CAROLINA PANTHERS @ HOUSTON TEXANS

The 2-0 Panthers travel to Houston for TNF to take on the plucky 1-1 Houston Texans as we kick off Week 3 in the NFL. Carolina impressed in a win over the Saints in Week 2, whilst the Texans pushed the Cleveland Browns close until they lost Tyrod Taylor to a pulled hamstring. Can rookie Davis Mills step up to the plate in his NFL start or, will the Panthers stay perfect through Week 3?

Houston surprised everyone in Week 1 but proved that maybe we shouldn’t have been, as they pushed a much-fancied Browns side close whilst Tyrod was still in the game. His hamstring injury pretty much put paid to any chance of the Texans moving to 2-0. Davis Mills will be under center for the Texans in his first NFL start and faces a tough assignment against one of the NFL’s better defenses through two weeks. 

The unbeaten Panthers impressed everyone last week as they completely outclassed the New Orleans Saints. Their defense held the Saints to their worst offensive performance in the 15-year Sean Payton era, whilst the offense gave a Saints defense, that held reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 3 points, a beating as they posted 26 points and probably should’ve had more! Christian McCaffrey (CMC) has been a pivotal piece during their fast start to the season and he’s been equally used on both the ground and through the air. CMC has had over 20 carries in both games this season as well as 65 or more yards receiving. We’ve always known CMC as a running back who can do it all and it appears the Panthers plan to use him as such in 2021 after he missed the majority of 2020 with injuries. McCaffrey to have over 18.5 rushing attempts & 49.5 yards receiving is 12/5 with Bet365 and we like that as our best bet in this game. 

Interestingly, the Texans have struggled to cover the Tight End position through two weeks. Giving up a combined 18 receptions for 177 yards and a TD to the position in the last two games. With 3 TE’s having 40 or more receiving yards. Dan Arnold is the TE the Panthers use in the receiving game more than any other, having 55 yards on 3 receptions last week, making his U/O 21.5 receiving yards in this one an interesting play, but it’s the Tight End TD market that is interesting me the most. Although Houston has given up a lot of yards and receptions to the TE position, they have only given up a single TD (We are only two games in) and that TD came from Chris Manhertz, a typically inline or blocking TE. Rookie Tommy Tremble plays a very similar role for the Panthers and has impressed in that inline role so far, his offensive snap % doubled from Week 1 to Week 2, so I expect to see him on the field for at least 50% of the snaps the offense take in Week 3 and snap % = opportunity. The aforementioned Dan Arnold is 9/2 to score an anytime TD whilst Ian Thomas, the other inline TE for the Panthers is 17/2. Tremble saw the field more than Dan Arnold did in Week 2 and lined up out wide the same amount of times as Ian Thomas, despite having 30% fewer offensive snaps, yet he’s a huge 22/1 to score an anytime TD with William Hill.

Now before we get too excited it’s worth noting that throughout two games Tremble has yet to be targeted in the passing game but at 6’4 250lbs he makes an ideal Redzone target, and in a game against a defense that has struggled through two weeks defending TE’s we could well see Tremble’s first career reception be for a TD in Primetime and for .25 points we think it’s worth the risk. 

Spread: Panthers -8

Total Match Points line: U/O 42.5

Game Prediction: Panthers 33-0 Texans

Best Bet: Christian McCaffrey over 18.5 rushing attempts & over 49.5 receiving yards @ 12/5 with Bet365 Bet Builder. [0.5]

Longshot: Tommy Tremble Anytime TD @ 22/1 William Hill [0.25]

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