Breakdowns

Thursday Night Preview: Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans

Here’s a preview of Thursday night’s matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans, courtesy of STAT Stack:

CAROLINA PANTHERS (2-0) @ HOUSTON TEXANS (1-1) 8:20PM (ET)

LINE: CAROLINA -8, TOTAL: 43

ONE THING THAT EVERY FAN NEEDS TO KNOW

No Consistency

Houston Texans starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor left the team’s Week 2 loss vs. Cleveland and has been placed on IR. He was replaced in the game by rookie Davis Mills, a third-round pick out of Stanford, who will now start this game on a short week. Mills will be the 18th different starting quarterback for the Texans since the inception of the franchise 19 years ago. Mills struggled badly last week in relief, completing 8 of 18 passes for 102 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, amounting to a QB rating of 58.1.

The Panthers haven’t exactly been a model of consistency under center, either — Sam Darnold is the 21st different starting quarterback for the team dating back to the franchise’s debut in 1995. Carolina is hoping that the former #3 overall pick is the answer, and so far, the returns have been good. Darnold has completed 68.5% of his passes, while throwing for 584 yards, 3 TDs and one INT — good for a passer rating of 100.5. He’s also led them to their first 2-0 start since 2017, which is the last time the team reached the playoffs.

TRENDS THAT EVERY SPORTS BETTOR NEEDS TO KNOW

Texans Getting Sneaky Action

The public is on the Panthers for this mid-week tilt, which is no surprise; they’re 2-0, they have one of the most electric offensive weapons in the game with RB Christian McCaffrey, and Houston will start a backup rookie QB on a short week. However, despite 72% of the tickets being on the Panthers, the Texans are attracting more money. Action Network is reporting that 59% of the money bet has come in on the home team, and that includes sharp action (pro bettors). This line opened at Panthers -4 when Tyrod Taylor was expected to play but moved to -8 with the news that Taylor was out and Mills would start.

ANALYTICAL ANALYSIS THAT EVERY SPORTS NERD NEEDS TO KNOW

Dream Matchup

As mentioned in the betting trends section, Carolina has the ultimate football weapon on its team: Christian McCaffrey. Despite being a running back, McCaffrey has earned Pro Football Focus’ highest receiving grade through two weeks of the season, 93.3 (out of 100). And, according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, McCaffrey’s 170 rushing yards are the second-most in the league for any RB who faces an eight-man defensive box on at least 35% of his snaps (Derrick Henry, who is also a cheat code, has rushed for 240 yards despite facing an eight-man box on 48% of his snaps). McCaffrey leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage (324) and is second to Derrick Henry in touches with 59, averaging 5.5 yards every time he gets his hands on the ball — which the Panthers try to do as much as possible.

Now, enter the Houston Texans’ defense. Last season, no team in the league allowed more rushing yards to running backs than the Texans at 145.8 YPG — the next closest, Dallas, was at 127.3. For fantasy football players, Houston allowed the second-most fantasy points to RBs in 2020 (only Detroit was worse) and through two weeks this season, Houston sits at fourth-most in the NFL (Lions are the worst, yet again, followed by Seattle and Kansas City). Last week against the Browns, the Texans allowed Nick Chubb to run for 95 yards on 11 carries (8.6YPC) and Demetric Felton, Cleveland’s receiving back, to pick up 51 yards on two catches (25.5YPC), including a TD.

What we have tonight is matchup between the best dual-threat RB in the NFL and the defense that’s the one of the worst at stopping running backs. LET CMC EAT.

This preview was originally published by STAT Stack, a division of STAT Factor. STAT Stack is an email newsletter that provides the most important information on the biggest games in sports. To subscribe to STAT Stack, click here.

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