We get another dose of 2017 NFL preseason action come Wednesday night when the Carolina Panthers host the Houston Texans at Bank of America Stadium.
Normally nobody would care about a preseason game, but Wednesday’s contest marks the official start of week one of the preseason schedule and gives us just the second preseason contest of the month.
A step up from the Hall of Fame game, Wednesday’s battle should give us a solid look at both the Panthers and Texans. In addition, it should give us another fun NFL preseason betting opportunity, especially since it’s the only game on the slate.
More preseason action arrives on Thursday and runs through the weekend, but on Wednesday all eyes will be on this contest. Let’s dive in and see if there is anything that can help us place some winning bets:
Texans vs. Panthers Spread
Like most NFL preseason games, this game won’t produce a big spread or a high Total. Starting with the former, Carolina will open things up as the mild favorite at home, per Bovada:
- Panthers (-1.5)
- Texans (+1.5)
It’s a mild surprise to see Carolina as the favorites even though they’re at home, largely because they won’t see star quarterback Cam Newton take the field.
Newton has reportedly been progressing in his rehab from a shoulder issue, and while he won’t suit up against the Texans, he’s fully expected to play during the preseason at some point.
That likely leaves the Panthers in the capable hands of experienced backup, Derek Anderson. Anderson should end up starting on Wednesday night but may have his playing time restricted to allow backups Joe Webb and Garrett Gilbert hit the field
While Newton won’t be playing in this game, Panthers fans can at least get excited to see new prized rookie running back Christian McCaffrey, who has dazzled throughout training camp. Much like Anderson, it’s fair to assume McCaffrey won’t be overused early in preseason play, so it wouldn’t be shocking if Carolina only used the star back for a series or two.
The point here is we can’t know what to expect, as neither team will play their top players for very long with this being their first game of the preseason. The same goes for Houston, who need to figure out who their starting quarterback will be, but also want to keep their key players healthy for the regular season.
Houston’s quarterback battle is without a doubt one of the top storylines in the NFL, as Clemson product Deshaun Watson hopes to win the job going into his first season. It looks like that right goes to Tom Savage at least initially, however, as the Texans will roll with him as their starter going into this game.
Betting on or against the Texans based on Savage starting isn’t the play, however. Savage could see up to a half of play as he tries to earn the starting job, or he could see just a couple of series. Instead, the focus should be on Watson, who figures to be the best quarterback on the field after Savage and Anderson exit.
There is a good amount of talent on both sides of the ball, and that extends to both defenses, as well. That makes for some nice competition and a slow drop-off in talent and impact play, translating into what should be a closely contested game.
That makes picking this game straight up pretty difficult, especially when we don’t have a line at the moment. Due to that, we’re forced to side with the Panthers, who offer value at -1.5 (-105). Ideally, we’re getting more value than that, but they’re at home and they offer the most upside in this spot.
Texans vs. Panthers Total
Looking back on the Hall of Fame game, we were dealing with even less talent and players playing smaller portions of the game, yet we felt pretty confident the Total was too low. That ended up being the case, as even that atrocious game produced 38 total points and hit the Over.
We’re in a better spot with this game, but we get a similarly low Over/Under:
- Over 36 (-110)
- Under 36 (-110)
There is a lot more interesting talent to deal with in this game, while the Hall of Fame game was pretty ugly. Even without Cam Newton, we still get three quarterbacks who have starter ability at the pro level and even a fourth in Joe Webb that has seen NFL starts and is a nice dual threat option.
The talent goes beyond the quarterback position, too. We touched on the young talent at running back on both sides, but starters Lamar Miller and Jonathan Stewart fuel strong running games from either side, as well.
The talent stretches out to wide receiver, where both sides have a strong #1 option and also have some interesting depth. That really lies with the Texans, who should push young guys like Braxton Miller and Jaelen Strong a little harder as they look to make up for the loss of Will Fuller, who is expected to miss a couple of months with an injury.
Needless to say, the young talent and healthy in-game position battles should make for a solid game and ultimately a healthy dose of points. Even if you don’t want to take a side in this game, I think there’s a decent chance we get a few big plays and a decent amount of scoring. Remember, we only need a 20-17 finish to hit the Over here and that might be playing it conservatively.
This is not a tough Total to hit and the line is the same either way we go. The nice thing is it does offer solid value, so if we don’t want to pick a side, the Over feels like the best bet.