User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto Racing
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Texans defense healthier for rematch

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

HOUSTON (AP) - The first time Houston faced the Patriots, top cornerback Johnathan Joseph played while still struggling to get healthy, and outside linebacker Brooks Reed sat out with an injury.

Advertisement
That game turned into an embarrassing 42-14 loss to New England. Now both are back to full strength, and the Texans believe that makes their defense much stronger this time around.

``Right now, I can probably say this is the best I've felt all year,'' Joseph said.

He was slowed by a hamstring injury that kept him out the two games before the first matchup against the Patriots.

``Obviously, back then I was good enough to play but I wasn't at my best,'' he said. ``Right now I can say I'm 100 percent.''

Joseph, who often shadows the opponent's best receiver, knows that he and the rest of the secondary will have their hands full. Not only must they deal with New England's wide receivers, but also its tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski didn't play in the first game against Houston.

``They can place the ball on his back side or throw it up top and those guys both have great hands where they can make the difficult catch in traffic,'' Joseph said. ``For us, it will be a task, but I think that we have the guys here that are up for the challenge. It's just about making plays.''

Reed, a second-year player, started 12 games in the regular season. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips called him a ``physical force.''

``He's obviously a good player, but I think just his physicality really helps us as far as our mental toughness overall as a defensive unit,'' Phillips said.

A frustrated Reed had to watch the team struggle against the Patriots and not be able to help out.

``Now, it's a little bit different,'' he said. ``So I'll be out there and try to make plays of my own.''

Reed had a sack last week against the Bengals; he now has at least one in each the three postseason games in Texans history. His best playoff performance came last season against the Ravens when he had 2 1/2 sacks.

Joseph appreciates Reed's versatility.

``He can play the run and the pass, so he's a two-sided guy,'' Joseph said. ``I think he had just experience from last year coming in ... so just having Brooks back and those guys rotating and whatever they're doing up front, I think it just helps those guys from a health standpoint and just being fresh all the time.''

Houston is hoping to build on last week's dominant defensive performance in its 19-13 wild-card win over the Bengals. The Texans limited them to 198 yards, which was the lowest yardage total in the first round of the playoffs, and only 53 before halftime.

They also cleaned up their problems on third down, not allowing Cincinnati to convert any of its nine third-down chances.

This week the Texans know they must get pressure on Tom Brady and make him uncomfortable in the pocket. They'll look to defensive star J.J. Watt to lead that charge. Watt led the NFL with a franchise-record 20 1/2 sacks in the regular season. He also had 107 tackles, including 39 for losses, 16 passes defended and forced four fumbles.

In Watt's rookie season, the Texans lost to the Ravens in the divisional round.

``We were happy to make it as far as we did, but this year, new year, new goals,'' he said. ``Biggest goal of them all, Super Bowl, and this is a big step for us, and we're really excited about the challenge.''

Phillips, who began coaching in the NFL in 1976, believes Watt is clearly the best defensive player in the NFL this season.

``He had the best season ever,'' Phillips said. ``I mean, nobody has had a season like that. Nobody has made that many tackles, that many sacks, that many pass breakups and that many tackles for loss or tackles for no gain in the history of football. Nobody has had a year like that. It's the best I've ever seen, sure.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Mejia: NFC Preseason Wrap
Mejia: AFC Preseason Wrap
Lawrence: Trends to Watch - September
Lawrence: 2014 NFC Season Preview
Marshall: Ravens rising up
Lawrence: 2014 AFC Season Preview
ASA: NFC North Notebook
ASA: NFC South Notebook
Marshall: Philadelphia Hype
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NFL Pro Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NFL Hot Streaks
4-0 L4, 10-2 L12, 13-4 This Year
8-1 Last 9 NFL Run
7-1 L8 Guarantees, +950 This Year
6-0 Guaranteed Play Streak
6-1 L7 G-Plays, 11-5 L16 Picks
5-2 Guaranteed Play Record
NFL Pro Football Expert Sports Picks-
2014 NFL SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 950
James Manos + 850
Bruce Marshall + 630
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
No Games Last Week  
   
   
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
James Manos 76 %
Scott Pritchard 70 %
ASA 67 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 651
Scott Pritchard + 490
The Gold Sheet + 281
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 873
Hank Goldberg + 600
ASA + 200
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
John Fisher + 270
Antony Dinero + 228
ASA + 200
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!