Bournemouth and Derby are locked at the top of the Championship, ahead of the game on the south coast tomorrow night.
“I think Derby are the favourites to be promoted – they’re the best team in the division,” said Howe.
Howe’s comments place pressure on Derby and deflect attention away from his own team in the build up to the game.
It’s a clever tactic, which appears to be designed at taking the focus away from his players and placing it on Derby, a big side going to the league leaders looking for a win, which would put them outright top.
Derby have a great squad of players but Howe’s Bournemouth have played some very good football over the course of the season.
The Cherries have a better attack but Derby’s defence has been more effective so far this season.
It will be interesting to see how Steve McClaren approaches the game because Howe could encourage his team to attack from the offer.
That will put Derby under big pressure to defend effectively early on, before trying to counter and gradually stretch out an advantage over 90 minutes.
It should be a cracking game between two well matched teams.