Last Updated Sep 21, 2021, 8:00 PM

Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans Predictions, Odds, Picks

Sept. 21, 2021
Michael Crosson
VI Betting Expert

The third week of NFL action will officially kick things off with a compelling inter-conference matchup between the Carolina Panthers (2-0) and the Houston Texans (1-1). Newcomer quarterback Sam Darnold will be looking to lead Carolina to its first 3-0 start since 2015 with a win over Houston this Thursday night.

Score Prediction: Carolina 28, Houston 13

Best Bet: Carolina -7.5

Best Bet: McCaffrey (CAR/RB) Over 45.5 receiving yards

Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans Predictions

After finishing third in the NFC South with a record of 5-11 last year, the Panthers ended up pursuing a new, young signal-caller in Darnold to place alongside Christian McCaffrey at the helm of their offense during the offseason – and it’s played out flawlessly so far, as Carolina currently boasts an impressive 2-0 record since the acquisition.

On the other hand, Houston heads into Week 3 sitting on an absolute quarterback-fiasco, as DeShaun Watson (personal) and Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) are both expected to miss Thursday’s tilt due to their respective issues – leaving the rookie out of Stanford, Davis Mills, in the driver’s seat for the Texans until further notice.

I’ll lay the points with the Panthers’ here, as Carolina’s defense was ferocious against the Saints and Jets to start the year (10.5 PPG) – and I don’t expect Houston to do much better with its third-string quarterback under center this Thursday night.

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Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans Betting Odds

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The Panthers head into Week 3 as a 7.5-point road-favorite over the Texans – comfortably standing as the largest point-total Carolina has been favored by in a matchup this season.

The over-under for Thursday’s affair is currently on its way down from OU 44, which is roughly the same mark that Carolina’s previous pair of low-scoring events opened at (U 45, U 44.5).

Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans Betting Resources

  • Matchup: NFC South vs. AFC South
  • Date: Thursday, September 23, 2021
  • Venue: NRG Stadium
  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • TV-Time: NFLN - 8:20 p.m. ET

Carolina Panthers Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 2-0
  • ATS: 2-0
  • O/U: 0-2
  • ATS - Home: 2-0
  • ATS - Away: 0-0

After New Orleans spanked Green Bay by 35 to open the season (38-3), the Panthers went on to shock the football world in Week 2 – as they hosted that same dynamic Saints squad and thumped them by an ugly 19-point margin to claim their second straight victory (26-7).

So, is Carolina a legitimate threat to compete for the NFC South crown? – Personally, I think it all depends on Darnold. Carolina demonstrated early on this year that it stands as an excellent defensive unit – highlighted by the Panthers’ defense leading the league in total points allowed and yards allowed across the first two weeks of the season (10.5 PPG, 190 YPG).

I still have my reservations about Darnold and Carolina’s offense though – as, despite the Panthers now wielding several of the necessary tools to generate a consistent offensive attack, Carolina still ranks just 18th in scoring and 14th in yards accumulated so far this season (22.5 PPG, 382 YPG).

Houston Texans Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 1-1
  • ATS: 2-0
  • O/U: 2-0
  • ATS - Home: 1-0
  • ATS - Away: 1-0

It’s difficult to place much faith in the Texans this week, as the majority seems to currently recognize Houston as a middle-to-bottom tier defensive unit (26 PPG, 375 YPG) – to accompany the fact that their third-string quarterback is expected to start under-center this Thursday.

Houston still has a glimmer of hope – as unlike last week, Mills will get to prepare for the Panthers with the first-string offense and potentially devise a solid offensive strategy ahead of Thursday’s event.

I wouldn’t bank on anything crazy though, as adequately preparing for Carolina’s defense seems to be a tall task for any NFL quarterback – let alone, a tall task for a third-string rookie making his first career start.

Inside the Stats - Carolina Panthers

  • Record: 2-0
  • Division Standing: 1st - NFC South
  • Points Scored: 45 (18th)
  • Points Allowed: 21 (1st)
  • PS/G: 22.5
  • PA/G: 10.5

Inside the Stats - Houston Texans

  • Record: 1-1
  • Division Standing: 1st - AFC South
  • Points Scored: 58 (8th)
  • Points Allowed: 52 (20th)
  • PS/G: 29
  • PA/G: 26

Key Players to Watch

  • CAR: Christian McCaffrey - RB (45 carries, 170 yards, TD)
  • CAR: Sam Darnold - QB (50/73, 584 yards, 3 TD, INT)
  • HOU: Brandin Cooks - WR (14 catches, 210 yards, TD)
  • HOU: Justin Reid - DB (2 INT, 2 PD, 1 FF)

Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans Betting Conclusion

After carving up the Jets’ secondary for 89 receiving yards on nine catches in Week 1, McCaffrey furthered his outstanding contributions to the Panthers’ passing attack in last week’s matchup against New Orleans – as Carolina’s All-Pro running back caught five passes and racked up 65 yards through the air during his team’s 26-7 win over the Saints.

I’ll take CMC’s receiving yards over here, as McCaffrey has averaged roughly 61 receiving yards per game across his last two seasons in Carolina (19 G, 133 REC) – and personally, I don’t see any reason why that would change with Darnold under center.

Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans Betting Trends

  • Carolina has failed to cover the spread in six straight games when playing on a Thursday.
  • Houston has lost six of its last seven games.
  • Carolina has gone UNDER the point total in five straight games.
  • Carolina has covered the spread in five straight road games.

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