Houston Texans linebacker Joe Thomas
Houston Texans linebacker Joe Thomas (48) and Houston Texans defensive end Whitney Mercilus (59) in action against the Cleveland Browns during an NFL football game in Cleveland, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Carolina Panthers vs Houston Texans Best Bets/Props, Sept. 23

Patrick Werkmeister

After going 3-0 on Monday Night Football, this Thursday night game is another great opportunity to go undefeated. In this primetime match, second year coach Matt Rhule and the Carolina Panthers take on rookie head coach David Culley and the Houston Texans. In Week 2, the Texans suffered a huge loss of their quarterback Tyrod Taylor in their defeat to the Cleveland Browns. However, the Panthers and QB Sam Darnold have looked spectacular following their rout of the New Orleans Saints. With their outstanding defense and superstar running back Christian McCaffrey, they look primed to make a run for a playoff spot this year. Here’s how things should go down.

DraftKings Promotion

Panthers (-7.5)
The opening line for this contest favored the Panthers by only four and a half-points, but with Houston’s latest injury at QB, they are now seven and a half-point road favorites. Carolina comes into this one with an amazing 7-0 record ATS in their last 7 road games. Although I’m not crazy about the idea of a road team to cover over a touchdown in most instances, the Texans issues at QB plus a short week to prepare make this line very attractive. This week Houston will be going with Davis Mills in his first career start in the absence of Tyrod Taylor. When filling in for Taylor last week, the rookie quarterback also looked like one, where he only threw for 100 yards with an interception. Additionally, Mills won’t get much help from his trio of running backs as the Panthers defense has allowed just 2.7 yards per carry, which is the league’s best. In their tremendous performance against the Saints, Carolina’s defense forced seven three-and-outs and allowed only six first downs. Even if Sam Darnold and their offense haven’t convinced you of their ability, this Panther defense should be able to feast versus this weakened Texans offense. Expect Matt Rhule’s squad to dominate and cover.

Christian McCaffrey Over 83.5 Rushing Yards (-114)
Following a fruitful start to the season, Christian McCaffrey is more than fit to run all over this Texans defense. In the first two weeks, he’s averaged a whopping 23 carries as he is seemingly back to his 2019 form. They should be handing him the ball all night given the condition of Houston’s run defense. The Texans allowed nearly 200 yards rushing on 23 carries last week against the Browns. Despite the stacked running game of Cleveland, McCaffrey is no slouch and will get the same amount of touches if not more this Thursday. Even in his performance against a strong Saints defense, McCaffrey was able to total 140 yards from scrimmage. If he can amazingly manage that amount of yards versus New Orleans, he should have absolutely no problem hitting this relatively small mark against one of the worst defensive units in the NFL. For PPR Fantasy Football leagues, McCaffrey is nearly projected an unbelievable 26 points. Take him to once again run rampant on this run-friendly defense. 

DJ Moore Anytime TD (+150)
Like his running teammate McCaffrey, receiver DJ Moore is also a player who sees a lot of action. Moore has clearly established himself as WR1, whereas his receiving counterpart Robby Anderson serves as a dangerous deep threat. Additionally, he and Sam Darnold seemed to have surely built a rapport with each other in this revival season for the Carolina QB. Last week, he not only logged his first touchdown of the season, but he was targeted 11 times during the game. Against a shoddy Houston defense, they will have plenty of opportunities at getting in the end zone and he will be one of the first guys they look to. In his first two games with the Panthers, Darnold has thrown for nearly 600 yards. He has shown no problem getting the ball down the field and completing passes against tougher opponents, so there should be nothing preventing him from having a great night in this matchup. At +150, this scorer’s prop has remarkable value given his status as a red zone threat. Take DJ to have a day with at least one touchdown vs Houston.

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