Tamba Hali, Justin Houston much more than pass rushers

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Nov 29, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) is helped off the field against the Buffalo Bills in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City’s defense were ranked 12th coming into Sunday’s game against the run, allowing just north of 100 yards per game. Meanwhile Cleveland were just below the league average, rushing for 96.2 yards per game. Allowing well over 200 yards of rushing offense is clearly not good enough for a team that’s aim is to a playoff match.

So what was the difference between Sunday’s game and the rest of the season? Well, there were two crucial omissions from the team that took to Arrowhead against the Browns. They were Kansas City’s two star outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Hali and Houston have formed a formidable partnership over recent years, especially in rushing the passer.

However, what is often understated is the ability both players have in the run game. The sacks have not been as mind-blowing this season. After Houston blew away the league with an unbelievable 22 sacks last year, the man earned his big money contract. This season he has not put up the big numbers of recent years, but has still played at an elite level.

Houston has often been double-teamed on the outside and has attracted more and more attention from either a blocking tight end or running back from the backfield. This attention allows other players a one-on-one battle to get to the quarterback. This is shown in the number of players that have got sacks this season.

Next: The impact of Houston and Hali