The Texans hope to carry positive momentum forward on Sunday after last week’s thrilling victory against the Chargers in Los Angeles. Their opponent - the Cam Newton-less Panthers, led by former University of Houston quarterback Kyle Allen. Allen played very well last week in leading the Panthers to a 38-20 road win in Arizona.
Trap game? Are the Texans actually good enough to be a team that has anything resembling a trap game? I don’t think they are - at least not yet.
Let’s see how the BRB staff feels about this one:
Tim: Texans 24, Panthers 21.
As Rivers noted, this has all the makings of a trap game for the Texans, and history says the organization is entirely capable, if not likely, of following a big road win up with a disappointing loss at home to a team they’re favored to beat. I choose to believe those kinds of failures will be minimized in the Deshaun Watson Era, especially with Romeo Crennel scheming against a QB making just his third career start in the NFL. I like the Texans to win yet another close contest, with Ka’imi Fairbairn finding some measure of restitution for his bad performance last week.
Chris: Texans 23, Panthers 20.
In addition to Deshaun Watson’s continuing rise, I’m most interested to see how/if the Texans’ offensive line continues to improve in 2019. With three unique OL combos in three weeks, barring injury, the Texans figure to continue moving forward with a starting unit of Laremy Tunsil, Max Scharping, Nick Martin, Zach Fulton, and Tytus Howard. The OL performance against the Chargers last week was the best by a Houston offensive line in I don’t know how long, but will it last?
This sure feels like a dangerous game, but I don’t want to overreact too much to Kyle Allen’s success against the Arizona Cardinals. This one feels like it’s going to be a slog with some tough defense. The Texans win their third consecutive game with the defense forcing a turnover on downs - that’s a trend I’d LOVE to see continue.
BFmf’nD: Texans 27, Panthers 24.
The Texans are an extraordinarily lucky football team. It’s only the fourth week, and we are already playing a second game against a backup QB. The golden rule from 2018 still applies to 2019: you cannot run the ball against the Houston Texans. Just don’t do it, as Derek Watt learned the hard way last week.
Kyle Allen is fine, but he’s no Cam Newton, and RAC tortures young QBs with a myriad of inventive and disguised blitzes.
The Texans’ offensive line will face a much tougher test than they did against the Chargers, as the Panthers will also blitz early and often. I’m still shocked at how the Chargers didn’t send more blitzes on Sunday.
Add the fact that the Texans play down to other teams, and a one score game seems like a requirement for BOB-coached teams. It will be close, but the Texans wind up on top.
Matt Weston: Texans 27, Panthers 23.
Last week the Panthers scored 38 points against a crappy Cardinals defense. The biggest difference is Kyle Allen made the open throws that had been there all season that Cam Newton failed to make. Allen’s expected completion percentage was +9.2%, and Cam Newton’s was -9.3%. The throws had been there all season; Newton was just missing them. Throw in the fact that Newton hasn’t even been used as a rusher, and you are seeing like, what, a 30% offensive improvement in Allen for the injured Newton?
The good news for Houston is they have a tackle match-up they can attack. It’s Taylor Moton and Daryl Williams. Dante Flower had 2 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, and 2 tackles for a loss; Shaq Barrett had 3 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 3 tackles for a loss; and Chandler Jones had 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 quarterback hits. This is where Houston has to win. Just like last week against the Chargers, when they battered a terrible offensive tackle combo of Sam Tevi and Trent Scott and combined for 3 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, and 4 tackles for a loss, they’ll have to do the same in this one. Norv Turner is vertical again. Carolina’s receivers should get open. Watt and Mercilus have to make for it.
I think they do, and ultimately, Houston wins another close football game. I’m picking the Texans because I’m going with Deshaun Watson over Kyle Allen.
Matt Burnham: Texans 24, Panthers 17.
Carolina is going to put the heat on Watson all game. This will be the toughest challenge Houston’s offensive line has had so far this season. Carolina will send blitz packages to confuse and throw Watson off for 60 minutes. It’s tee-off season on Sunday afternoon.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I doubt that Kyle Allen will perform like he did against Arizona. I know Houston’s secondary is basically in shambles, but I think they will contain him well. Much like the Panthers, the Texans will send plenty of pressure, especially on third downs.
The Panthers’ defensive backs can be eaten alive with the arsenal of weapons the Texans have. I expect production from Kenny Stills and Will Fuller more so than DeAndre Hopkins.
Keep Christian McCaffrey away from open space, and the Texans are in good position.
Kenny O.: Texans 28, Panthers 17.
I expect Kyle Allen to have a decent game, but not the 4 TD performance he had against Arizona. The Texans’ defense is much better than Arizona’s, and I expect the tandem of Watt, Mercilus, Charles Omenihu, Brennan Scarlett, and D.J. Reader to get after Allen all game and combine for 4 sacks.
CMC will keep this game interesting and close. He’ll give the Texans fits in the receiving game. When the score is 21-17 Texans in the 4th quarter, I expect Allen to throw an interception and for DW4 to seal the deal with a TD to extend the lead. Texans move to 3-1.
Big prediction: The Hopkins & Fuller duo is due for a big game, and this is it. Those two will combine for 15+ receptions, 200+ yards, and 3 TDs!
Mike: Texans 27, Panthers 20.
While this has all the makings of an H-Town trap game (good opponent missing star QB, Texans coming off an emotional high/win, lots of hype around the team), I think the 2019 identity is past that. Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins and the rest of the team’s leaders are all about finding ways to win. The Panthers lost to Tampa Bay, who is no Houston, and then beat Arizona, which is no Tampa Bay. It’ll be an exciting game with Houston pulling out in the end.
TexanRevJ: Texans 31, Panthers 21.
The big difference in this game is Deshaun Watson versus Kyle Allen. The edge here obviously goes to Watson as he is a proven commodity and one of the best young QBs in the game. Allen made some really nice throws last week against the Cards. His timing and anticipation looked really good. However, he’s going to have his hands full worrying about J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and D.J. Reader (never thought I’d say that).
On the defensive side, I’m expecting to hold CMC in check. The Texans have the tenth-ranked rushing D in the league right now and have looked good against the run this season. The story, as it is every week, will be whether the secondary hold up against an opposing WR corps. The big battle to watch will be Bradley Roby against Curtis Samuel. Roby has played well so far, but Samuel is a shifty slot guy who will challenge him to keep up.
All in all, I think the Texans are the better team. I think this will be the first game this season where we don’t have to hold our breath during the final play and pray for a miracle. Texans win.
If it gives you an especially icy-cold chill to see the Masthead unified in their belief the Texans will win this game, I will tell you - you are not alone.
How do you see this one going, BRB? Please use the comments section below to share your predictions, and above all else - Enjoy the game!