Tamba Hali, Justin Houston much more than pass rushers

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Dec 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) prepares to throw the ball as Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) and outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) defend during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Including Houston and Hali, 12 players have recorded a sack this season. That is outstanding production from the team as a whole. This is due to the attention that the two receiver on the outside. Hali has reproduced his form from a few years ago, and although he only has 6.5 sacks for the year, has been a menace for opposing offenses.

Where the two really come into their own, however, what truly sets them apart from nearly all other outside linebacker pairs in the league, is how they play against the run. Both Hali and Houston have outstanding reading of the game. They are consistently in the backfield, making tackles for loss, they blow up plays left, right and center, and very rarely miss a tackle.

The biggest advantage to both their games is their upper body power. They have the ability to get off blocks and fill up running lanes. This ability was most evident on Sunday, when we saw Manziel and Crowell carve open the Chiefs run defense. The Browns were able to create running lanes for Crowell, or Manziel was able scramble to the edge, because Dee Ford and Frank Zombo were unable to get off blocks, time and time again.

In the past, Ford has been rightfully criticized for his lack of upper body strength. If he is unable to unleash his wicked first step round the outside of the opposing tackle, then his influence on a game is diminished significantly. It is here where he can learn from two of the best in the business in Hali and Houston.

If the Chiefs have dreams of winning a play off match, then they will need to be more stout against the run than what they were on Sunday. Thankfully, both Houston and Hali are scheduled to be back in a Kansas City uniform come January, whether they are available for Week 17 or not, and they will be most needed. Even if the Chiefs have the luxury of facing the winner of the AFC South in the postseason, if Hali and Houston were not available, it would considerably diminish the chances of victory.

So, do you agree Chiefs fans? Are you as enamored as I am with the ability that both Hali and Houston have displayed over the years, and would you be as worried as I am if they are unavailable for the postseason? Thanks for reading, and let me know in the comments. And as always… GO CHIEFS!!!