With the AFC West all tied up at the top, there is no question Week 13’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos will be one for the ages. The Sunday Night Football showdown two weeks ago certainly didn’t disappoint, and the fact that this Sunday will be played in Kansas City certainly makes it that much more interesting. However, linebacker Justin Houston’s absence could easily be the difference maker for the Chiefs.
As of right now, Kansas City’s superb pass rusher is expected to miss the contest due to an injured elbow. In fact, the Chiefs were unable to give Houston an MRI on Monday because the swelling in his elbow was too great.
Obviously, this is a huge concern, especially since Houston ranks third in the NFL with 11 sacks. His ability to get after the quarterback is one of the big reasons Kansas City has the top ranked defense in the league. Unfortunately, without his presence the defense just isn’t as threatening.
To make matters worse, linebacker Tamba Hali could also miss the game due to an ankle sprain that he suffered in the team’s loss to the San Diego Chargers. Hali just so happens to be the second-best pass rusher on the team with nine sacks this season.
Not to have either of their top pass rushers will be a huge issue for the Chiefs, especially since Peyton Manning is hard to get after as it is. Denver is going to do whatever it takes to regain control of the division, which means Kansas City is going to have to throw everything they have at Manning to come away with the win. The problem is I don’t see how that happens without Houston or Hali.