Every week, CBS 17’s Black & Blue Huddle will give you a preview of the Carolina Panthers’ upcoming matchup. We’ll also dive into storylines surrounding the Panthers and the rest of the NFL. This week though, is all about the Panthers.
Kyle Allen’s rise to QB1 of the Carolina Panthers has provided us with a couple of cool storylines.
In 2015, Allen battled with Week 3 foe Kyler Murray for the starting job at Texas A&M.
This week, he’ll go to war against a familiar competitor in Deshaun Watson.
The two quarterbacks were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, coming out of high school in 2013 and competed with one another at the prestigious Elite 11 football camp.
Watson, who ended up signing with the Clemson Tigers before going on to win a national championship, had a very different path than Allen.
The latter endured being benched in college on his way to an undrafted free agent deal with the Panthers.
But Allen acknowledges that Watson’s success didn’t comes without its own hurdles.
“You can look at Deshaun’s situation like that, how he’s always been on the rise,” Allen told reporters Wednesday. “But then you can go back and look at how he grew up and his childhood and all the adversity he faced in there, which puts my adversity I faced in college to nothing.”
History shows it’s not where you start, but more about where you land or finish. The two are now NFL starting quarterbacks, despite the journey it took for both to get there.
Now, fresh off of an impressive Week 3 performance over the Cardinals in his native state of Arizona, Allen gets to start again in another place near and dear to him — Houston, Texas.
Allen, who spent two years as quarterback of the Houston Cougars, spoke to reporters about what it means to go back.
“I’ve got people in the area, not as much as Arizona, obviously, but it’ll be cool to go back into Houston,” Allen said. “Developed a lot as a football player there. It’ll be cool to go back and play.”
The Scottsdale, Arizona native had it all going for him playing 45 minutes from home in Week 3, passing for 261 yards and four touchdowns against the Cardinals. More importantly, he took care of the ball as he didn’t throw any of his 26 pass attempts to the other team.
This week against the Texans, Allen will be tasked with wiggling around a front-seven who are among the NFL’s best in sacks (10) to this point in the season.
Fortunately for Allen and Panthers pass-catchers, the Texans secondary remains their weakness, as it has been for quite some time. The Texans rank 23rd in total pass yards surrendered. Two quarterbacks, Saints QB Drew Brees and L.A.’s Phillip Rivers, both passed for over 300 yards. Jaguars QB Garner Minshew had a solid game in his own right.
This should be an area where Allen and the Panthers should have no problem exploiting.
Allen has already developed a rapport with running back Christian McCaffrey and tight end Greg Olsen caught a team-high 6 passes for two touchdowns.
I don’t think Allen will have another near-perfect performance — because lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place — but he’ll still turn in a solid performance. I’m thinking something in the range of three touchdowns, one interception, and a 300-yard game.
The Texans offense, on the other hand, has been playing well — particularly with their backs against the wall. Watson just seems to elevate his game when it’s most on the line, and he won’t quit despite playing behind a horrible offensive line.
For the record, it is pretty sad we’ve had to watch quarterbacks like Watson be stripped of even better performances due to having to run for their lives all game. Hopefully the Texans smarten up and revamp the entire offensive line for Watson, sort of like the Colts did with Andrew Luck, before it’s too late — like with Luck.
This may be another game where we’ll see Watson have to make plays with his legs, as the Panthers pass rush is hot and coming off of an eight-sack performance against the Cardinals. The team also gets veteran pass rusher Bruce Irvin, as he’s making his season debut so times could be even tougher for Watson.
The Panthers defense has given up a good amount of points as it ranks near the middle in points allowed (14th, 23.3 points allowed per game), but yardage wise, they have been pretty stingy. Only three other teams have given up more yards per game and rank second in passing yards allowed per game.
Their rushing defense is a bit leaky, but the Texans do not have a formidable threat coming out of the backfield. Running back Carlos Hyde has put up decent performances, but he’s still without a 100-yard rushing game on the season. Scat-back Duke Johnson has always been more of a pass-catching threat, which feeds into the Panthers’ defensive strengths.
Panthers running back McCaffrey was recently named FedEx Player of the Week and looks to be getting similar opportunities to flex his versatile muscles, despite the quarterback change.
We could see another Player of the Week-type performance from McCaffrey, depending on what the game calls for.
He’ll be game for at least seven to 10 receptions and may also get 20 more carries. If he makes those carries productive, McCaffrey should reach the 100 rushing yard mark for the 7th time in his career. Unfortunately, the Panthers are only 2-4 when McCaffrey achieves triple digits on the ground.
I’m predicting a close one with the Panthers coming out on top by a touchdown or less. For fun, let’s envision the Texans down six with the ball at the end needing a touchdown to tie and presumably win on an extra point. Expect the Panthers defense to step up and get that final stop they need to even out their record at 2-2.
My prediction: Panthers 27 – Texans 21
The Panthers (+4) will take on the Texans at 1 p.m. Sunday.
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