Easy Money Thursday Night Football Picks For 9/23/2021
Action Jackson’s TNF Record: 1-3
Goddamn does it feel good to get a win on the board. While I was dead-on right that 40 points was way too low for an under this game (ended up with a total of 59 points scored), I might have given the Washington Football Team a littttleeee too much credit. I refuse to admit that the Giants are actually good, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Either way, I’m not sweating it. It’s still early in the season and tough to get a handle on who’s actually good this year. I’m definitely not beating myself up and losing sleep about it, screaming to the heavens, and destroying a photo of Daniel Jones out of rage. Definitely not doing that at all.
Let’s get into this week’s picks for the matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans and start turning this thing around.
Easy Money Picks For Carolina Panthers @ Houston Texans
When Carolina Has the Ball
Well, well, well. Looks like Sam Darnold was actually good all along, and it was the Jets who were the problem. As a lifelong Jets fan, seeing Sam succeed is bittersweet but incredibly unsurprising. He’s always been a solid QB who got absolutely zero help in New York. And now that he’s surrounded by a solid line and weapons, he’s starting to show signs of the quarterback the Jets took third overall.
I mean, you know he hasn’t completely changed because he’s still making throws like this:
But still. This is the steadiest we’ve seen him in his career. He’s completing passes at a 68% rate (10 points higher than with the Jets). And through two games, he has thrown for nearly 600 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The key to his early success has been a dominant line performance. He's only gotten pressured on 18% of his throws, compared to 27% last year. Paired with a strong early performance from Christian McCaffrey, who has 329 total yards so far, and a receiving attack featuring D.J. Moore and former teammate and noted deep threat Robby Anderson, this is a very balanced offense that has been nearly flawless in their first two games.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that those two games were against the Jets and the Saints, who were missing 8 coaches due to COVID and several key starters to other injuries, like lockdown corner Marshon Lattimore. It’s hard to figure out whether the Panthers are good, they’ve just played bad defenses, or somewhere in between. Thursday’s matchup won’t really answer that question. Houston boasts the most average defense in the NFL right now, ranking #17 in yards allowed and #15 in points allowed. I like the Panthers so far, but I just haven’t seen enough.
When Houston Has the Ball
After a long offseason of Deshaun Watson trade rumors and sexual assault allegations, the big question mark coming into the season was at the quarterback position. Surprisingly, that seemed to be addressed early on, as Tyrod Taylor started off hot in their Week 1 win over Jacksonville with 300+ yards of total offense and 2 TDs. His strong play continued into Week 2, as he nearly singlehandedly kept the Texans in the game against Cleveland early on with a rushing and passing TD, until getting pulled with a hamstring injury late in the 3rd quarter and being replaced by rookie QB Davis Mills. A quick note on Tyrod – this poor guy has lost his job to a rookie QB following an injury for the past three teams he’s been on (Cleveland with Baker Mayfield, the Chargers with Justin Herbert last year, and now with Mills.)
Mills didn’t look horrible against Cleveland, throwing for over 100 yards and a TD. But he’s not exactly Houston’s top choice at the position. To make matters worse, he’ll only have 3 days to prepare to face a vaunted Carolina defense that has been dominating teams this season, ranking #1 in the NFL in yards allowed and sacks. Again, those stats have come against Zach Wilson and Jameis Winston-led teams. But it’s hard to discount just how dominant this team is. Houston will need to lean heavily on Mark Ingram, David Johnson, and the rest of their running game to move the chains and rely on quick, short play-action throws to keep Carolina off balance.
Look, all the signs are pointing to a Carolina. They’re 2-0, both their offense and defense have looked great, and Houston's throwing out a rookie QB on short rest. But something about this matchup just stinks of an upset to me, and honestly, I just don’t know how good the Panthers really are. I think we’ll be looking at a defensive slugfest all night. And while I don’t know if Houston will win, I see them keeping it close until late in the fourth.
I’m taking Houston +8 and under 43. God bless my soul.
Crazier things have happened. Cooks is the clear #1 receiver in Houston, receiving over 1/3 of the targets so far this year, and racking up 14 catches to go along with 210 yards and a TD. The passing game is going to go through him. And don’t be surprised if he breaks loose for an early score.
I love this promo from Caesars tonight. It’s a $50 minimum bet, but you’re guaranteed to get almost all that back in free bets, even if your team loses. Even though I’m telling you to hit the under here, this is the perfect promo to grab the over and go nuts as you watch the free bet dollars pile up.
Happy betting out there tonight. Stay safe and stay up on those bastards in Vegas.