’s offense to only seven points last week. Outside linebacker Haason Reddick has been a beast so far by registering three sacks!

Our Pick: UNDER 43

We think Carolina wins this game but don’t want to give up the eight points. Laying points on the road in the NFL is usually a losing proposition in the long term. Though we don’t see any real value in either team, we do love the Under 43 points.

The Panthers’ defense is way too stingy to give up more than 14 points to a rookie QB making his first NFL start. The Texans’ defense is stout against the run and should slow down McCaffrey quite a bit. We see this being somewhat of an ugly game with Carolina winning 20-14. Take the Under!

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