FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan tried to feed a line through the Houston Texans' beat writers that Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis wouldn't be going man-to-man on Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson on every snap in Sunday's game. But it was a half-hearted assertion, judging from the way he described the competitors.
"[Johnson is] a matchup nightmare," Ryan said. "In my opinion he's the best receiver in football. It doesn't get any tougher than that. We have the only corner in the league that would dare try to cover this guy in man coverage in Darrelle Revis. He is, in my opinion -- and it's not even close -- the best corner in football."
Ryan went on to offer a half-hearted red herring, saying the Jets coaches might mix up the cornerbacks in coverage, but backed down when asked about it in New York.
"We know where [Revis is] going to be," Ryan admitted. "If he's not on [Johnson], he'll be on the same side. I was hoping they'd buy it."
The matchup is one of the most anticipated in Sunday's game between the Texans and Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium. The Jets are 7-2 but have not have an easy time at home, where they are 2-2. The Texans are 4-5, but have upset the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs.
Last season against the Texans, Revis held Johnson to just four catches for 35 yards. It was a feat made more impressive in that Johnson was the NFL leader in receiving yards. Revis also cut his average yards per catch from 15.5 to 8.8. Revis compared Johnson's strength and speed to that of another tough receiver, Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson.
"Andre is more of a -- how he plays is more explosive, it's more aggressive, you get what I'm saying?" Revis said. "It's like he's like a lion out there trying to chase after his prey -- how he runs his routes and how physical he is."
Revis had another analogy as well, that of the matchup between basketball players Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
"We're going to see who falls at the end of the game," Revis said.
Revis was careful not to say anything negative about Andre Johnson, whom he knows through their affiliation with Nike. And the respect was mutual, as Johnson took care to note that he and Revis talk off of the football field as well.
"He's very technique-sound as a defensive back," Johnson said. "He's very patient. He can mix it up with you. He can be physical at times. At times he doesn't have to be physical. He has the all-around game. He's great at what he does."
Revis hasn't had a lot of balls thrown his way in the past few games, but he can expect that to change on Sunday. The Texans will throw to Johnson, and the wide receiver looks forward to trying to get the better of Revis this time around.
"I think as far as the competition level, it's what's good for the game," Johnson said. "I look forward to playing against him. He's the best cornerback in the game and people say that I'm the best wide receiver, so people look forward to matchups like that."
Jane McManus is a columnist and reporter for ESPNNewYork.com.