Carolina Panthers Visit Playoff Bound Houston Texans
Written by Greg Smith – 2011-12 NFL Prediction Record (14-7)
The Carolina Panthers roll into Houston this Sunday as they prepare to square off against the Texans and NFL bettors are eager to capitalize on the results of this game. The Texans have recently secured themselves their first franchise playoff position while the Panthers are looking to make the best of their poor season and prepare for next year. Let’s go through the highlights of both teams to determine the best side for our NFL wagers this Sunday.
While Cam Newton gained a lot of highlight reel time this year his team holds a 4-9 record overall and are 2-4 as the visiting squad to date. Their current power ranking is reflective of this record as the currently sit in the 24th position-up one spot from 25th last week. The Panthers offense actually looks pretty reasonable when we see the statistics in isolation. They currently rank 5th in total yards gained per game, 8th in passing yards gained per game, 5th in rushing yards gained and 11th in points scored per game. However, as we look in more detail at QB Cam Newton’s numbers we see that in addition to slinging the football for a fair number of nice looking throws down the field he also gives up a lot of interceptions. To put it precisely, over 13 games this year Newton has gained 15 TD’s with 16 INT’s to go along with them and a 59.7 % passing completion rate. Indeed, the Panthers recent collapse against the Atlanta Falcons was indicative of their play throughout this season. The Panthers held a healthy lead after halftime only to watch it evaporate as Newton was repeatedly picked off and the Falcons rallied to victory. As Panthers coach Rivera described of Newton, “at times we try so hard to make plays sometimes we get outside of ourselves and try to make it happen.” As the game against the Falcons also illustrated, the Panthers defence is having a poor year as they rank 24th in total yards allowed per game, 19th in passing yards allowed per game, 23rd in rushing yards allowed per game and 29th in total points allowed per game. To compound the Panthers’ problems, they are also the 6th most penalized team in the NFL and could set team records for both the number of penalties and the yardage through penalties. Carolina head coach Ron Rivera has described the upcoming game against the Texans as a useful test to measure which players he should count on keeping around for next year. Obviously this season has not met expectations for the Panthers and they are sifting through their team to figure out what parts should be kept and which parts are to be discarded.
At the other end of the NFL spectrum we have the Houston Texans enjoying their first division title in franchise history. Certainly this team has had its share of struggles this season as player after player have fallen due to injuries. The team as a whole continues to forge forward, currently at an impressive 10-3 record overall, with 5 wins and 1 loss as the home team. The Texans also stand at 9-3-1 ATS this season and are currently listed in the 7th spot (unchanged from last week) on the power rankings. Their recent win over the Cincinnati Bengals was achieved with QB Taylor Yates playing in only his second NFL start and although he certainly has improvements to make showed enough poise and skill to lead his team to a true last minute victory. Looking at the Houston offense statistics in detail they currently stand at 9th in total yards gained per game, 17th in pass yards per game, 2nd in rushing yards per game and 5th in points scored per game. QB Yates has won all three of the games he has played (with two starts) and currently lists 3 TD’s, 1INT and a 54.8 % pass completion rate. While the plan likely was for QB Yates to manage games much more than lead or create (as an individual player) offense, the Texans last game versus the Bengals show that he is capable of keeping plays alive and being an integral part of successful scoring drives. Indeed, much of the shock on the Bengals team was disbelief at being out-played by a third-string rookie quarterback. The Texans defence continues to play its role for team success and is currently ranked 1st in fewest total yards allowed per game, 3rd in fewest passing yards allowed per game, 4th in fewest rushing yards allowed per game and 4th in fewest points allowed per game. Definitely the Texans need a quarterback which can play effectively and occasionally lead successful charges but this team is based around a defence that is built to drain the opposition. While there is some concern that defensive coordinator Wade Philips will miss this Sunday’s game for medical reasons, I believe the defence in still in good coaching hands. In Philips’ place running the defence will be linebacker coach Reggie Herring who was with Philips during his time with the Dallas Cowboys (2008-2010). This being the case I believe Herring to be literally the next best person on the planet other than Philips to step in for the Houston defence. In addition, head coach Gary Kubiak described that he will continue to play his players wisely but for the win as they continue to push for the best playoff positioning possible.
Prediction: Take the Houston Texans -6.5 against the Carolina Panthers (5Dimes.com)
Check out Greg’s past NFL predictions.