NFL Nation: Kansas City Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The most interesting development regarding the Kansas City Chiefs from Sunday night's Pro Bowl is that linebacker Justin Houston didn't play.

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Houston
Houston's contract is scheduled to expire in March. Danny Parkins of Kansas City radio station KCSP was in Arizona covering the game. He reported via Twitter that Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali said Houston didn't play because he wanted to remain healthy heading into his contract negotiations.

Parkins later tweeted that Houston denied this, saying he was sick.

Nobody could blame Houston for skipping the game for contract reasons. As the NFL's sack leader, he will get a lucrative long-term contract from the Chiefs if the sides can work something out. An injury can only ruin the financial possibilities for him.

But Houston went through the week of practice. If he had no intention of playing in the game, he should have skipped the entire week and let another player take his place.

The other three Chiefs did participate for Team Cris Carter, which lost 32-28 to Team Michael Irvin. Running back Jamaal Charles had four carries for 25 yards, including a 17-yard run that set up a Team Carter touchdown.

Hali had a tackle and an assist. Nose tackle Dontari Poe had two tackles.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame class will be announced on Jan. 31. The Kansas City Chiefs' Will Shields is one of 18 finalists.

[+] EnlargeWill Shields
Tim Umphrey/Getty ImagesWill Shields was selected to 12 Pro Bowls during his tenure with the Chiefs.
Will Shields, who played right guard for the Chiefs from 1993 through his retirement after the 2006 season, is deserving as a finalist, which he is for the fourth time. There are no stats to back that up, but any player or coach from his era will vouch for the fact Shields was one of the best offensive linemen of his time.

Shields played for great teams in the 1990s that fell just short of reaching the Super Bowl. Had his teams won more playoff games and reached a Super Bowl, Shields would likely be a member of the Hall of Fame already.

That the Chiefs didn't win more playoff games during Shields' 14 seasons is hardly his fault. He was a solid, consistent and often spectacular player, albeit at an unglamorous position. He was a part of the great Chiefs offensive lines of the early 2000s that also included one Pro Football Hall of Famer, tackle Willie Roaf, and another potential entrant, guard Brian Waters.

Another former Chiefs player is also among the finalists. Morten Andersen kicked for the Chiefs in 2002 and 2003.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Former NFL quarterback Terrelle Pryor is working out for the Kansas City Chiefs, according to Pro Football Talk.

Pryor
Stranger things have happened than the Chiefs signing Pryor, but it's difficult to see it eventually happening. The Chiefs have a glut as it is at quarterback with Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray and Tyler Bray. Not much room for another body unless the Chiefs clear out one of the other four.

Smith last year signed a contract extension, so the Chiefs are committed to him as their starter and he's not going anywhere. The Chiefs won't be able to keep both Murray and Bray forever but they like the potential of both players, and it's unlikely they would part with either player before seeing them for at least one more offseason, training camp and preseason.

That leaves Daniel, who is headed into the final year of his contract. He could be expendable if the Chiefs determine that Murray, Bray or even Pryor is ready to be Smith's leading backup.

But if the Chiefs were already at that point, they would have made the move already.

So the Chiefs are most likely just looking, at least for now. They have CFL wide receiver Duron Carter working out as well and needed an arm to throw to him. Pryor, who started some games in 2013 for the Oakland Raiders, can handle that.



KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs have 16 free agents as they enter the 2015 offseason. The new league year opens at 4 p.m. ET March 10, when unrestricted free agents can sign with any team.

Here's a list of the Chiefs' unrestricted and restricted free agents:

Unrestricted:

Jason Avant, WR
Kurt Coleman, S
Thomas Gafford, LS
Richard Gordon, TE
Ryan Harris, OT
Justin Houston, LB
Rodney Hudson, C
Jeffrey Linkenbach, OL
Josh Mauga, LB
Mike McGlynn, OL
Joe McKnight, RB
Chris Owens, CB
Ron Parker, DB
Kevin Vickerson, DL

Restricted:

Dezman Moses, LB
Kelcie McCray, S
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- General manager John Dorsey called the trade for Alex Smith a success, saying their starting quarterback has been worth the two second-round draft picks the Kansas City Chiefs had to give to the San Francisco 49ers.

“I think he’s everything we thought he’d be,’’ Dorsey said at his season-ending news conference. “We have to put some more pieces around him. I think he’s lived up to what he thought he would be.”

Smith
 Smith has at least stabilized the quarterback spot for the Chiefs and there’s something to be said for that. Not since the Chiefs had Trent Green have they been so committed to a quarterback and that includes Matt Cassel, who had one big season in Kansas City but was never a favorite of either of his head coaches, Todd Haley and Romeo Crennel.

The Chiefs needed a new starting quarterback two years ago when they moved from Scott Pioli and Crennel to Dorsey and Andy Reid. Smith is a nice fit for what Reid likes to do offensively, so he was probably the best option the Chiefs had, particularly given he came at a painful yet not devastating price.

But was he worth that price? It’s premature to make a final determination on that. Let’s see where Smith’s career goes from here. Can, as Dorsey said, the Chiefs surround him with better players and finally win some playoff games and at least challenge for a Super Bowl?

The 49ers wound up trading both picks they received from the Chiefs. But they turned one of the picks they received in those trades into linebacker Chris Borland, who as a rookie this season was rated among the best 3-4 linebackers in the league by Pro Football Focus. So the 49ers certainly received some value in the Smith trade, too.

Interestingly, both players drafted with the picks sent to the 49ers were wide receivers, where the Chiefs could have used the help. In 2013, the Tennessee Titans drafted Kendall Hunter and last year the Denver Broncos selected Cody Latimer.

Hunter has only 46 catches for the Titans in two seasons, but seven have gone for touchdowns. He also has a healthy 18.5-yards per catch average, so he probably would have been able to help the Chiefs.

Latimer played little as a rookie, catching two passes for 23 yards.

As much as the Chiefs are deficient at wide receiver, they needed a quarterback more. They had to have someone at the game’s most important position, so for now at least it appears that Dorsey was right and the Smith trade has worked out for the Chiefs.

Kansas City Chiefs season report card

December, 31, 2014
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video » AFC: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

The Kansas City Chiefs appeared to have reason to prepare for a long and prosperous stay in the playoffs on Nov. 16 after beating the Seattle Seahawks 24-20 at Arrowhead Stadium for their fifth straight victory. The 7-3 Chiefs moved into a tie for first place in the AFC West with the Denver Broncos.

But then the Chiefs lost four of their last six games to finish 9-7. That record wasn’t good enough to put them in the playoffs. The Chiefs lost close games against Oakland, Arizona and Pittsburgh down the stretch. A victory in any of them would have made the difference.

Team MVP: Linebacker Justin Houston led the NFL in sacks with 22, breaking the franchise's single-season record, which was previously owned by Derrick Thomas (20 in 1990). Houston was remarkably consistent. There were only three games in which he was held without a sack. He also had a superb all-around season, including his play against the run and in pass coverage, and the Chiefs used him in a variety of roles. He played them all well. A compelling argument can be made that Houston was the NFL’s best linebacker.

Best moment: The Chiefs rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Seahawks, giving them a physical and emotional victory over the defending Super Bowl champions. At that point, all things seemed possible for the Chiefs. After losing their first two games of the season, they had rallied to win seven of eight games, and because they were tied with Denver for first place, their chances for winning the AFC West had to be taken seriously. Jamaal Charles had his best game of the season that day, rushing for 159 yards and two touchdowns. It was the only time Charles topped 100 yards all season.

Worst moment: The Chiefs learned in the days after their Nov. 20 loss to the Oakland Raiders that safety Eric Berry had lymphoma. Berry was one of the Chiefs’ leaders, and his absence in the locker room has made an impact. The news caught everybody off guard because Berry had played against the Raiders. But he complained of tightness in his chest afterward and testing revealed a mass and the subsequent diagnosis. The Chiefs started their next game, on Nov. 30 against the Denver Broncos, as if in a daze. They fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and 17-0 in the second before snapping out of it.

2015 outlook: The Chiefs should be a playoff contender again if they adequately address some glaring weaknesses on the offensive line and at wide receiver. Ultimately, it was their shortcomings at those spots that dragged down their passing game and ruined their season. The Chiefs are expecting several compensatory draft picks because of their losses in free agency last year. That would allow them to cover a lot of ground. The Chiefs might not be contenders for the AFC West championship as long as Peyton Manning is the quarterback of the Broncos, but it will be a disappointment if the Chiefs are not a part of the wild-card race.

2015 Kansas City Chiefs' draft order

December, 29, 2014
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- What the Kansas City Chiefs will do with their first pick of next year's NFL draft will unfold over the next four months. For now, we know this: The Chiefs will have the 18th pick in the first round, unless they trade out of that spot.

There is room for some spirited debate about what direction the Chiefs should go with that pick. Their wide receivers were last in the NFL in most of the important statistical categories including, of course, touchdowns. Not a one from a wide receiver. They had to plug two holes in their offensive line with journeymen this past season.

Those are the two most obvious areas of need. I've already weighed in on this topic and will continue to do so up until the draft. Spoiler alert: I urged the Chiefs to select someone at this very same position in the last draft and they ignored me. Maybe their refusal to take my free and valuable advice cost them a playoff spot in 2014.

Whatever the Chiefs wind up doing, it's going to be fun to follow.

In case you missed it, here is a list of Chiefs' 2015 opponents.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs will play the following teams in 2015:

At Arrowhead Stadium: Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears.

On the road: Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings.

In London: Detroit Lions on Nov. 1.

Dates and times will be announced in the spring.

On the surface, it's another difficult schedule. Seven of these games are against teams that made this season's playoffs and only two will be played at Arrowhead. Four of them will be played on the road and the last will be played overseas.

This season the Chiefs played six games against teams that made the playoffs, three at home and three on the road.
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs have had Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith, Tamba Hali and Jared Allen play for them over the past 25 years. But they’ve never seen pass-rushing greatness like the kind linebacker Justin Houston showed this season.

Houston brought down San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers four times in Sunday’s game, a 19-7 Chiefs victory. Houston led the NFL with 22 sacks, highest total in Chiefs history. He finished a half-sack short of the NFL record of 22.5 set by Michael Strahan of the New York Giants in 2001.

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Houston
Houston’s contract will expire in March and he would become an unrestricted free agent if the sides haven’t reached an agreement on a new deal before then.

No matter the expense, the Chiefs should re-sign Houston. Even for a franchise with an impressive pass-rush lineage, Houston stands out.

He will turn 26 in January, so he should have several productive seasons left. The Chiefs need to make certain those seasons are played in Kansas City.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,’’ Houston said. “It will mean a lot one day but today I’m more disappointed we’re going home next week instead of playing [in the playoffs].’’

Houston had his final sack of the season with about a minute left in the game, leaving him time to get the NFL record. The Chargers, in fact, ran three more plays, but Houston dropped into coverage and never had a chance to break Strahan’s record.
Houston has sacked Rivers five times in his career, more than any other opposing quarterback other than Michael Vick.

“Some guys just have the knack,’’ Rivers said. “He has that. He’s a big, strong, powerful guy that can beat you around the corner and beat you inside.’’

Houston is the 10th player in NFL history to get to 20 sacks. Thomas held the Chiefs' record of 20, set in 1990.

Five of the previous nine players to get 20 or more are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Thomas included. Three of the remaining four have a chance to eventually get in, Allen included.

But no Chiefs player has ever has a pass-rushing season like Houston did this season.

"A lot of guys have come in and tried to break that record, myself included, and didn’t get close,’’ Hali said “What Houston did is remarkable.

“For you to get [even] 10 sacks in this league is hard. You have to look at it and appreciate a guy like Houston.’’
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The epitaph for the 2014 Kansas City Chiefs is as embarrassing as it is revealing about why they came up short of the playoffs. The 9-7 Chiefs went all season without getting a touchdown from a wide receiver.

Think about that for a moment. In a league in which the rules are designed for wide receivers to get big plays and touchdowns, the Chiefs failed to get many of one and any of the other.

That, in sum, was the root of their problem. They beat the San Diego Chargers 19-7 on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium but their season is finished because their offense limped through with minimal help from the wide receivers.

[+] EnlargeDwayne Bowe
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelWhile he came close on Sunday, Dwayne Bowe was unable to give the Chiefs a touchdown by a wide receiver this season.
It didn’t have to be this way, of course. The Chiefs could have made themselves better last offseason by getting the signature of free agent Emmanuel Sanders on a contract before he left their offices. They could have drafted a wide receiver like Kelvin Benjamin or Jordan Matthews.

But they ignored a positional need last offseason, their most glaring. They returned with largely the same cast of receivers as 2013 and paid the ultimate price in football terms. They came up a game short of the playoffs in a season in which a 10-6 record would have put them in the postseason.

Hopefully, that pain will spur the Chiefs into making sure this doesn’t happen to them again. But even if they invest free-agent dollars, as well as premium draft picks into wide receivers next season, it’s too late to help them for 2014.

If they had signed Sanders or drafted Benjamin or Matthews, it’s likely the Chiefs this week would be preparing for a playoff game rather than cleaning out lockers and wishing they had won any of the six games they coughed up.

The Chiefs wasted an opportunity here. Even without big plays and touchdowns from their wide receivers, they were 7-3 and tied for first place in the AFC West in the middle of November.

But it’s difficult and perhaps even impossible to make that kind of thing last over a full season. The Chiefs certainly couldn’t. They lost winnable games down the stretch against Oakland, Arizona and Pittsburgh, so they needed help from both Cleveland and Jacksonville on the season’s final day to make the playoffs.

That help, of course, didn’t come and the Chiefs are left to ponder, what if?

“You could look at any of our losses and say a play here, a play there and that would have guaranteed us a spot in the playoffs,’’ tackle Ryan Harris said.

“It just adds to the disappointment. This is such a talented group. This is the NFL. You’ve got to win big games and the not-so-big games and we let one too many get away from us.’’

The Chiefs aren’t finished this season because of their defense, which allowed fewer points than all but two other teams.

It’s not because of their running game, which was good enough to put them in the league’s top half.

It’s because they didn’t get enough help from their wide receivers.

It happened one last time on Sunday. Dwayne Bowe fumbled as he was on his way into the end zone and though it didn’t cost the Chiefs -- tight end Travis Kelce recovered for a touchdown -- it was a symbol of what killed their season.

“That’s a part of history,’’ Bowe said. “It’s a weird stat but it’s history and I’m a part of it.’’

The Chiefs need to make sure they don’t repeat that history in 2015 or ever again.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Kansas City Chiefs’ 19-7 win over the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium:
  • The Chiefs mostly said they were unaware of the other games that had an impact on their playoff chances. Offensive tackle Ryan Harris said the Chiefs weren’t certain of their status as their game wound down. “If we were going to the playoffs, somebody would have said something to us after the game," he said.
  • Jamaal Charles finished the game with a hamstring injury. The Chiefs went with Knile Davis as their featured back down the stretch.
  • Quarterback Chase Daniel succinctly summed up the season of linebacker Justin Houston, who had four sacks to finish with 22, a half-sack away from the NFL record set by Michael Strahan of the New York Giants in 2001. “The guy’s a freak," Daniel said about Houston.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Quarterback Chase Daniel had a short and simple description for his emotions going into the second start of his five-year NFL career on Sunday for the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I’m ecstatic,’’ Daniel said.

Those aren’t hollow words. Daniel may or may not play well on Sunday when the Chiefs attempt to put themselves into the playoffs with a victory over the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium.

Daniel
But there’s not a quarterback around, starter or backup, who believes in himself more than Daniel. So despite being thrust into the starter’s role on Friday with news of a lacerated spleen for Alex Smith, there is no doubt in his own mind about how he will fare.

“I wouldn’t rather have it any other way than to be put into a situation with everything on the line,’’ he said. “I know the team believes in me and we’ll go out there and try to put drives together against a good San Diego defense.’’

They’re just words, of course. Daniel would undoubtedly be saying those or similar words publicly regardless of how he felt.

But his teammates describe Daniel as the most self-confident quarterback they’ve been around. That confidence rubs off on them.

“We believe we can win with him,’’ wide receiver Jason Avant said.

Again, those are words you’d hear publicly at this point no matter how the Chiefs truly felt about Daniel. But the Chiefs showed how they believed in Daniel in last year’s final regular-season game, also against the Chargers.

Because they had already clinched a wild-card spot, the Chiefs rested Smith, Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Branden Albert and others. Daniel started and led the Chiefs, playing with a lineup full of backups against an opponent that needed a win to get into the playoffs, to what should have been a victory.

Kansas City missed a field goal in the final seconds of the fourth quarter that would have won the game. Instead, the Chargers won 27-24 in overtime.

So the Chiefs have reason to believe in him.

“You’re fortunate you have Chase here,’’ coach Andy Reid said. “The guys have a lot of trust in Chase.’’

Daniel is a career backup, having spent three seasons as Drew Brees’ understudy before he joined the Chiefs last year. He played for the Saints only in games that got out of hand.

The Chiefs overpaid to get him as Smith’s backup anyway, giving him a contract worth $10 million over three seasons.

The Chiefs obviously saw something in Daniel. Logic says his belief in himself was it.

He made the first start of his career last year against the Chargers and Daniel attacked it. The Chiefs scored two touchdowns in the first quarter. He was the quarterback on the last touchdown pass to a Chiefs wide receiver, a 2-yard throw to Dexter McCluster that day.

“I was excited,’’ Daniel said. “I wasn’t nervous.’’

Sunday’s game could be the last start of Daniel’s career. But you would have trouble convincing him of that regardless of how things go for him on Sunday.

Tamba Hali worth the cost to Chiefs

December, 26, 2014
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – His sack numbers are down, on pace to be the lowest in several seasons. But by many measures, outside linebacker Tamba Hali is still a useful player for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Still, Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium could be Hali’s last for the Chiefs after nine seasons.

His age (31) and his hefty salary -- he will count almost $12 million against the Chiefs’ cap next year -- make him a candidate for release. The Chiefs also drafted a player at his position in the first round last year and they expect Dee Ford to be a starter sooner or later.

[+] EnlargeTamba Hali
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesTamba Hali has six sacks this season, his lowest total since 2008.
All are powerful factors, as Hali seemed to acknowledge this week when he said he wanted to play again next season “wherever” that might be.

Hali made the Pro Bowl this year for the fourth time but admitted he’s not having a Pro Bowl type of season.

“The numbers definitely don’t say Pro Bowl this year,” he said. “The cards didn’t turn the way I felt they should. I’d go out there and I’d beat my guy, but the sacks just aren’t coming. As far as playing the game the way I love to play, I think this was one of those years where I enjoyed playing and didn’t worry too much about the sacks, even though there were times I was disappointed I didn’t come out with a sack. I felt like this was one of those years I played the game because I loved it.”

But the Chiefs shouldn’t be too hasty in letting Hali go. He has just six sacks, and that’s mostly what the Chiefs are paying him for. But he’s still doing other things, like defending the run and covering pass receivers well.

In fact, he’s probably doing a better job in coverage than he ever has.

“I embraced it,” Hali said. “When [teammate Justin Houston] started to get such a lead on me in sacks, I figured it would probably be more beneficial to help him and help the team to play more coverage. That’s helped my game from an overall standpoint. I’m pleased with it.”

Overall, Pro Football Focus has him as their No. 12 outside linebacker. There’s value in that for the Chiefs, though perhaps not $12 million worth.

Still, his case shouldn’t be confused with that of Dwayne Bowe. The Chiefs can find a wide receiver who can give them what Bowe has this season (57 catches, 724 yards, zero touchdowns) for far less than what they are scheduled to pay Bowe next season (he will cost $14 million against their cap).

It would be difficult for the Chiefs to adequately replace Hali at a significantly lower price.

The Chiefs would have a different defense without Hali. Forgetting about his numbers, the Chiefs would certainly miss his constant presence against the run and the pass, and his wisdom in the locker room.

Another thing for the Chiefs to consider here is Houston’s unsettled contract situation. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, and though the Chiefs would make him their franchise player before that happens, there’s no guarantee he signs.

If Houston holds out and the Chiefs have released Hali, where does that leave them? With Ford and Frank Zombo as their outside linebackers.

So I think Hali is worth the cost for one more year.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The situation facing the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday usually happens to one or more teams at the end of a season, so it isn’t rare. But it always makes for one unusual day at the stadium.

The Chiefs need to not only win their game at Arrowhead Stadium against the San Diego Chargers to make the playoffs, but also must get specific results in two other games.

So the scores of those two games which also start at noon CT -- Jacksonville at Houston and Cleveland at Baltimore (the Chiefs need victories by the Jaguars and Browns) -- are important as the one unfolding at Arrowhead.

“You try not to [watch the scoreboard],’’ veteran defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson said. “I’m pretty sure they will flash it across the stadium and on the scoreboard.’’

It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs handle the flow of information in the stadium. Adverse results in the two other games could affect the way the Chiefs are playing.

They’ve faced similar circumstances before with the season’s final game at Arrowhead. Then, the Chiefs imposed a blackout on scores and highlights from the other important games.

But that’s almost impossible to do in this digital age, when anyone with a smart phone (which is to say everyone in the stadium) can find the scores from Houston and Baltimore.

In 2005, the Chiefs not only needed to beat Cincinnati, but have the Detroit Lions beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in order to get into the playoffs. The Chiefs did their part by beating the Bengals, but the Lions lost and the Chiefs were left out of the postseason.

The next season, the Chiefs needed to beat Jacksonville at home and then get results from three different games. The Chiefs beat the Jaguars, and then the results from the other games came in as well, putting Kansas City in the playoffs.

The Chiefs are battling some big odds this time. While they are favorites to beat the Chargers, the other teams they need to win are playing on the road and are underdogs of more than a touchdown.

It seems like a letdown for the Chiefs to have to rely on the charity of strangers to get into the playoffs. They were 7-3 and tied for first place in the AFC West just a few weeks ago before losing four of their last five games to fall to 8-7.

Despite their desperate situation, it beats not having the chance at all.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into a season and you hope you’re one of the teams at the end there that has an opportunity,’’ coach Andy Reid. “Even though we need help now we’re still right in position there to take care of business. We’ve got to make sure we do our part and get ourselves ready for San Diego.’’
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – As a player who rushes the opposing quarterback for a living, Tamba Hali of the Kansas City Chiefs can appreciate what teammate Justin Houston has accomplished through the first 15 games of the season.

Hali has averaged roughly nine sacks per year through his nine NFL seasons. Houston, a linebacker who leads the NFL with 18 sacks, is having a year that equals two average Hali seasons.

Hali just shakes his head and laughs at that. He has even more appreciation for what Houston could accomplish.

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Houston
With two sacks Sunday in the final regular season game against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium, Houston would not only tie Derrick Thomas for the Chiefs’ all-time single season record for sacks he would also become the 10th player in NFL history to get to 20 sacks.

“I’d love it,’’ Hali said, referring to Houston getting to 20. “I told him he’s doing something remarkable around here. If you look at 20 sacks ... in the history of football there’s not many guys that can do that. He’s doing something great.’’

Houston is on the verge of a magical number. Twenty sacks tends to be the historical line of demarcation between great pass rushers and very good ones.

Five of the nine rushers to have at least 20 sacks in a season are already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Michael Strahan, Reggie White, Chris Doleman, Lawrence Taylor and Thomas). Among the other four, three are still active and appear to have a reasonable or better chance of eventually getting in (Jared Allen, J.J. Watt, DeMarcus Ware).

The other player is Mark Gastineau.

Eight players have had either 19 or 19.5 sacks in a season. Only Bruce Smith is in the Hall and only Ware appears to have a good shot at this point of getting in.

It’s probably overdramatic to say Houston is going for history on Sunday. But he just might be.

Who knows if he’s ever going to get this kind of a chance again? Injuries could ruin another season, as a dislocated elbow did for Houston last year. Contract issues also could be looming. Houston is in the final year of the contract he signed in 2011 as the Chiefs’ third-round draft pick. He looks destined to become their franchise player next spring. Will he hold out?

On the other hand, injuries and contract issues willing, Houston appears to be an excellent candidate to be the first player to get to 20 sacks two times or more. Houston is only 25.

Ironically, it might be Houston’s ability to cover pass receivers that limits his chances of bringing down Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers twice on Sunday. The Chiefs frequently drop Houston into coverage instead of sending him after the quarterback because of his value in that role, too.

“He does a lot of things for us,’’ defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “He’s not just a pass rusher. He’s involved in multiple roles in coverage. We move him around to both cover and pressure. Last week I thought he did a really good job against the run in Pittsburgh and really made some good plays in that part of the game.’’

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