Houston Texans vs. Carolina Panthers TNF Week 3 Betting Preview, Odds, and Prediction
Date: Sunday, September 23, 2021
Game Time: 8:20 PM ET
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
TV Network: NFL Network
Houston Texans Record (1-1-0 SU, 2-0-0 ATS)
Carolina Panthers: (2-0-0 SU, 2-0-0 ATS)
After a bright start to their 2021 campaign, the Houston Texans succumbed to their first defeat on the season in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. However, the biggest challenge facing the Texans this week is how to overcome the loss of Tyrod Taylor with a quick turnaround for a Thursday night showdown against the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers, by contrast, are riding the momentum of a two-game winning streak into Week 3. Of all the undefeated teams, the Panthers are the most surprising. Few would have predicted Sam Darnold's start with his new team would go so swimmingly. But there it is.
Lookahead lines had the Panthers installed as the 3.5-point home chalk, but with Taylor ruled out, the line jumped out to +7.5 points. The total opened on 43.5 points but subsequently moved up to 44 points with most market operators.
Houston Texans Odds & Overview
Things have gone from bad to worse for the Houston Texans in a hurry as they face a quick turnaround this week, all the while looking to bounce back from a Week 2 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Tyrod Taylor injured his hamstring during Houston's spirited effort against the Browns and exited in the second quarter. Backup Davis Mills stepped in for Taylor in the second half, but the rookie quarterback was visibly out of his depth, and the Texans succumbed to defeat.
Small consolation though it is, the Texans did cover as the closing +13.5 point road underdogs in the 31-21 loss at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Texans improved to 2-0-0 ATS with an average winning margin of 3 points and a +115-point differential against the spread.
Taylor was ruled out for Thursday's primetime clash with the Panthers soon after Sunday's round of NFL action concluded. Although coach David Culley was noncommittal about the embittered quarterback's status, Deshaun Watson's return isn't likely. Whether that's tactical or not is up for debate. For now, the Texans' fortunes rest on the young shoulders of Mills – a third-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft that probably never dreamed he'd be starting an NFL game this season. Never mind this soon in the term.
Carolina Panthers Odds & Overview
The Carolina Panthers are the surprise package of the 2021 NFL season. Well, they are after going 2-0-0 SU and ATS in the first two rounds. Preseason expectations were low for the Panthers, with head coach Matt Rhule entering his second season in the league and debuting his second quarterback in as many years in Carolina.
The schedule wasn't too daunting for the Panthers in the first few weeks. They opened against the revamped New York Jets and then faced the post-Drew-Brees New Orleans Saints. But that shouldn't take away from the impressive start they've made. Perhaps, the most surprising result was Week 2's win over the Saints, after Sean Payton's side started the season by giving the Green Bay Packers a good butt-kicking.
Surprisingly, the Panthers demolished the Saints in a 26-7 at the Bank of America Stadium. Books tipped the Panthers as the 3-point home underdogs, but they turned the market on its head behind the upset win.
Houston Texans vs. Carolina Panthers Odds
Houston Texans vs. Carolina Panthers Betting Prediction
This is a tough spot for the Texans all around. How well they perform depends entirely on Mills – an unknown, untried and untested rookie quarterback. The first most saw of Mills was during the last two-quarters of Week 2's matchup with the Browns.
It's impossible to assess the rookie's quality on two quarters that he was never really prepared to play. Moreover, he's at a further disadvantage for Week 3 with a short turnaround and a primetime game marking his NFL debut. No pressure, then.
It would be an impressive feat if Mills could keep this game closer than the odds would have it, never mind pulling off the upset altogether. The Panthers may not be world-beaters, but they're on form and riding the momentum of a two-game winning streak into their first road game of the season.
Darnold's debut for the Panthers couldn't be going any better than it is. He's playing with more confidence than ever before, and an injury-riddled Texans side doesn't look likely to unsettle the fourth-year quarterback. But, of course, this positive run may be down to a light schedule. But is this the matchup that's going to prove that observation true? Probably not. Next week that's more likely to happen when the Panthers take on the Dallas Cowboys at the AT&T Stadium.
NFL Picks: Carolina Panthers -7.5 (-110)