The Kansas City Chiefs offensive line and how they're going to contain JJ Watt is a big story line. It's probably the biggest story line from a Chiefs offense perspective. Another significant story line is the same story on the other side.
How will Justin Houston and Tamba Hali take advantage of the Houston Texans offensive line?
The key here is that Duane Brown, the Texans left tackle, will not play in this game. He was injured last week - in a meaningless game, ouch - and is done for the year. The Chiefs will see Chris Clark replacing him. That name might sound familiar because he spent five years in Denver, and he knows the Chiefs.
It appears that the Chiefs will likely have all three of their top pass rushers. Justin Houston said he will play in this game after missing five weeks with a hyperextended knee. Tamba Hali broke his thumb in Week 15 but tested it out a little bit in Week 17 against the Raiders. Then there's Dee Ford, who reported concussion symptoms after last week's game. He has exited the concussion protocol and was a full participant in practice on Thursday. I would expect him to play on Saturday.
Justin Houston and Dee Ford on #Chiefs practice field pic.twitter.com/TZZ2oeCIOF— Blair Kerkhoff (@BlairKerkhoff) January 7, 2016
The key to the game for both sides is the offensive line protecting against the pass rush. If the Chiefs can get to Brian Hoyer consistently, I feel really good about them winning this game. The last time the Chiefs were in a playoff game in Houston they sacked the quarterback NINE times. They do that again and I will guarantee a win.
The same goes for the other side. If JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus are getting to Alex Smith consistently, it will have a major effect on the Chiefs offense. Major.
Both coaching staffs know what's coming, and I don't think either staff is naive enough to think they can stop these pass rushers without some extra help.
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