Skip to main content

Know your Foe: Carolina Panthers | Week 8


2007 seems like EONS ago but that was the last time that the Houston Texans beat the Carolina Panthers. 16 years ago, in week two, QB Matt Schuab threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns and future HOF WR Andre Johnson caught seven passes for 120 yards and Schaub's two touchdowns in a 34-21 Texans win. 

Since then? Texans' Ls…lots of them.

2011 - Texans couldn't secure a bye, losing to rookie QB Cam Newton's 4-9 Panthers at NRG Stadium. That Panther team finished 6-10.

2015 - Future MVP candidate Newton pulled off a couple of Houdini acts in a week two win over the Texans in Charlotte 24-17. That Panther team finished 15-1.

2019 - The 1-2 Panthers got a herculean performance from Christian McCaffrey in a 16-10 Texans' loss at NRG Stadium. That Panther team won just three more games in 2019 to finish 5-11, while the Texans made a playoff run.

2021 - On primetime on a Thursday night in week three, the Panthers moved to 3-0 with a 24-9 win over the Texans. That Panther team won just two more times and finished 5-12.

The Texans have not been able to knock off Panthers' teams that were knock-off-able, outside of the juggernaut that was the 2015 Panthers squad. For whatever reason, the Texans have struggled against this franchise so even though the Panthers are 0-6, and coming off a bye week, they seem to have the Texans' number…for the last 16 years anyway.

Number one overall pick QB Bryce Young struggled last time out against Miami, throwing two INT and completing just 52.5% of his passes. Now, not all of that was his fault and neither has it completely been his fault this season. His offensive line and pass protectors have given up 16 sacks in his five starts (he missed the game in Seattle due to injury). He's been running for his life or taking sacks before he can get the ball out of his hands. Young now has a new play caller as OC Thomas Brown has been handed play calling duties for the foreseeable future.

Defensively, the Panthers can't keep anyone healthy, it seems. Even guys that have been productive are fighting through injuries like LB Frankie Luvu. Edge Brian Burns and DT Derrick Brown are two of the best at each player's respective position in the NFL, but the cast has changed so much around them, each and every week, that the defense has struggled to find rhythm and consistency.

With that all being said, it's time to get back on the field and that starts in Charlotte on Sunday. As such, let's get to Know the Texans' Week 8 Foe - the Carolina Panthers

2023 Schedule (0-6)

Week 1 - L @ Atlanta Falcons 24-10

Week 2 - L New Orleans Saints 20-17

Week 3 - L @ Seattle Seahawks 37-27

Week 4 - L Minnesota Vikings 21-13

Week 5 - L @ Detroit Lions 42-24

Week 6 - L @ Miami Dolphins 42-21

Week 7 - BYE

Week 8 - Houston Texans

Week 9 - Indianapolis Colts

Week 10 - @ Chicago Bears

Week 11 - Dallas Cowboys

Week 12 - @ Tennessee Titans

Week 13 - @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 14 - @ New Orleans Saints

Week 15 - Atlanta Falcons

Week 16 - Green Bay Packers

Week 17 - @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 18 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Panthers OFFENSE (in 2023 regular season)

Rushing Yards Per game - 98.0 ypg (23rd in the NFL)

Passing Yards Per game - 196.7 ypg (26th)

Total offense per game - 294.7 ypg (24th)

Turnovers lost - 8 (4 INT, 4 Fumbles lost)

Expected Panthers starting offense for Week 8


RB - MILES SANDERS (missed week six due to injury) or Chuba Hubbard





LT - Ikem 'Ickey' Ekwonu

LG - Cade Mays or CHANDLER ZAVALA (injured last week)

C - Bradley Bozeman

RG - Austin Corbett (designated for return week five, activated for this week)

RT - Taylor Moton

Other Key Offensive pieces

Weapon X - Laviska Shenault (injured, sources say probably not this week)

TE - Tommy Tremble

RB - Raheem Blackshear

WR - Terrace Marshall

Italics - Rookie

ALL CAPS - New to team in 2023

Keys to winning v. the Panthers Offense

1. Growing Pains - Bryce's rookie season has been a mixed bag to say the least. He's thrown six TDs and four interceptions. He's completing 63.2% of his passes and has completed 20 passes every single start. But, his offensive line has him throwing plenty of passes well before he wants or from a position on the field where he doesn't, or shouldn't, throw from. However, there's little question that Young is as talented a passer as any the Texans will see this season. He'll drop down sidearm and stick one into a tight space over the middle of the field. He's creative and slippery from the pocket, but he's still a rookie and there's some things he hasn't quite experienced. So, the Texans must heat him up with four and then get exotic, to a point, on third down to shake the youngster's confidence and acumen.

2. Minnesota Man in Carolina - When Adam Thielen was released from the Minnesota Vikings, there was a thought that his best football was well behind him. He lit up the Texans as a relative unknown back in 2016 and then again in 2020 in the COVID season. But, in 2021 and 2022, he started to show some signs of decline, catching 67 and 70 passes, respectively, after a few years of 95+ receptions. The Vikings thought they could add some youth alongside All-Pro Justin Jefferson and jettisoned Thielen. Well, suffice to say, Thielen is far from finished. He's been a godsend for Young and is on track to catch nearly 140 passes in 2023. What worries me the most is how he can find open areas in zones. He's slippery and smart, crafty and tough, so he'll work the underneath areas well, so the Texans defenders must hug up on him, nudge him, body him and be physical with him in every passing situation. At a minimum, the coverage team must throw off any timing that he has with Bryce Young to allow just one more half second for the pass rushers to get to Young. Speaking of the pass rushers…

3. Puzzle Pieces - The Panthers' OL configuration has been a jumbled mess this year for former Texans OL coach James Campen. The quintet in front of Young has changed, or been altered nearly every single game. He's had as many as eight different starters in front of him throughout this season. With the instability up front, the Panthers are tied for tenth in the league with 19 sacks allowed. The Texans pass rush has generated plenty of pressure (2nd in the league with a 41.9 % pressure rate) but now it's time to get HOME. As I mentioned, Young is slippery and quick and deft with a quick release so he won't make it easy, but it's time to not just win their pass rush reps, it's time for the pass rushers to WIN THEIR REPS, if you get what I'm saying. 

Panthers DEFENSE (in 2023 regular season)

Rushing Yards Allowed Per game - 144.3 ypg (31st in the NFL)

Passing Yards Allowed Per game - 197.8 ypg (9th)

Total offense Allowed per game - 342.2 ypg (19th)

Turnovers generated - 5 (5 INT, 0 Fumble recoveries - Panthers are -3 in TO margin)

Expected Panthers starting defense for Week 8

OLB - Brian Burns



DT - Derrick Brown



ILB - Frankie Luvu (left last week with an injury)

CB - Donte Jackson

S - VONN BELL (injured and missed last week) or MATTHIAS FARLEY or JAMMIE ROBINSON

S - XAVIER WOODS (injured and missed last week) or Sam Franklin Jr

CB - C.J. Henderson

Other Key Defensive pieces





Italics - Rookie

ALL CAPS - New to team in 2023

Keys to winning v. the Panthers' Defense

1. First Degree Burns - I've been doing draft analysis for a long time and I'm not sure that I've ever studied a pass rusher as bendy or twitchy as Carolina Panthers' edge rusher Brian Burns. Future Hall of Famer Von Miller could, can and continues to, scrape shoe tops with his ghost move and play the game inches off the ground. Burns is similar in that regard and that makes him such a challenge for edge protectors for the Texans. Laremy Tunsil is the best pass protector in the league, but he's seen more speed to power guys and not as many slippery rushers like Burns. Laremy has always been able to handle his own, but Burns might create situations where shorter RBs can chip on him as Burns tries to bend to turn the corner. It'll be interesting how the Texans plan to slow Burns down on Sunday.

2. Big D - Panthers' DT Derrick Brown is one of the best interior players in the NFL. Period, end of story. But, it's easy to overlook his greatness just because the Panthers are 0-6 and the run defense has given up a ton of yardage. He'll play from 3-technique out to five technique so on zone runs, it's imperative to hit him with a ton of bodies to occupy him and not let him penetrate to upset the zone path of the RB. He'll slide through after whipping a tackle or guard trying to get to his edge and completely destroy running plays, but teams have either doubled him straight away or run away from him to keep from Brown creating havoc against their run schemes. How the Texans account for Brown is going to be a major key to the Texans' run game success.

3. Safety Dance - The Panthers have been banged up more in the secondary than at any other position. Star CB Jaycee Horn is on IR. The starters at safety Xavier Woods and Vonn Bell have been shelved a few times already this season. They had to bring Matthias Farley up from the practice squad to play alongside Sam Franklin Jr at the safety position against the Dolphins in the Panthers' last contest. Woods did return to practice early this week, but Bell hasn't to this point. Franklin Jr. did make a couple of big plays in their matchup against Miami, breaking up a sure TD to Dolphins star WR Jaylen Waddle deep down the field. Nickel Troy Hill did have a pick six late in that game. As such, it's clear that the Panthers' backup and sub-package cover guys are capable, but can they withstand a diverse offensive attack like the one that the Texans can throw at them for a full 60 minutes? That's a major key in this game - whether the Texans can put the pressure on that ailing secondary throughout the game with both the run and pass.

Related Content