THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: CAROLINA PANTHERS AT HOUSTON TEXANS

BY ADAM GREENE

We have another Thursday night classic headed our way, he typed sarcastically, as two of the teams I was sure were some of the worst in the league in the preseason meet up only on the NFL Network in Thursday Night Football. Because no one else wants to broadcast the game.

The Carolina Panthers bring their new quarterback and undefeated record to NRG stadium to face off against the Houston Texans and their new quarterback, Davis Mills, who will be making his first NFL start.

This is a storied and historic rivalry going back five whole games. The two teams first met in 2003 with the Texans, in their second year of existence, carving out a 14-10 win over Carolina. The Panthers hold a 3-2 edge all time. They last met back in 2019 with Carolina winning 16-10 in Houston. Under the old NFL schedule, they wouldn’t have seen each other again until 2023, but because of the move to a 17-game slate, this magic happened and now we all have to witness it. Hooray.

CAROLINA PANTHERS AT HOUSTON TEXANS (+7.5, O/U: 43)

Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas

Broadcast: NFL Network

Kickoff: Sept. 23, 8:20 p.m. EST

CAROLINA PANTHERS (2-0)

When the season began, as I mentioned earlier, I was convinced that the Panthers were one of the three worst teams in the NFL. I’m not ready to jump off that trashwagon just yet, but their 26-7 win over the New Orleans Saints last week might get me to at least prepare for a leap. Sam Darnold had a decent game against a real defense, going 26 of 38 for 305 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Christian McCaffrey scared fantasy owners all over the country leaving the field, but it turns out he was just suffering from cramps. He’s good and rushed for 72 yards and a score while catching five passes for 65 yards. Equally as impressive, the Panthers defense sacked Jameis Winston four times and held New Orleans to just six first downs and 128 total yards.

HOUSTON TEXANS (1-1)

As surprised as I am that the Panthers are 2-0, I’m even more shocked that the Texans have won a game, let alone a blow out victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1. They followed that with a respectable performance against the Cleveland Browns, falling 31-21 and did it without starter Tyrod Taylor in the second half. Taylor is out this week and since they’re keeping Deshaun Watson in bubble wrap, that means it’s Davis Mills time in Texas. Against Cleveland, Mills was 8 of 18 for 102 yards, a touchdown and a pick.

THE PICK

One of the most difficult obstacles facing NFL prognosticators like myself is to abandon your preseason notions about each franchise and actually believe what you see. Well, I’m not ready to do that with these two scrubs just yet, but luckily enough, the starting QB situation in Houston makes this an easy one. Which means, of course, it’s probably wrong. Fun fact: While I’ve picked the TNF winner correctly the past two weeks, I’ve yet to nail the spread. So do with that information what you will. Panthers 23, Texans 10

Last week

Straight up: 11-5

Against the spread: 7-9

Season

Straight up: 21-11

Against the spread: 16-16

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