Chiefs 2015: Five most important players for success

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Nov 16, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) celebrates after the Chiefs stopped the Seattle Seahawks on fourth down in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won the game 24-20. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

2. Justin Houston

Last year, Kansas City finished seventh in total defense and second in point allowed. The Chiefs were a very tough team to play against, in large part due to Justin Houston. Houston put on one of the great pass-rushing displays of all-time, racking up 22 sacks. His total ended up becoming a new franchise record for a single season and was a half-sack away from tying Michael Strahan’s all-time mark.

Houston doesn’t need to repeat that feat, and he likely won’t. Getting 15 sacks is an incredible accomplishment, let alone over 20. However, he must stay healthy and consistently be the wild man coming off the edge which requires double and triple-teams. Houston’s mere presence is a nightmare for opposing offensive coordinators, men charged with stopping the best in the business.

Tamba Hali is still a very important piece and a real threat, but Houston has taken the mantle as top dog both in Kansas City and leaguewide. Houston is going to get plenty of attention, so even if his numbers are down a bit, that’s fine. By taking on two and three blockers, other players are going to either come free or get one-on-one attention. I’ll take Hali, or Dontari Poe, or Allen Bailey in that matchup any time.

Certain players are literal game-changers the second they step on the field. Houston is most-certainly that. With No. 50 roaming around near the right tackle, Kansas City already has a distinct advantage.

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