Sport : NFL

Texans to stay unbeaten

23rd September 2012, 10:54am

Manning: Tough test this week against Houston

Manning: Tough test this week against Houston

The Houston Texans can move to 3-0 on the season with a victory at Denver in the NFL on Sunday night says our David John.

New York Jets at Miami (1800BST)

"So bet against us," was Rex Ryan's defiant reaction (again) after last week's loss to Pittsburgh as the Jets came back down to earth once more with the latest in a long line of reaility checks.

There are times when it seems only Ryan believes he has a championship-calibre team as the record book shows them consistently coming up short despite some very bold claims about them winning the Super Bowl.

But they have a decent chance of making up some ground against their divisional rivals in Florida conceding just one point on the handicap.

While the offense still tries to find some consistency - they scored 41 points in the first 35 minutes of week one but have added just 17 since - the defense is where they will be able to dominate this game.

The news has been upbeat this week about cornerback Darelle Revis following a bout of concussion and after passing a range of neurological tests, he is set to make his return to the football field on Sunday.

His side of the ball will be up against a Dolphins team that won it's home opener for the first time in six seasons as they ran roughshod over Oakland.

But head coach Joe Philbin admitted they still have a "million miles to go" in terms of progress as rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill settles into the role he won over the summer in training camp.

He can expect to face plenty of pressure from a defense that Ryan believes could be the best in franchise history (there he goes again!) but if Revis plays and can shut down the in-form Brian Hartline on the flanks, Tannehill and the running game could well struggle against a much stiffer opponent compared to last week's Raiders.

I'm sure Jets offensive co-ordinator Tony Sparano will have a trick or two up his sleeve too as he returns to south Florida for the first time since he was fired as head coach and if they keep good on their word to learn from their mistakes against the Steelers, they should have too much in the locker for the hosts.

Houston at Denver (2115BST)

There is littlle doubt that the competitive fire inside Peyton Manning still burns as fiercely as ever but four neck surgeries and a season off have clearly taken a toll physically.

The Denver quarterback seems to have lost some zip on his intermediate passes as three interceptions in the first quarter last Monday night in Atlanta proved the difference in a 27-21 defeat.

That said, Manning's mental prowess and leadership almost pulled them back into the game as he went on to complete 20 of his next 29 passes.

"I put the team in a hole," was Manning's frank assessment after as he shouldered the blame for them dropping to 1-1.

It would be folly to write him off on the strength of one below-par effort and it would not be out of the question to see him bounce back but hosting Houston this week is going to be a tough examination for John Fox's men.

The Texans are one of the best balanced teams around on offence with an efficient passing game marshalled by fit-again quarterback Matt Schaub while their running game contains the dual threat of Arian Foster and Ben Tate.

The defense is in a miserly mood too having allowed a franchise low of just 117 yards last week against Jacksonville as a youthful, aggressive unit is already eyeing up the bullseye on Manning's chest.

The Texans are challenging for Super Bowl favouritism and the chance to go to 3-0 for their first time would really make the league sit up and take notice.

Hills and Bodog both go 5/6 for them to win straight up and that looks well within their grasp.

  • Preview posted at 1040 BST on 21/09/2012.

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