Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- Both of these teams enter Week 8 coming off a bye and hoping for a strong second half to the season with their high profile rookie quarterbacks.
- The Panthers are 0-6 and do not own their 2024 first-round draft pick.
- Texans quarterback CJ Stroud is currently the odds-on favorite to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
- The Panthers run defense has been near-historically bad to start this season, but their pass defense hasn’t been that much better.
- Houston’s defense ranks in the middle of the pack against both the run and the pass but has been playing extremely well lately.
How houston Will Try To Win ::
The Texans have been one of the pleasant surprises to start this NFL season, turning things around faster than almost any outsider was expecting and proving to be a competitive team on both sides of the ball. After a rough start to the year, the Texans defense has rounded into form recently and has held four straight opponents to low point totals. During that stretch, the Texans have a 3-1 record, with their only loss coming on the road thanks to a last-second field goal by the Falcons. That stretch is made even more impressive because it has come against solid competition. The four teams they have faced during that stretch have a combined 15-8 record in “non-Texans” games this season – a 65% winning percentage. This team is quietly playing some of the best football in the league and should be getting healthier as they emerge from their bye week.
During the NFL Draft process, CJ Stroud took many (often unnecessary and unwarranted) shots as people tried to poke holes in his game and question his ability to lead an NFL team. He has answered those questions and put the haters to rest rather quickly to start his NFL career, as he currently ranks 4th in the NFL in yards-per-attempt and 10th in QB rating. He has done this while playing with a receiving corps that was widely regarded as one of the worst in the NFL entering the season and behind an offensive line that injuries have decimated. This week Stroud and the Texans offense get their easiest on-paper matchup of the season against the Panthers league-worst run defense and below average pass defense. Houston has a below-average Pass Rate Over Expectation (PROE) for the season and will likely continue down a similar path in Week 8, as they should have more success on the ground here than they have this year. That being said, their own running game is near the bottom of the league in most metrics, and they are unlikely to totally lean on the running game when Stroud has been so good. Their offensive line is also getting healthier, so their rushing efficiency should improve in this game, and Stroud should have time to make some plays in the passing game. Carolina plays zone coverage at the third-highest rate in the league, and Stroud should have ample time to pick that zone apart. While his pass attempts may be down a bit this week, he will likely be very efficient when throwing it.