Houston Texans (9-7; 6-9-1 ATS; 6-10 O/U) vs. Carolina Panthers (6-10; 6-9-1 ATS; 7-8 O/U)
NFL Preseason: Wednesday, August 9, 2017 at 7:30pm EST
Line: Carolina -3
The Carolina Panthers and the Houston Texans will kick off their 2017 preseason schedule Wednesday night from Bank of American Stadium in Charlotte, NC. The Texans posted a perfect 4-0 record in their 2016 preseason play, and the Panthers went 2-2 in their preseason action last year.
Tom Savage Takes Over as Starting QB
The Houston Texans head into the 2017 season with a new quarterback at the helm after Brock Osweiler could not get it going last season. Tom Savage will likely take the starting QB role for now, and Deshaun Watson could eventually take over that role at some point this season. Savage comes with several question marks as the 27-year old has only played in five career NFL regular season games. The 6-foot-4 QB has thrown for 568 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception in his five games. Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson, who is fresh off a National Championship with Clemson, is turning heads at training camp. Watson has earned the praise of Bill O’Brien and he should see a good amount of reps in his first taste of the NFL in this matchup. J.J. Watt, who missed 13 games last season with a back injury, has been eased into action during training camp however he has stated he is feeling great. Watt likely won’t play in this contest, and if he does it would only a couple of reps. Will Fuller suffered a broken collarbone during training camp and will be out 2-3 months.
The Texans averaged 17.4 points per game last year, ranking them 29th in the NFL. The Houston defense conceded an average of 20.5 points, good for 11th overall.
Panthers Primed for Bounce Back Season
The Carolina Panthers will be looking for a rebound season after a very disappointing 2016 season that resulted in only six wins. Cam Newton took a step back last year, throwing for just over 3500 yards with a 19:14 TD to INTO ratio after accumulating 35 TD’s in 2015. Newton underwent surgery on his rotator cuff in the late winter and is slowly easing himself back into action during training camp, and likely will not suit up in this contest. Panthers backup quarterback Derek Anderson will see a lot of playing time in this one. Anderson struggled last season, throwing two touchdowns with five interceptions in three games of action, however, he is generally regarded as a strong backup quarterback. The Panthers will be counting on a strong season from wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess this season. Benjamin had a solid season, racking up 971 receiving yards with seven touchdowns, while Funchess only tallied 371 receiving yards. Funchess has looked good in training camp and could be primed for a breakout season. Watch for rookie running back Christian McCaffrey in this contest. McCaffrey was drafted in the first round out of Stanford and is the running back of the future for the Panthers.
The Panthers scored an average of 23.1 points per game in 2016, ranking them 11th overall. The Carolina defense struggled last year, allowing an average of 25.1 points per game, placing them down at 26th in the NFL.
The Houston Texans are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games on grass.
The Carolina Panthers are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games on grass.
I am siding with the Panthers in this contest. Both Derek Anderson and Joe Webb had a strong preseason last year, combining for five touchdowns with only one interception. Overall I feel that Derek Anderson and Joe Webb are better options then Brandon Weedon, and this will mark Deshaun Watson’s first NFL action, so I am not sure what to expect from him. Also, I am expecting to see running back Christian McCaffrey do some damage on the ground, as he is looking very impressive in training camp, and overall I like the Panthers depth at running back.
Pick: Carolina Panthers -3
Both clubs feature several players looking to make a strong impression offensively. Houston will have Deshaun Watson looking to make a big splash and Savage will want to show he is capable of the starting job, and the Texans scored at least 24 points in three of their four preseason games last year. I expect Anderson and Webb to both have a productive night along with running back Christian McCaffrey for the Panthers, and the over converted in three of the four Panthers preseason games last year.