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Tamba Hali and Justin Houston Hold the Key to Kansas City's Success in 2013

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Tamba Hali and Justin Houston Hold the Key to Kansas City's Success in 2013
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Even though the Kansas City Chiefs underwent a big change in their front office with a new general manager and a new head coach, they still have a shot at surprising a lot of teams this year. Similar to 2010, the Chiefs could give the Denver Broncos a run for their money and perhaps go from worst to first in the AFC West.

Andy Reid takes over a Chiefs team that still has a lot of their key players with very minimal key losses throughout the offseason. As Alex Smith takes over as the new quarterback of the Chiefs, fans will be keeping a close eye on Smith and how he operates the offense.

While Smith and Jamaal Charles are watched closely, the two biggest key players are on the opposite side of the ball.

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In order for the Kansas City Chiefs to be competitive and win a lot of games this year, they will rely on their pass-rushers. Outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston must remain healthy and stay on the field to give Kansas City the best shot at making an appearance in the playoffs.

Ever since Week 13 of the 2011 NFL season, which was Houston’s rookie year, the two pass-rushers have formed a powerful tag team. In the past 21 games combined, dating back to when Houston recorded his first career sack against Chicago, Hali and Houston have 29.5 sacks combined. Nineteen of those sacks came last year as the duo made the Pro Bowl.

The Chiefs defense will be relied on this year to help the offense. With Hali and Houston blitzing from the corners, opposing quarterbacks will have a tough time making the plays they want to make. This can either create a lot of three-and-outs or takeaways.

The Chiefs will go up against Tony Romo, Mike Vick, Eli Manning, Matt Schaub, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. The Chiefs will also face Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers twice. Kansas City’s top game plan this year, especially against those quarterbacks, will be to apply pressure and chase the quarterback.

Hali and Houston are capable of getting the job done and will put the Chiefs in position to win many games. Opposing quarterbacks fear this duo while offensive coordinators have to spend time figuring out the best way to shield their quarterbacks from Hali and Houston.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Getting past Denver in the AFC West is a tall order, but when it comes to head-to-head battles, Manning has struggled in the past against the Chiefs.

When the Broncos visited the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, the Broncos won 17-9 as the Chiefs offense was incapable of finding the end zone.

Now, the Chiefs have an offense that can move the chains and create more competitive football games. This will reward the defense for their efforts in limiting opposing offenses.

By the time the 2013 season concludes, the Chiefs will finish the year as one of the top defensive teams in the league. As for their record, the defense will do its part to help Kansas City get wins. The rest will be up to the offense to take advantage and score a lot of points.

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