The Kansas City Chiefs not only lost their second consecutive game this past Sunday to the San Diego Chargers, but more importantly they also lost both of their stud outside linebackers, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. After an equally tough loss in Foxboro for the Denver Broncos, where Peyton Manning looked far from comfortable on his injured ankle, these key defensive injuries for the Chiefs could not have come at a better time for the Broncos, providing them with an ideal opportunity to lock up home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Hali and Houston account for more than half of the Chiefs’ league-leading 37 sacks with a combined 20 quarterback take-downs. Without them pressuring opposing quarterbacks this stingy KC defense becomes much more pedestrian, and their aggressive secondary will be forced to play far more conservatively.
Though both are listed as questionable for return, Hali was carted off the field last Sunday, and the health of both these players is paramount to the team’s playoff success. If neither Hali nor Houston play they will be replaced by Dezman Moses and Frank Zombo, two inexperienced players with only nine combined career sacks that can reliably be blocked one-on-one.
Without their strong pass rush, this high scoring Broncos team can easily put up a score that a lowly Chiefs offense simply cannot attain. With Houston and Hali the Chiefs held the Broncos to their lowest point total yet, 27, but still the Chiefs have only topped that total three times this season, against the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Chargers – three of the worst defenses in football. The Denver defense has continually improved each week since the return of Von Miller.
Though it was a tough loss for the Broncos faithful to take in Foxboro this week (and a terrible end to a terrific game in my opinion) it will ultimately mean very little in the grand scheme of things, and the Broncos will likely have their chance at redemption in the playoffs after defeating a banged up KC team this week.
Written bu John Spina. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @jsspina24.