The Houston Texans are looking for their first win of the season as they head on the road to take on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. While the Panthers are set at quarterback, the position is more of a question mark for the Texans -- head coach Bill O'Brien named Ryan Mallett the starter this week over Brian Hoyer, though the competition might not be over just yet.
Hoyer won the starting role for Houston going into Week 1 against the , but he was replaced by in the fourth quarter following a disappointing performance. Hoyer went 18-of-34 for 236 yards, one touchdown and two red zone turnovers in the team's 27-20 loss. Mallett fared better in his short debut, completing 8 of 13 passes for 98 yards and one touchdown. O'Brien felt that Mallett brought a "spark" to the team when he entered the game, which helped win him the starting job in Week 2.
The Texans weren't the only team with trouble spots on offense -- Newton and the Panthers' receivers struggled to find a rhythm in their Week 1 win against the . Newton went 18-of-31 passing for 175 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The offense as a whole rushed for just 105 yards, while kicker Graham Gano missed two field goals.
The Panthers' receivers had several dropped passes throughout the preseason, a trend that followed them into Week 1. Ted Ginn led the offense with 54 yards, with close behind at 45 yards and a touchdown. Ginn had an impressive 37-yard reception but also dropped a potential touchdown pass. The receiving corps showed glimpses of big-play ability, but Greg Olsen and rookie Devin Funchess -- who are expected to pick up the slack in Kelvin Benjamin's absence -- only recorded one catch each.
If the Texans are going to reclaim their defensive dominance from last year, they need to make some quick adjustments. Houston's defense did not live up to the preseason hype during the season opener, with the fearsome defensive line notching only two sacks -- both by J.J. Watt, who made one without his helmet. The Texans found it difficult to cover both the running game of Jamaal Charles and deep threats of Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce, leaving at least one option open per play. The secondary also struggled to cover downfield, resulting in three passing touchdowns.
Carolina registered five sacks, one forced fumble and two interceptions by the secondary in Week 1. The defense took a loss early in the game with linebacker Luke Kuechly -- just days after signing an expensive contract extension -- leaving with a concussion. The team stepped up in a big way to finish the game without the Jags rallying, but with Kuechly ruled out for Week 2, the Panthers will need to make player adjustments to fill that void.
This matchup should be a good test for both teams. Will Mallett spark the Texans? Can the Panthers' defense stay strong without Kuechly? Who will be able to bounce back: the Texans' secondary or the Panthers' receivers? We'll find out Sunday afternoon.
How to Watch
When: 1 p.m. ET
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl
Online: NFL Game Pass