Here are some facts about the Houston Texans’ defense this season:
** They are the only team not to allow a rushing touchdown.
** They lead the NFL in opponent time of possession at 24:47.
** They lead the NFL in third-down efficiency (26.47 percent).
** They lead the NFL in defended passes with 58.
** They are fourth in the NFL in points allowed per game (17.1).
** They are second in the NFL in 3-and-outs forced: 29
** They are second in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 82.4 yards per game.
In other words, it’s the stiffest challenge Jay Cutler and Co. will face this season.
“A really good defense,” the Bears quarterback said Wednesday during his weekly press conference at Halas Hall. “From top down, the front seven, the secondary is good. They are very well coached. Sound defense. They don’t let up big plays. Tough against the run. Really good on third down. They present a lot of challenges.”
They have stars too.
Defensive lineman J.J. Watt is in the running for Defensive Player of the Year with Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. He has a league-best 10.5 sacks, but it’s his unique ability to consistently bat down passes that has elevated his status. He’s deflected 10 passes, including four which turned into interception returns for touchdowns for the Texans. Watt also has 59 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 21 quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries.
“We have to be aware of where he’s at,” Cutler said. “He lines up in a lot of different positions. I think [Houston defensive coordinator] Wade [Phillips] does a great job of moving him around and using his athletic ability to their advantage.
“We just have to be aware of him up front. We’ve gone against some pass rushers this year, and I thought we’ve done a better than average job, so hopefully we can continue it with him.”
Watt will be a load to handle for the Bears’ interior linemen: guards Chilo Rachal and Lance Louis and center Roberto Garza.
“He’s a big guy, you know,” Garza said of the 6-5, 295-pound Watt. “He can move. He plays with a lot of passion for the game. So it’s good, it will be a good challenge for our guys. We’re looking forward to it.”