Carolina Panthers vs Houston Texans 24-9 ( F) (Livestream)

It’s an interconference clash on the gridiron to kick off week 3 of the NFL schedule with a contest in the Lone Star State. The Carolina Panthers are on the road as they travel to face the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football. Carolina knocked off New Orleans 26-7 at home Sunday in their previous contest. Houston was beaten 31-21 on the road by Cleveland in their previous contest Sunday afternoon. In the all-time regular season series between the teams, the Panthers hold a 3-2 advantage and have won the last three meetings. That includes a 16-10 road win in the most recent matchup on September 29, 2019.

Carolina Panthers Seek 3-0 Start to Season
Carolina improved to 2-0 on the year as they completely shut down New Orleans at home Sunday. The Panthers look to extend their mark to 3-0 on the season as they travel on a short week here. Against the Saints, Carolina led 7-0 after one quarter and 17-0 at the half. The Panthers didn’t allow the Saints to score until the opening minute of the fourth quarter and came up with key plays on both sides of the ball to get the victory. Carolina held a commanding 383-128 edge in total offense, racked up 28 first downs while allowing just six and controlled the clock by a 38:32 to 21:38 margin. The Panthers recorded a pair of takeaways while committing only one while recording four sacks. Carolina limited Alvin Kamara to just five yards on eight rushing attempts in the contest.

For the season, the Panthers enter week 3 9th in the league in passing offense with an average of 282 yards per game through the air and 21st in rushing offense by grinding out 100 yards per contest. Carolina is 18th in the league in scoring offense as they average 22.5 points per game while they lead the league in scoring defense by allowing 10.5 points per contest. Sam Darnold has completed 50 of 73 passes for 584 yards with three touchdowns and one interception while getting sacked three times this year. Christian McCaffrey leads the ground game as he has run the ball 45 times for 170 yards plus a score. Rookie Chuba Hubbard (eight carries, 10 yards) is the next man up on the depth chart. In the passing game, DJ Moore (159 yards, TD) and McCaffrey (154 yards) each have 14 receptions to share the team lead. Tight end Dan Arnold (five grabs, 61 yards) and Terrace Marshall Jr. (four catches, 95 yards, TD) are the only other players with even 50 receiving yards in the first two weeks of the season. Ryan Santoso was one of two on extra points and hit both field goal attempts with a long of 29 in the opener. Zane Gonzalez is two of three on extra points and two of three on field goal attempts with a long of 42 in week two.

Houston Texans Dealing With Injury Woes
Houston couldn’t build off their season-opening win as they were knocked off by Cleveland on the road Sunday afternoon. The Texans look to bounce back though they are battling some injury issues heading into the short week. Houston led 14-7 midway through the second quarter before allowing Cleveland to tie the game with 1:14 to play in the half. That was part of 17 unanswered Cleveland points that left the Texans down 24-14 after three quarters. Houston climbed within three with 11:32 to play but gave up a nine-play, 82-yard drive that chewed up 5:40 off the clock and ended in a touchdown that gave the Browns a 10-point lead with 5:52 to go. The Texans couldn’t generate any more points and went down in defeat. Houston was outgained 355-302 in total offense, gave up 22 first downs while picking up 17 and lost the time of possession 35:05 to 24:55 in the game. Each team turned the ball over twice in the contest.

Houston has a win on the books but the fact that Taylor may be unable to go is troubling for a team that isn’t overpowering in any facet of the game. Carolina’s defense is leading the league in scoring defense and they have racked up 10 sacks already and have held opposing teams to a 25% success rate on third down after finishing 31st in that category last season by allowing teams to convert 49% of their third down situations a year ago. If Taylor can’t go, you’re sending a rookie in Mills out there with limited offensive weapons to deal with a ferocious Panthers’ defense. Even playing at home can’t overcome that, especially when you consider that Houston can’t rely on the run game as they average just 3.5 yards per carry. Darnold has another good game in his rejuvenation tour and the Panthers improve to 3-0 by rolling here.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers -7.5