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Bold Prediction: 2011 Kansas City Chiefs Will Finish Top Three In Sacks In NFL

The Kansas City Chiefs pass rush of 2010 was already a thing of beauty, anchored by one of the league's best defensive players in Tamba Hali. Richly rewarded with a five year, $60 million extension, Hali is now tethered to Kansas City for arguably the rest of his playing career. And with that, the Chiefs will always feature a significant pass rush as long as he stays healthy.

But what about the rest of the team? Last year, the Chiefs finished at No. 12 in total sacks so they're already an above average unit. This season, however, we're predicting them to make a major leap in the final defensive standings to finish Top 3 in total sacks -- a group that last year consisted of the Pittsburgh Steelers (a league-leading 48), Green Bay Packers (47), Oakland Raiders (47) and San Diego Chargers (47). The Chiefs finished with 38 last year, so someone has to make up that differential. Luckily, the Chiefs are well-positioned to do just that.

Hali had 14.5 sacks last season and a total around that same figure should be expected, even with the added attention that comes after such a notable year. Wallace Gilberry really came into his own last season and has been vying for more playing time on a defensive front that also includes Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey. When Gilberry was in, he was remarkably effective, as his 7 sacks in limited playing time shows. Expect Haley to give Gilberry more opps than ever to rush the passer and possibly reach the double digit mark in sacks.

Another sleeper to discuss is Javier Arenas, a blitzing cornerback who had 3 sacks last season for a loss of 29 yards. Arenas can do all things well, as evidenced by the 5 sacks and 5 interceptions of his senior year at Alabama, the year the Crimson Tide won the national championship. As Romeo Crennel learns to use Arenas, you can expect his sack totals to increase. The same can be said of Eric Berry, who had 2 last year and should accumulate more and more as he settles into his impact safety position.

The real addition to the Chiefs defense, however, is Justin Houston. The former Georgia linebacker came into the NFL Draft with a lot of baggage but a first round talent grade because of his incredible ability to rush the passer at the college level. His two sacks against Baltimore showed his great burst around the edge, and opposing offensive coordinators cannot solely focus on Hali's presence as long as Houston is in the game. Houston has a lot of learning to do, but there's no denying the game-time instincts.

Dorsey and Jackson should also not be ignored as they will each have 1 to 3 sacks on the year, especially with Jackson looking at fit and ready as he is in training camp. Here's a rough guess on final sack totals for the season:

Tamba Hali - 13
Justin Houston - 8
Wallace Gilberry - 8
Javier Arenas - 4
Eric Berry - 4
Derrick Johnson - 3
Tyson Jackson - 3
Andy Studebaker - 1
Kelly Gregg - 1
Jerrelle Powe - 1
Glenn Dorsey - 1
Jovan Belcher - 1
Team Total = 48