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Chiefs OLBs Tamba Hali and Justin Houston vs. Packers OTs Marshall Newhouse, Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod
Following a game in which Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was under consistently heavy pressure — he was sacked four times and hit seven times total in the Week 14 rout of the Raiders — Green Bay's tackles figure to be under the gun for a second-straight week matched up against Hali and Houston, one of the league's better young OLB tandems. Hali finished last season as the AFC's sack leader with 14½ sacks, including 6½ after the start of December, and added two sacks in the Chiefs' playoff game. The converted defensive end is continuing to apply steady pressure this season, currently tied for fifth in the AFC in sacks with nine. Hali had a sack, seven tackles and a forced fumble in K.C.'s loss to the Jets last Sunday.
Well-built with exceptional speed, Hali just runs over people and is a physical, violent player quite capable of making life miserable for Newhouse and Sherrod, who could split time at left tackle in this game, if last Sunday's game vs. Oakland is any indication. Newhouse has been doing a mostly adequate job as the starting left tackle replacing the injured Chad Clifton. But Sherrod replaced Newhouse for one series at left tackle in the second quarter and played the entire second half at that spot, as the Packers decided the time was right to give their 2011 first-round draft pick some meaningful minutes. In his first meaningful action since Week Five, Sherrod was inconsistent, but he looked better than he did in the preseason.
Bulaga, who is starting to show a bit more assertiveness finishing blocks, will have to keep it up vs. Houston, a third-round rookie out of Georgia who has been coming on strong recently, registering all four of his sacks in the last two games (including three vs. the Bears in Week 13). Houston has a terrific burst at the snap and is a sure open-field tackler.