Thursday night NFL best bets: Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans

Week 3 of the NFL season kicks off Thursday when the undefeated Carolina Panthers visit the Houston Texans.

The Panthers are 2-0 after shutting down the Saints 26-7 last week. The Texans, meanwhile, are 1-1 coming off a 31-21 loss to the Browns and will be without their starting quarterback.

ESPN betting analysts Joe Fortenbaugh (7-5-1, 2-4 last week), Doug Kezirian (4-4-2, 2-4), Tyler Fulghum (2-6, 2-4) and Anita Marks (51-26, 25-9), sports betting deputy editor David Bearman (4-3-1, 1-1-1), Stats & Information's Seth Walder 9-10 (5-6) and Aaron Schatz (8-3, 3-1) of Football Outsiders have teamed up to offer their best bets.

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook (as of Wednesday).

Carolina Panthers (-8, 43) at Houston Texans

Fortenbaugh: The Carolina defense has yet to gain any national notoriety, but don't let that dissuade you from the fact that this unit is legit. Through two games, the Panthers currently rank first in the NFL in opponent yards per play (3.7), opponent third-down conversions (25%) and scoring defense (10.5 PPG). Sure, one of those performances came against Zach Wilson and the Jets, but the other came against a New Orleans offense that shredded the Packers in Week 1. I see Houston struggling to move the football down the field with consistency in this one.