NFL Thursday Night Football Picks: Panthers a Huge Favorite in Houston

  • BetOnline installed Carolina as a 7.5-point road favorite over the Texans on Thursday Night Football
  • The Panthers have the No. 1 defense in the NFL through the first two games of the season
  • Sam Darnold is thriving in Carolina after being freed from Adam Gase and the Jets

The Thursday Night Football brand is in no way trying to shed its reputation for serving up subpar football, cruelly scheduling a matchup between the Houston Texans and the Carolina Panthers in Week 3.

Even though starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor suffered a hamstring injury on Sunday, Deshaun Watson will be inactive for the third-consecutive game, according to Texans head coach David Culley. That means rookie QB Davis Mills will be thrown to the wolves, or in this case, to a Panthers defense that recorded six sacks and 10 QB hits on Zach Wilson in Week 1 before punishing Jameis Winston in Week 2 with four sacks and 11 QB hits.

Before we look at the opening line on the game, here’s where you can find tips and advice for betting on NFL football games.

Thursday Night Football

BetOnlineSpreadMoney LineTotal Points
Carolina Panthers-7.5 (-108)+360Ov 44 (-110)
Houston Texans+7.5 (-112)+290Un 44 (-110)

Texans vs Panthers

Carolina is a 7.5-point road favorite against the Texans on Thursday night despite having to travel on a short week. Advance lines initially had the Texans as 4-point underdogs after Houston’s surprising 37-21 victory over the Jaguars in Week 1, but lines moved quickly to the Panthers direction after Taylor suffered a hamstring injury in a 31-21 defeat to the Browns on Sunday.

Texans coach David Culley made one of the most bizarre decisions you’ll ever see in the loss, declining a Cleveland penalty that would have put his team in good position to pick up a first down and choosing to punt instead. Otherwise, Houston has been surprisingly competent to this point.

Sam Darnold passed for 305 yards and two touchdowns and an interception in a 26-7 home victory over the Saints on Sunday, and it’s hard to see things getting any harder against a Houston team that just gave up 31 points to the Browns.

With a loaded offense that features Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Robby Anderson and rookie Terrace Marshall, the Panthers should pour on the points against the Texans’ talent-poor defense.

UNDER44 points
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Thursday Night Football Best Bets

Bet the UNDER on 44 points. Davis Mills completed just 8 of 18 passes for 102 yards (5.7 YPA) after taking over for Taylor on Sunday. While there’s a danger the rookie QB will turn the ball over and give the Carolina offense a bunch of short-field situations, Houston will be hard-pressed to put up any points. Through two games, the young Panthers defense leads the league in yards allowed per game (190.0), points allowed per game (10.5), sacks (10) and quarterback hits (10).

Panthers to cover -7.5 spread. It’s hard to pull the trigger on this one after the line has already moved more than a field goal in Carolina’s direction, but if Houston somehow wasn’t the “worst team in the NFL” with Tyrod Taylor, they almost certainly are now with Davis Mills under center.

Final Score Prediction: Panthers 28, Texans 9.

Carolina Panthersto cover spread
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Steve Starr

Steve is one of the many Americans who spends Sunday watching football on the couch and gorging on heart-clogging eats. He describes himself as a good father, great dog owner, and mediocre gambler and husband.

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