At this point, Justin Houston has emerged as the better of the Chiefs' two primary pass-rushers but that doesn't mean Hali can be taken for granted, especially considering he has what should be a favorable matchup against Long. Long has had his share of ups and downs this year but the downs traditionally seem to come when he faces elite pass-rushers. Hali still qualifies.
Through six games, Hali has four sacks and 12 quarterback hurries and is still able to convert speed to power as well as just about any edge rusher in the game. Joe Barksdale will have his hands full with Houston on the other side but Long has to fare better here than he did against Philadelphia's Trent Cole earlier in the season. Long was solid against Seattle last week but in what figures to be a raucous Arrowhead Stadium, he's going to have to be on point to keep Hali at bay and give quarterback Austin Davis time to throw.
Technically, this is really more about Ogletree defending the entire run game of the Chiefs but that run game begins with Smith. The Chiefs work in plenty of read-option concepts and like to work those east and west with running back Jamaal Charles when possible. The idea being to get the defense moving laterally to create space for Charles to make one cut and go.
The Rams, meanwhile, have struggled to consistently set the edge and Ogletree has been disappointing in his role as the linebacker regularly assigned to handling quarterback keepers and misdirection to the outside. Seattle's Russell Wilson fooled Ogletree twice last week, once for a 52-yard run and again for a 19-yard touchdown later in the game. Ogletree has no choice but to stay at home and do his job or the Chiefs will not hesitate to take advantage by running right at him with Charles, fellow back Knile Davis and Smith.
Chiefs center Rodney Hudson is one of the best in the league at his position but the Chiefs have some weaknesses to either side of him in the form of Fulton and left guard Mike McGlynn. This could be a game for Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers to get going because it stands to reason that Hudson will spend much of the day helping Fulton try to slow down Donald.
Donald has been a rookie revelation for the Rams, causing havoc on a regular basis now that he's moved into the starting lineup for the past two weeks. Donald's speed off the ball, hand usage and ability to use his leverage has made him a tough chore for every lineman he's faced, let alone a sixth-round rookie trying to make his way in the league. Even if Fulton gets the help necessary to slow Donald, it should open opportunities for the Rams other defensive linemen. It's up to them to take advantage.