Thursday Night Football Predictions Week 3 – TNF Picks & Panthers vs Texans Best Bets

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2021

Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season will feature the Carolina Panthers visiting the Houston Texans in the opening game of the slate on Thursday Night Football.

While the first two TNF matchups of the 2021 season featured two games in which both teams were fairly evenly matched, Week 3 gives us our first mismatch on paper.

For in-depth analysis and extended betting tips for TNF Week 2, read on for the latest installment in the TNF football predictions series.

Thursday Night Football Prediction Week 3

In theory, the Panthers should pummel the Texans, despite the fact that they are playing in Houston. Not only do the Panthers roster excessively greater talent, but they also have the edge coaching-wise compared to the Texans.

Essentially, from the ground up, the Panthers are the superior team, which is reflected in the NFL gameday odds.

This game could get out of hand quickly. If the Panthers jump out to an early two-score lead, the Texans don’t have enough firepower to climb out of the hole and will be playing within a negative game script.

Negative scripts are terrific for fantasy football and spell doom for most of the offensively inferior teams around the NFL — Houston included.

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The key to this game will be Houston’s offensive line and defense. The Panthers pack a young but talented defense, especially along their defensive front.

If Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, and Shaq Thompson can create pressure and get to rookie Texans QB Davis Mills, there will be turnovers to be had, creating additional opportunities for Panthers QB Sam Darnold and his offense to score.

In Sunday’s Week 2 loss to the Browns, Texans QB Tyrod Taylor suffered a hamstring injury and did not return. Since the Texans are playing on a short week, they already ruled out Taylor, which is why Mills is drawing the start.

Speaking of that Darnold-led offense, they are explosive and can drop points in the blink of an eye. Darnold looks like a different quarterback sans Adam Gase and the New York Jets, while his supporting cast is one of the league’s elite.

The Texans will be hard-pressed to contain all-purpose RB Christian McCaffrey, who can beat you as a rusher and as a receiver. And if they try to slow him down, Darnold will lean on his talented trio of wideouts, including D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and hyped rookie Terrace Marshall Jr.

The Texans won’t have an answer for Carolina’s offense. Their best bet will be keeping Carolina’s offense on the sidelines by running the football, but that formula will only work for so long until the Panthers blow the game wide open.

While the Texans managed to keep games close with Taylor under center, Mills, a third-round rookie, will not produce a similar outcome. As we saw on Sunday, the Panthers dismantled the Saints following their impressive win over the Packers in the season opener.

I can only imagine what Carolina’s burgeoning defense has in store for Mills and the island of misfit toys he has around him at skill positions.

The Panthers will handle their business and continue to flourish as the second-best team in the NFC South while, planting their flag as one of best up-and-coming teams in the NFC.

TNF Week 3 Pick: Carolina Panthers 27, Houston Texans 14

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

Christian McCaffrey has been productive in his first two games of the season, but Thursday night’s matchup with the Houston Texans could be massive for the star rusher.

Thursday Night Football Betting Trends for 2021

  • The Over is 2-0.
  • The Underdog is 2-0 Against the Spread.
  • The Favorite is 2-0 on the Moneyline.
  • The Home Team is 2-0.

Thursday Night Football Best Bets Week 3

*Odds and Lines are current as of Thursday, September 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

TNF Best Bet: Panthers -8 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook

The line opened at Panthers -4 at DraftKings Sportsbook. Obviously, this line was blown open because of two factors: The Panthers’ destruction of the Saints and the Tyrod Taylor injury.

However, I would still take the Panthers giving 8 points on TNF. The Panthers defeated the Saints by 19, while the Texans lost to the Browns by 10 in Week 2.

What’s more, the Texans will be rolling out a rookie quarterback in a short week. This spells disaster for a close and competitive game. Eventually, it gets blown open.

I am anticipating a double-digit point victory for Carolina, making this our NFL bet of the day.

  • The Panthers are 7-3 in their last 10 games against the spread and covered in two straight.
  • The Texans are 7-3 ATS in their past 10 games while covering in three straight. However, note that 9.5 of those games were quarterbacked by Deshaun Watson and Tyrod Taylor, not the third-round rookie Davis Mills.
  • The Panthers are 3-1 ATS in their last four matchups facing Houston, covering in three straight.
  • The Panthers are 7-0 ATS in their past seven games on the road.
  • The Panthers are 0-7 ATS in their last seven TNF games.

TNF Best Bet: Under 43 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook

I anticipate the first Under of the year on Thursday Night Football for this Week 3 Panthers-Texans matchup. Both Week 1 and Week 2’s TNF matchups went Over the total.

The Panthers will do their part and bring the points. However, this will be the game in which a young Carolina defense begins to gel and shuts down a Texans’ offense with very little talent outside of Mills, Brandin Cooks, and their stable of slightly above average backs.

The term JAG (just a guy) very much sums of most of the players on Houston’s payroll.

  • The Under is 6-4 in Carolina’s last 10 games, hitting five consecutive times.
  • The Under is 5-5 in the Texans’ past 10 games, hitting in four straight.
  • The Under is 2-2-2 in the past four meetings between the Panthers and Texans, hitting back in their last matchup in 2019.

TNF Best Bet: Panthers Moneyline (-450) at DraftKings Sportsbook

The Panthers will win this game easily. It is a pure mismatch. While the Moneyline opened at (-210), the fallout from this weekend’s games woke Vegas up. Hence, the new Moneyline is set at (-450).

I speak for all bettors with this. Vegas should have stayed sleeping. Hopefully, you took the (-210) when it opened, pre-defining the anticipated lopsidedness of this game.

The best way to play this Moneyline is to parlay it with a prop or the under. This way, you aren’t laying a lot to win a little.

  • The Panthers are 3-1 in their past four meetings with the Texans, winning outright in each of the past three.
  • The Panthers are 3-1 in their past four games, winners of two straight.
  • The Texans are 1-6 in their past seven games. Their only win in that period came in Week 1 of this season.


Anthony Cervino

Anthony Cervino is an NFL Writer and Betting Analyst for The Game Day. He is also a lifelong NFL savant and self-proclaimed league historian. In the industry, Anthony has excelled in both the fantasy football and sports betting space with fantasy his proverbial bread and butter. Anthony has made appearances on SiriusXM, amongst other publications. He is also the co-creator of the FF Faceoff (Faceoff Sports Network) and the FF Faceoff Mental Health Podathon partnered with the Hayden Hurst Foundation. Industry Clout: 15th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for both draft and in-season accuracy (2019) | 8th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for sleepers (2020) | 13th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for in-season accuracy, including 2nd at quarterback and 3rd at tight end (2021).

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