If BetOnline patrons were to take an objective view of the Houston Texans, they would say that the team has really tried hard, and been more competitive than many people expected.
A lot of the credit for that has to go to first-year head coach David Culley, who toiled as an NFL assistant for 26 years before getting a chance. He has been put into a difficult spot, left without starting quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has all kinds of legal problems that could keep him out for the entire season.
And now he has lost Tyrod Taylor, who had taken Watson's place. Now a raw rookie has to step into the fire.
Davis Mills was once the most coveted QB recruit in the nation. But he only got to start eleven games for David Shaw at Stanford. Considered to be someone with a lot of "upside," it was assumed that he was going to carry a clipboard as a rookie (taken in the third round, incidentally).
But now he has to pick up the #1 role, which means that even though he's a "developmental" type, he'll have to develop in a hurry.
The Carolina Panthers are, statistically speaking, the best defense in the NFL over the first two games. They are allowing just 190 yards per game, 2.7 yards per rush, 52.5% completions, and 25% in third down conversions.
In other words, Mills has his work cut out for him.
And then there is the resurgent Sam Darnold and Christian McCaffrey to think about, as well as the game plan of Matt Rhule and Joe Brady (the architect of LSU's national championship).
At BetOnline, the Texans are not getting the respect from bettors, as they are underdogs by more than a touchdown:
Carolina Panthers -7.5 (-123)
Houston Texans +7.5 (+103)
Over 43 Points -110
Under 43 Points -110
So how many yards can Mills throw for? In the Thursday Night NFL props, it looks like this:
Over 211.5 Yards -114
Under 211.5 Yards -114
Understand that if he tops this figure, it will be more than half the total yardage Carolina has surrendered. Obviously he is going to have to get some protection. Last week, when he had to come in for Taylor against the Cleveland Browns, he went 8-for-18 for 102 yards. So he'll have to double that, with short preparation time and against a Panther defense that has eight sacks and will prepared to face HIM specifically.
If you're thinking logically about how Culley and offensive coordinator Tim Kelly are going to approach, it would seem likely they will try to control things on the ground as much as possible. And they don't have bad people to do it with, including Mark Ingram (126 yards).
Maybe Mills isn't quite ready to riddle NFL defenses yet. We're going UNDER the total here.
Here's another one, where we evaluate Mills' number of completions:
Over 19.5 Completions -125
Under 19.5 Completions -103
One thing worth mentioning is that this probably represents an opportunity for the Texans and their staff to find out exactly what they might have at quarterback. If Watson is not the future (they may or may not trade him), then somebody has to be.
Would Culley yank Mills if things got really rough? I would say not, although Jeff Driskel, who has started some games in the NFL, has been taken off the practice squad and is the backup.
It's not inconceivable that Mills could complete 20 passes and throw for less than 200 yards. We don't know if they are going it down the field a lot, but the high-percentage pass may be a way for them to complement the ground game. He averaged 5.7 yards per attempt last week.
We may reach this figure, but at -125, is there value in it?
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