Our NFL handicapper breaks down this matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans and reveals a rule to follow for all of your NFL picks this season.
Now that we’ve all seen a week of regular season action and won or lost some wagers, it’s certainly time to overreact to the 60 minutes of football that has been played. The Houston Texans are definitely in this discussion, as they looked positively awful for the first 45 minutes of their game against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 1. So awful, in fact, that starting QB Brian Hoyer was pulled for Ryan Mallett in the 4th quarter. Mallett went on to score two touchdowns in garbage time to make the score closer than it should have been and KC held on to win 27-20.
This has caused quite a stir in Houston, as more than a few fans in the base were clamoring for Mallett to be the starter in week 1. Now they have garbage time stats to back up their argument. But nonetheless, Texans coach, Bill O’Brien is mum over who will start in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers. It could be a bit of gamesmanship, but I don’t think a head coach will pull his starting QB out of fall camp just for one bad start. We’ll look at some tape, breakdown all of the mistakes the rest of the team made, and Hoyer should remain your starter in Week 2.
The Texans defense wasn’t absolutely terrible against the Chiefs though. With the Houston offense turning the ball over multiple times in the opponent’s red zone it is hard to put up good scoring stats. There was obviously a singular mismatch that was taken advantage of as TE Travis Kelce had over 100 yards and 2 TD’s seemingly out of nowhere. Of course, a lot of the reason that the Houston defense looked anything near acceptable was the play of J.J. Watt, who racked up another two sacks on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, Alex Smith, and six of the seven Houston tackles for loss in the game. He will be drawing double teams in Carolina for sure.
The Carolina Panthers won a game that was billed to be a defensive struggle, and the fact that their offensive scoring drives were 14, 12, and 15 plays each is impressive. This led to a 47% 3rd down conversion percentage, which was a point of contention over the offseason. If anything, the Panthers offense left a lot on the table and some receivers (ahem… Ted Ginn) didn’t do themselves any favors by dropping some dimes dropped by Cam Newton – in the end zone no less.
Of course, the story for this game for the Carolina defense is who was likely lost for week 2 against Houston. Luke Kuechly. After suffering a concussion in the second quarter, Luke went to the locker room never to return. He still tied the Panthers in most tackles for the game. So, yes, Kuechly’s absence will be felt on Sunday against Houston. A.J. Klein filled in admirably; however, and the rest of the defense was harassing and disruptive against the Jaguars offense.
When it comes to two teams with flaws I have some tiebreakers that I gravitate too every time. One is the quarterback matchup. A good or at least better than the one they are facing QB can overcome or take advantage of flaws in the other team. I don’t think that Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett are in the same pedigree as Cam Newton, so I have a distinct edge going to the Panthers in this game based on that alone. Given that you will have a subpar quarterback on the road just magnifies this train of thought. I mean, if there is speculation on who the starter will be you don’t have an ideal situation going against a decent defense. I’m taking the Panthers in this one, and taking them right now while I can get -3 NFL odds at Bovada as one of my NFL picks.
NFL Pick: Panthers -3 (-120) at Bovada