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Texans defense looks to outplay vaunted Bears group


In the national buildup to Sunday night's showdown between the 7-1 Texans and Bears, there seems to have been a lot more talk about the Chicago's defense than Houston's.

The Bears' defense is on a historic pace in turnovers and touchdowns through eight games, but the Texans' defense actually has been better overall statistically.

The Bears allow 318.9 yards per game, which ranks sixth in the NFL. The Texans allow 285.6 yards per game, which ranks third.

The Bears allow 230.9 passing yards per game (16th). The Texans allow 203.8 (fourth). The Bears allow 88.0 rushing yards per game (sixth). The Texans allow 81.9 (second).

The Bears edge the Texans in scoring defense, allowing 15.0 points per game (second). The Texans allow 17.1 (fourth). Both teams have 25 sacks, tied for third in the league.

Where the Bears have a decided edge is in turnovers. They lead the league with 28, twice the amount of the Texans' 14, which ranks sixth. The Bears also have seven defensive touchdowns, four more than the Texans' three and more than any team in NFL history through eight games. Cornerback Charles Tillman has two interceptions and a league-leading seven forced fumbles, including four last Sunday against Tennessee.

"They're all getting the ball out," Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said. "It starts with 33 (Tillman). He popped quite a few out last week. To have 28 in eight games is incredible. Some teams wish for that in two years."

Where the Texans have a decided edge – aside from overall passing defense – is in passes defensed, particularly from their front seven. The Texans lead the league with 58 passes defensed. The Bears are tied for third with 53.

The Texans have gotten 26 passes defensed from their defensive linemen and linebackers. The Bears' front seven has tallied 16. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks, has 10 passes defensed alone. Five of the Texans' tipped passes have resulted in interceptions. The Texans have the lowest opponent completion percentage (54.5) in the NFL.

"When you count all those knockdowns, that makes a big difference," Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "They could've been completions, and certainly bouncing them up in the air and getting (five) interceptions is really, really something special. That's something special that we do and do well."

Phillips tells his players every week that if they play better defense than the other team, the Texans will win. This week is no different – except for the fact that the defense the Texans are going against is one of the best in the league, one that has gotten a lot more attention than their own this week.

"Wade installs in us to be the best," defensive end Antonio Smith said. "When we came into this season, that's what our goal was. We know who this (Bears) defense is. We know what they are, and we know that it's going to be us against them. We take it like that, each and every game.

"You'd be lying to yourself if you didn't say this game is more than any other game because this game, we're playing a defense that is up there. They've had the reputation of being the number one defensive team for years. We've got to go take that if we want it. If not, then just let them be what they are.

"If we want to be the number one defense, we've got to outplay them."

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