Oakland Raiders vs. AFC West: Defensive Line

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Nov 16, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) throws while being pressured by Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe (92) and outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

1. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs were just behind the Broncos last season, defensively speaking. Overall, Denver had the league’s fourth ranked defense (312 ypg) while the Chiefs clocked in at number seven (330 ypg). Given the number of free agent departures in Denver this year – some of them key starters – this is the year Kansas City overtakes the Broncos for the defensive top spot in the AFC West, and likely in the league rankings as well.

Despite the presence of Dontari Poe, who is one of the best at his position and makes Kansas City’s defensive line tough and entirely formidable, the Chiefs had some trouble stopping the run last season. But an injury to defensive end Mike DeVito played a large part in that, as he was limited to a single game in 2014. But DeVito is back and health, which will undoubtedly help Kansas City’s defensive line.

Also helping Kansas City’s defensive line will be linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Opposing offenses will need to spend a lot of time and energy accounting for the two of them, who combined for 88.5 sacks over the last four seasons, that it is going to free up Poe, DeVito, and Jaye Howard to do some damage on their own.

So long as Kansas City can stay healthy, their numbers against the run should improve, and the defensive line should be tops in the AFC West.

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