How Good are the Chiefs Without Justin Houston?

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Dec 7, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston (50) puts on his helmet against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Chiefs 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs are going to be better this season.

That sentiment has been pretty prevalent around the Chiefs Kingdom during this offseason. The front office at One Arrowhead Drive has been fairly active, and the moves have been greeted favorably by fans. They have also avoided leaving any position at a net loss.

They may have cut Dwayne Bowe, but they brought in Jeremy Maclin. Rodney Hudson may now be an Oakland Raider, but the Chiefs traded for Ben Grubbs, and also addressed the offensive line in the draft.

And the defense only seems to be getting stronger with the re-signing of both Ron Parker and Tamba Hali, a full offseason of work for Dee Ford, and the return of both Mike DeVito and Derrick Johnson.

Laddie Morse even wrote that we should not be surprised if the Chiefs win it all this year.

There is, of course, one small snag: Justin Houston.

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Not long ago, I wrote that Houston’s contract discussions were the only real need left for the Chiefs this offseason (read the full article here). Nothing has changed in the meantime. And the team now has less than a month until the July 15 deadline to reach a long-term deal with him. If the sides do not reach a long-term deal, then Houston has until Week 10 of the regular season to sign his franchise tender. The Chiefs have their BYE in Week 9, so Kansas City is looking at the potential of playing the first half of its season without arguably its best player.

Unfortunately, the first half of the schedule is the most difficult, featuring a number of tough opponents. It starts with games against the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, and Cincinnati Bengals. And only one of those games will be played in Arrowhead. K.C. rounds out the first half of the season with games against the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Detroit Lions.

How well do you think the Chiefs would have done without Houston in those eight games last year? Two or three games? (as paradoxical as this team was last year, you could actually be forgiven for giving pretty much any answer mathematically possible, but you get my point)

How well do you think K.C. will be able to do without Houston this year?

Next: Can Chiefs survive without Houston?