By Tony Piroth – Houston Texans Writer
The Houston Texans welcome the Carolina Panthers to the NRG Stadium in Week 4, and let’s hope that the Texans have the Los Angeles Chargers game still firmly in their mind’s (well, the second half showing at least) however, what will this Sunday’s game against the Panthers hold in store for the Texans?
The most sensible place to start would be, how are the Texans going to contain Panthers Quarterback Kyle Allen, who last week against the Arizona Cardinals, remained the Panthers that the injury to Cam Newton isn’t all as bad as it seems. In his first start of the season, Allen threw passed for 261 yards, 4 touchdowns, while giving up no interceptions on his way to a QB rating of 144.4. With a performance like that, it’s very easy to forget that the 23-year-old previously went undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Speaking ahead of the game, Head Coach Bill O’Brien acknowledged that while he is not Cam Newton, Allen with present the Texans with a different kind of challenge:
“Cam Newton presents a different set of challenges than Kyle Allen, but Kyle Allen played a great football game yesterday, so he presents his own set of challenges,” O’Brien said. “I think that these quarterbacks that are backup quarterbacks right now, they’ve been trained very well, they’re coached very well and then when they get their opportunity, they go in there. You see that around the league.”
If the Texans are to limit the effect that the former Houston Cougars player will have on the game, then J.J. Watt will most probably be the man to thank. Watt was, as he always is, the standout player within the Texans Defensive Line in Week 3 against the Chargers. The five-time Pro-Bowl Defensive End finished the game with two sacks which marked the 25th time he had done so in his career.
The efforts and potential threat of Defensive Tackle D.J Reader cannot go unnoticed either, as Reader, who had a career game last week, with 1.5 sacks and numerous disruptions has the ability to also cause the Offensive Line of the Panthers problems.
Of course, the Texans will be very much depending on their own Quarterback finding his rhythm and coming into this game, Deshaun Watson will be full of confidence. Watson stepped up when it really mattered in Week 3 and proved he can be the guy to get the Texans rolling, the 24-year-old QB passed his way to 351 yards, 3 touchdowns, and gave up no interceptions against the Chargers. This was also the first time he had thrown 300+ yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions in his career, so Watson will be chomping at the bit to put on another show.
This game has the potential for both QB’s to keep the ball rolling but the main topic of interest is clearly the strength of both teams D-Lines. On one side you have Watt and his inform Corner Back Johnathan Joesph, who led the team in tackles (9) and Pass Deflections (2) last week, while on the other you have the ever-present Linebacker Luke Kuechly and his own inform CB Donte Jackson. Kuechly had 10 tackles in the Panthers Week 3 win over the Cardinals and currently leads the NFL in tackles with 36 overall, as for Jackson, he will be going for his third career game with at least two interceptions.
There’s no doubt it’s going to be a tight game, however, I believe the Texans will prevail and do so but being too strong on both sides of the ball for Carolina. It’s clear the Texans have ambitions of making the offseason this year and victory in this game while moving to 3-1 will set them up just nicely.
Score prediction: Carolina Panthers 24 – 27 Houston Texans.
(Feature Photo – Credit: Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle)