If you are the Houston Texans, you do not want to be facing the Carolina Panthers this week. Fresh off a 38-20 victory and looking to move to .500, the Panthers are determined to get their season back on track. Kyle Allen is coming off an outstanding performance, throwing for 261 yards and four touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey is coming off his best game of the season, totaling 188 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown.
The Texans, on the other hand, are 2-1, but all three of their games have been by one possession. The Texans could easily be 3-0, were it not for a time-expiring field goal by Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz in Week One. Houston looks good coming out of Week Three, but the Panthers look better.
How different will the Panthers look today, if any different at all? For one, they will be getting back a good veteran presence in Bruce Irvin, one of the Panthers’ big defensive offseason acquisitions who spent last season with the Falcons. Last year with Atlanta, Irvin recorded three-and-a-half sacks and 13 combined tackles. Irvin has not played a game this year with the Panthers due to a hamstring injury. Irvin returns against Houston, and looks to help bring the Panthers another dominant pass-rush performance.
The Panthers will have the same guys on offense, and same guys on defense. With Irvin’s return, the Panthers should be even more dominant up front today. Speaking up being dominant up front, the Texans have perhaps the best pass-rusher in the league in J.J. Watt. If Kyle Allen wants to have another outstanding week, the Panthers’ offensive line, which has been spotty at times this season, needs to play their best game of the season.
Will Kyle Allen have another great game? I think he will. Against the Texans, I think Allen will throw for at least 200 yards and two touchdowns. I think that Christian McCaffrey, one week removed from an MVP-like performance, will rack up 100 all-purpose yards, adding two touchdowns to his name. Greg Olsen has been productive as of late, and I expect at least 50 receiving yards from him.
The big thing I am looking for in today’s game, however, is for the young, exciting, and much-hyped receiving corps to continue and produce. With speedsters and dynamic playmakers like Ohio State product Curtis Samuel and Maryland product D.J. Moore, the Panthers have plenty of opportunity to make plays through the air. One guy specifically that I want to see step up? Chris Hogan, the two-time Super Bowl Champion who thrived under Tom Brady’s offense in New England. So far this year, Hogan only has 18 yards on two receptions. A guy with his talent is part of a team to be another offensive weapon. The Panthers need to find more ways to get him going.
Panthers fans, Houston is no easy place to play. Especially when your opponent’s offense is led by DeShaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, plus a defense led by J.J. Watt.
How difficult the game may get, I think the Panthers are hungrier for this win, as they are looking to get back to .500. Carolina starts slow, but picks it up. J.J. Watt is limited to one sack, and the Panthers’ defensive line creates problems for Watson all day. Final score: Panthers 34, Texans 20.