The Houston Texans are hot coming off of the bye week. This is the first time they have been .500 following the bye week since 2019. Ironically, it is also the first time the Texans have entered a game as the betting favorite since 2020. So, this game already has a different feel. It is likely that both C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young were circling this game when the schedules came out last year.
As much fun as a shootout would be, that is probably not how this game goes. I’m sure both coaches in their heart of hearts don’t want to put too much pressure on their young quarterbacks. Moreover, these shootouts rarely work out the way that people think they will. Let’s see if we can guess how the Panthers will actually play.
We utilize PFF scores in this slot because the are a quick frame of reference. Anything over 80 usually reserved for guys that are playing at a Pro Bowl level. Guys that score 70 or higher are starting quality players. Anything below 70 is reserved for rotational players or guys that probably shouldn’t be playing.
Houston Texans Top Five
LB Blake Cashman— 90.3
WR Nico Collins— 88.8
DE Will Anderson— 80.3
CB Steven Nelson— 78.9
WR Tank Dell— 77.2
Seeing two rookies in the top five at this point of the season is the best news yet. C.J. Stroud comes in at above 70 as well. When you have three starting quality players already from the same draft you are in good shape. The last draft is looking better as well as Jalen Pitre is looking better than the did last season.
Carolina Panthers Top Five
WR Adam Thielen— 84.3
S Xavier Woods— 83.7
DT Derrick Brown— 72.6
RB Chuba Hubbard— 71.9
DE Brian Burns— 71.6
When you are a winless there is going to be a limit to the amount of guys you can find on a list like this. The starkest point comes in after the fifth guy. They only have five rotational players with scores 70 or higher. They seem to be evenly distributed between offense and defense, so there is that, but the Panthers are talent poor at this point.
What does the Panthers offense want to do?
The Carolina Panthers are 27th in total offense so far this season. They are 25th in rushing yards and 27th in passing yards. So, they don’t do anything particularly well. Bryce Young is one the lowest rated quarterbacks according to PFF. So, the Panthers don’t have anything they can really hang their hat on. As we saw earlier this week, the Texans are actually better against the run this year than against the pass, so expect to see a lot of Bryce Young and they hope he gets excited and plays his best football.
What does the Panthers defense want to do?
The Panthers are 10th in yards allowed, but of course they have only played in five games as well. They are 29th in yards per play allowed. The hope is that they can shut down the Texans running game, but they are 28th in yards per carry, so it will be interesting to see they will be able to do that. Their 14 sacks in five games is actually middle of the pack, so if they can get the Texans into obvious passing situations they have a chance to get some pressure on C.J. Stroud.
What does the Texans offense want to do?
The Texans have to figure out a way to run the ball consistently. Their offense flows better when it does. It sets up play action and allows them to be able to go down the field for splash plays. It also takes pressure off of Stroud so that he doesn’t have to keep making plays. He has been somewhat lucky in avoiding interceptions and all of his bad throws have come when he feels like he has to make plays. It also can keep the defense off the field. So, it is good all the way around.
What does the Texans defense want to do?
Any time you are playing a young quarterback you really want to put them in obvious passing situations. Then, you can disguise coverages, show different pressures from different spots and force Bryce Young into some mistakes. He has made more of them then we thought he would have. Getting sacks is the only thing the Texans’ defense has not done well this season. It is time to see them get multiple sacks and make some things happen on defense.