Houston Texans Defensive End J.J. Watt Featured On Regional Cover of Sports Illustrated

Don’t Mess With The Texans 

Perennially loaded on offense, Houston finally has a dominant defense to match: a manic swat patrol that makes life miserable on quarterbacks. The best team in football? No doubt about it says SI writer Austin Murphy.  The issue will be on stands Wednesday.

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Also in this week’s Sports Illustrated: Peter King’s divisional round predictions, disproving the myth that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team and the reemergence of Indiana basketball

You have already seen our cover featuring the BCS champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Here is what else awaits in this week’s Jan. 16 issue.

AFC AND NFC DIVISIONAL-ROUND FORECASTS – PETER KING (@SI_PeterKing)

Patriots 30, Broncos 16: “I can’t see Denver covering the Pats’ tight ends well—meaning the Broncos’ season will not end well.”

Ravens 30, Texans 20: “Ray Rice versus Arian Foster. Who wins? The rested Rice because he has a better QB to threaten the opposing secondary.”

Saints 24, 49ers 19: “Darren Sproles plays at a different speed from everyone else, even the lightning-fast San Francisco linebackers.”

Packers 24, Giants 23: “In the end Aaron ­Rodgers will make the plays in the fourth quarter to win the best game of the playoff weekend.”

On the Tablets: Peter King’s guest on his weekly podcast interview is Texans G.M. Rick Smith. Plus, King’s “Last Word on the NFL” heading into the divisional round of the playoffs.

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NFL PLAYOFF PREVIEW: PETER KING PREDICTS SAINTS OVER PATRIOTS 34–24 IN SUPER BOWL XLVI

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The four quarterbacks on the regional covers of Sports Illustrated’s NFL Playoff Preview—Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, New England’s Tom Brady, New Orleans’s Drew Brees and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger—have combined to win seven of the past 10 Super Bowls, including four Super Bowl MVP awards. Senior NFL writer Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) predicts that Brady and Brees will square off in a duel of record-breaking quarterbacks in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, with the Saints beating the Patriots 34–24. King’s complete predictions are listed below:

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Also in this week’s issue: the Texans’ star running back/budding poet, a seemingly inevitable LSU-Alabama rematch and 25 years of 3-pointers in college hoops

You’ve read about our cover story on the end of the NBA lockout and our profile of high school football star Kitam Hamm Jr. (For the latter, we hope that you also watched his story on last night’s broadcast of CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and this morning’s edition of CBS The Early Show.) You’ve also learned that NFL players consider Jon Gruden to be their favorite TV football commentator. Here’s what else readers can expect from the Dec. 5 issue.

HOUSTON TEXANS: #OCCUPY THE PLAYOFFS – DAMON HACK (@si_damonhack)

With two QBs already lost to injury, the Houston Texans will need hard-charging, deep-thinking feature back Arian Foster to lead the way in order to make their first postseason ever. It’s a far cry from 2009, when Foster wasn’t even drafted out of Tennessee. Recalls Foster’s father, Carl, who threw his son a draft party that spring in Phoenix (page 72): “I was managing some hotels, and all of the families flew in and we had this big shebang. I had golf passes. We had tickets for Diamond­backs games. We had a great weekend, and the draft was to be the ending to a great weekend. It was kind of a nightmare.”

Foster has not rested on his laurels since emerging last year as one of the better running backs in the NFL. Says Texans running backs coach Chick Harris: “He’s always searching for other things, looking into various angles and philosophical beliefs. He’s the first guy to raise his hand to ask why, and if it doesn’t make sense to him, I’m the first one to hear about it.”

On the Tablets: The Texans’ T.J. Yates becoming the eighth rookie QB to see action in the NFL this season. The tablet features hotspots on Yates and the other seven as well as senior writer Peter King’s (@SI_PeterKing) weekly podcast interview (this week’s guest is Mike Mayock of the NFL Network) and “Last Word on the NFL.”

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