Thursday NFL games are weird. Teams playing on three days rest. Players still gimping from the last game. One team has to travel and has practiced only once.
So, the Texans have some things going for them tonight against the 2-0 Carolina Panthers. The short week generally benefits the home team, in the sense that it’s at least a little less gawdawful than it is for the visitor.
NRG will rock. You want Houston to love you? Play like rabid badgers. Through two games, the Texans have been eminently lovable. They get after it. They clearly like each other, They clearly like and respect their new coach. They clearly have fun playing football.
Yeah, Houston can win tonight. If Tyrod Taylor were healthy, I’d pick the Texans. But “if” has no place or meaning in the NFL. Rookie third round quarterback Davis Mills will get his first start. Unfortunately for him, it will be against the league’s hottest defense.
The Texans must protect Mills. Lotsa luck. The Panthers already have ten sacks. That’s tops in the NFL.
The Texans must run the ball effectively, something they did in that opening win against the Jags and failed to do in the tough Week Two loss in Cleveland. But Carolina is giving up just 46.5 rushing yards per game. You guessed it. That’s #1 in the league.
Scoring defense? The Panthers have allowed only 10.5 points per game. Yep. That leads the NFL.
Carolina is plus-4 in takeaway/giveaway margin. I guess they’re slacking. Because that’s only second best in the league.
Fast start? The Panthers get off like top-fuel dragsters. Carolina outscored the Jets and Saints 33-0 in the first half of those games, while outgaining those opponents in first half yards 572-172.
So the Texans will somehow have to avoid getting boat-raced early. That will likely require forcing some turnovers. There’s reason to be encouraged there. Houston has already collected five takeaways, including four interceptions. Those numbers exceed what the Texans posted in the entire 2020 season.
My question is, “Are the Panthers good enough to be 3-0?”
In this case, yes. Carolina 24, Houston 17.