NFL betting: Three Panthers-Texans props for Thursday night

·4-min read

Week 3 of the NFL season is here already. Time sure does fly by. We kick things off on Thursday night when the Houston Texans play host to the Carolina Panthers. The undefeated Panthers are currently 8-point favorites at BetMGM.

The Panthers have a chance to prove that they are the real deal on a national stage. The total for the game currently sits at 43 points, meaning oddsmakers are expecting a one-sided and relatively low scoring game. Let's take a look at some player props for the game, all courtesy of BetMGM.

Christian McCaffrey

If you're playing against Christian McCaffrey in fantasy this week, you're probably dreading it. The Panthers running back is an absolute smash spot on Thursday night. McCaffrey is already near impossible to stop, and the conditions are in his favor on Thursday night. 

Through two weeks, McCaffrey has 170 rushing yards, 14 receptions and 154 receiving yards. He's averaging 162 yards from scrimmage per game. He missed all but three games last season, but in 2019 over the course of a full 16 game season, he averaged 150 yards from scrimmage per game. 

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 12: Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after a touchdown against the New York Jets during the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers celebrates a touchdown in Week 1 against the New York Jets. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The Texans currently rank 31st in defensive rush DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. In Week 2, Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb posted 95 rushing yards on just 11 carries against the Texans. Kareem Hunt added another 51 yards on the ground for the Browns. 

We can project McCaffrey for closer to 20 carries, since he's not sharing a backfield with Hunt. This doesn't even account for McCaffrey's prowess as a receiver. 

The current line for McCaffrey's rushing + receiving yards is set at 137.5. Unless he gets banged up or the game is so one sided that the Panthers pull him, I believe McCaffrey goes over this number with ease. 

Brandin Cooks

Brandin Cooks is a bit of a forgotten man around the NFL over recent years. He's bounced around the league and often missed time with injuries. However, when healthy, there's no denying his talent. Cooks is healthy and ready for a huge role on Thursday night. 

Through two games, Cooks has received 21 targets, catching 14 of them for 210 yards and a touchdown. In Week 2 against the Browns, Cooks received a massive 14 targets. Davis Mills entered the game at halftime, replacing the injured Tyrod Taylor. Mills attempted 18 pass attempts and targeted Cooks on 10 of those. Mills' first career touchdown was to Cooks as well. 

Cooks is receiving such a high volume of targets because there's not much else on the Texans offense in terms of pass-catching weapons. It'll be even more desolate on Thursday night with Nico Collins and Danny Amendola out with injuries. The other receiving options on Houston include Chris Conley, Anthony Miller, Andre Roberts, Jordan Akins and Pharaoh Brown. Yikes. 

I don't expect much from Mills in his first career start, and the Panthers defense has been unreal to begin the year. However, volume is king. When the Texans throw the ball, they're likely looking for Brandin Cooks. I'd go over 5.5 receptions on Cooks at +100.

Mark Ingram

Most wrote off Mark Ingram after his dreadful season with the Baltimore Ravens last year, but he's still here. In fact, he's still involved in a very big way. 

Ingram has played just 55 snaps through two weeks of a possible 117, so that's not exactly encouraging. David Johnson is handling most of the receiving work while Phillip Lindsay is mixing in as well. However, on Ingram's 55 snaps, he's rushed the ball 40 times. That's an insane participation rate. 

Ingram carried the ball 26 times in Week 1 in a win over the Jaguars, but that is almost certainly an outlier. However, even in a negative game script against Cleveland, Ingram got the rock 14 times. Through two weeks, the Texans are the most run-heavy team in neutral game situations. 

I don't expect Houston to suddenly turn into a pass-heavy team with a third round rookie making his first career start. Even in a negative game script, I think they'll be cognizant of protecting their quarterback. Ingram has been involved through two weeks, and I like him going over 9.5 rushing attempts on Thursday night.

Stats from Football Outsiders and Pro-Football-Reference.

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