Of the handful of Saturday preseason games, we feature the Texans and Panthers from Carolina. Houston comes into the
season as an NFL futures odds darling while Carolina is perceived to be on their second straight rebuilding season.
NFL odds makers for this preseason game favor the Panthers by -2 ½. While it remains to be seen
which team will play their starters longer, we should get a good look at Cam
Newton’s sophomore swagger and at a Texans' offense that was the equivalent of the walking wounded
Texans couldn’t catch a break last season. Andre Johnson was hurt for most of
the season, Arian Foster was hurt at the beginning of the year, and Matt Schaub
went down near the end. Even though they lost all their offensive threats, Houston
still made it to the playoffs, where they beat the Bengals.
The Texans come into this season as the team with the second best chance to win the AFC - just behind the Patriots, the undisputed favorites. I am very high on Houston this
season. They arguably have the best defense in the NFL, and their offense is
full of weapons, especially in their running game.
Newton broke a lot of rookie records last season, not to mention the single
season rushing touchdown record for quarterbacks with 14. While I don’t see him
getting 14 rushing touchdowns again, Newton is poised for another great season.
projecting lower totals for Newton in 2012, and I couldn’t disagree more. Even
though I think seven or eight rushing touchdowns are more believable for 2012,
I think Newton will remain in the 4,000 yards passing area, and probably throw
for around 25 TDs.
Panthers are stacked at running back, which will be the main reason Newton
won’t match last year’s numbers, but I think he will get close. If Steve Smith
can have another comeback season, and the rest of the Panther’s somewhat unknown
receiving corps can come through, this will be another great building season for
Carolina; might even make them a .500 football team.
The Sharp Pick
though the Texans are a much better team, the Panthers are favored. Seeing as
the Texans already have injury paranoia, I like the Panthers in this one. They
have depth at running back, and unlike the Texans’ depth, they don’t rely on
all three of their guys.
and Arian Foster are key to the Texans. The Panthers have three “starting,”
running backs, and they also have two rookies they will want to get a look at
in the backfield. On top of that, the Panthers have eight rookie wide receivers
on their roster. That isn’t something to brag about, but they will want to get
a look at all of their offensive rookies, which could cause for more chances to
beat the Texans, who at that point will be trying out practice squad guys. I
like the Panthers at home.
Pick: Panthers -2 ½