The Houston Texans and star rookie quarterback CJ Stroud will head to Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend for an AFC South matchup against the Carolina Panthers for the first NFL matchup between the first two picks of the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Texans are 3-point favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook, while the total is set at 43.5.
Texans vs. Panthers, Week 8: Pick against the spread
The Texans enter Sunday’s matchup at 3-3 off their bye week and appear to have found their franchise quarterback in Stroud. The Ohio State product has thrown for more than 1,600 yards and nine touchdowns so far this season but is coming off a start where he threw for just 199 yards against the Saints. One of the biggest reasons for Stroud’s strong start to the season has been the emergence of his wide receiving corp, which has been led by Nico Collins (547 yards receiving) and rookie Tank Dell (324 yards receiving). The Texans revamped defense has played better under new head coach DeMeco Ryans, and hasn’t given up more than 21 points over the last weeks.
And then there’s Young on the Panthers on the other side. Young’s thrown for 967 yards and six touchdowns this season (he missed a week and a half with an injury), but is still searching for his first NFL win. He’s found success throwing to Adam Thielen (509 yards on 49 receptions) but hasn’t really found a connection with anyone else. They also haven’t been able to find much on the ground either, Chuba Hubbard leads them with 242 yards rushing due to injuries to starting running back Miles Sanders (who got a full practice in on Wednesday, FWIW)
The Texans are a talented team with a clear idea and plan on offense, while the Panthers still appear to be figuring it out. I always get a little antsy about betting on rookies on the road, but I think Stroud and the Texans have the talent to put the Panthers away.