It’s not quite the NFL season yet but preseason games? Why not? It’s still football and watching backups, second and third stringers on the field is better than zero games at all. Tonight, we’ll have the Houston Texas and the Carolina Panthers duke it out in what should be a competitive contest. Before that, the Pittsburgh Pirates look to solve Justin Verlander and the rest of the Detroit Tigers in the second of their three-game series at Comerica Park.
MLB World Series News and Previews
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Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Detroit Tigers (7:10 PM ET)
Line: Pittsburgh Pirates (+123) vs. Detroit Tigers (133); total: 9.0 – view all MLB lines
Ivan Nova bounced back from a sorry performance in a 4-2 loss in San Diego on Jul. 29, as he beat the same Padres team, this time at home, five days later, pitching for six frames and allowing just an earned run on six hits in a 10-6 victory. On the season, Nova is 10-8 with a 3.66 ERA. He’ll be countered by former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who is 7-7 with a 4.20 ERA in 23 starts this 2017.
Verlander has been terrific in his last three starts, wherein he’s gone 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 25 total strikeouts. Detroit’s hitters could capitalize on Nova’s struggles at Comerica Park, where the Pirates’ pitcher owns an 8.25 ERA in three starts there. As for Verlander, he is 4-2 with a 3.29 ERA in 11 home starts this season.
Detroit wins, 5-3.
Houston Texans vs. Carolina Panthers (7:10 PM ET)
Line: Houston Texans (+3) vs. Carolina Panthers (-3); total: 36.0 – view all NFL lines
There are a number of reason why you should watch this glorified NFL practice game but none could be bigger than that of the chance to witness the debut of rookie Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Watson, who led the Clemson Tigers to a national title last season in the NCAA, is slated to be the backup to Tom Savage in the regular season but a good showing in the preseason could change head coach Bill O’Brien’s mind. As for the Panthers, they have a high-profile rookie of their own to deploy in this contest.
That’s Swiss knife Christian McCaffrey, who is expected to play a variety of positions in this game. It’s hard to imagine Cam Newton risking injury in a no-bearing game so signal-calling duties will likely be shared by Derek Anderson and Joe Webb. Last season, the Texans led the NFL in scoring defense with just 300.1 total yards allowed per game. The Panthers, meanwhile, were 19th in total offense with 343.7 yards per contest in 2016.
Carolina (-3) wins, but Texans cover.
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