McDaniels talks up Texans' defense

The New England Patriots will face a Wade Phillips-coached defense for the first time in five years next Monday night when they host the Houston Texans, who sit atop the AFC.

In his Monday conference call, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels explained what makes one of the NFL's more recognizable defensive coordinators hard to play against.

"Any defense that he goes to has always been a big challenge for us or any other team. This one certainly isn't any different," McDaniels said. "This is an aggressive team that plays physical, tough defense."

The Texans have the NFL's second-best run defense, allowing just 87.6 yards per game on the ground, but McDaniels pointed out some of their other accolades, as well.

"They're in the top five of fewest points allowed. They're certainly a good situational football team. Third down, red zone defense is excellent. They've created turnovers and put a lot of pressure on the quarterback," McDaniels said.

One of the Texans' top performers this season has been defensive end J.J. Watt, who ranks second in the NFL with 15.5 sacks.

"He's a great player, wherever they line him up. They'll move him a little bit, inside, outside. We're going to have to have more than one guy ready to handle him and block him. It won't just fall to the guard or to the tackle," McDaniels explained. "We have to do a great job of trying to simulate his effort, his motor, some of the things that he does to disrupt people in the running game and the passing game."

On offense, the Texans boast the NFL's fourth-leading rusher in Arian Foster, as well as Andre Johnson, the league's fourth-leading receiver.

"You're talking about a very balanced, very well-put-together offense," defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said. "I think the biggest thing for us is trying to figure out how to stop this running game. It's a critical part to what they do, along with the passing game ability that they have."

After arriving home from Miami on Sunday evening, the Patriots have a full week to prepare for the Texans.

"I'm sure we'll need (the extra time)," coach Bill Belichick said.