The 33-year-old is the Black Cats' top goalscorer this season.
The 33-year-old is the Black Cats' top goalscorer so far this campaign with nine strikes to his name, and Howe knows that preventing the former England international from stamping his authority on the fixture could be what decides whether the Cherries leave the Stadium of Light with three points or not.
"He has the ability to score key goals in tight games, so we certainly know about his strengths," he told Sky Sports.
"Our key aim is to nullify him, keep him quiet. Of course there are very good players around him, but certainly his form has been very good of late."
Despite Sam Allardyce's side's poor position in the Premier League table - they currently sit 19th, four points from safety - Defoe has been exceptional recently. He has scored five goals in his last three games, including a hat-trick in the important victory over relegation rivals Swansea City.
And with Howe's Bournemouth side just three points clear of the drop zone, he will know that allowing the former Cherries loanee to make a substantial impact on the game could result in his side being dragged straight back into the jaws of the bottom three.