Double Trouble For Seattle

For years, the Chiefs defense has lacked an identity. During the entire Dick Vermeil era, there was not one defender that truly scared the other team. The bottom line was that the Arrowhead atmosphere intimidated opposing offenses more than the players on the field.

It just wasn't championship football.

This season we're seeing something different. The fear factor is back. And this time, it has everything to do with the players on the field. To put it bluntly, defensive ends Jared Allen and Tamba Hali are blowing up enemy offenses.

Make no mistake, there are other good players. Kawika Mitchell is tough in the middle. Derrick Johnson can make plays all over the field, and the veteran cornerback tandem of Patrick Surtain and Ty Law gives defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham enormous flexibility in attacking opposing passers. But the guys that can change the game, the guys that bring the fear, are Allen and Hali.

What's even better is that they are both young, with room to grow. Allen is 24 and Hali is 22. These guys haven't hit their peak yet.

Despite that, their numbers have been good. In six games this season, Allen has 29 total tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles. Hali has 30 tackles, three and a half sacks and four forced fumbles. Project that over the season and these guys could finish with over 70 tackles a piece, 20 total sacks and 16 forced fumbles. Those kind of numbers will make offensive coordinators work overtime in the film room.

There is more to it, however, than pure numbers. Allen and Hali's youthful enthusiasm means they don't know when to quit. Against Pittsburgh two Sundays ago, Hali clocked Steelers running back Willie Parker so hard that he fumbled twice in a game that was already over. Allen ran down Najeh Davenport after a 48-yard gain, saving a touchdown. Davenport is a big back, but a 270-pound defensive end running down anyone from behind is a rare sight in the NFL.

No matter what the down, the score or the time left in the game, Allen and Hali will force opponents to make uncomfortable adjustments in their scheme. But worst of all, these guys are a threat to inflict starring roles in ESPN's "Jacked Up!" segment upon hapless enemy ball-carriers.

No one, and I mean no one, wants to be embarrassed.

This week, Seattle comes to Arrowhead without Pro-Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and all-world running back Shaun Alexander. Offensive tackles Walter Jones and Sean Locklear will have to give quarterback Seneca Wallace time to get his bearings in the NFL's toughest environment. This Sunday will be Wallace's first NFL start after sitting on the bench four years.

Good luck. This match-up is comparable to sending David off to fight Goliath with a rubber-band gun instead of a sling.

Of course, there are no guarantees in the NFL. Losing their two biggest stars could inspire the Seahawks. The Chiefs could decide to spend Saturday night attending an Avon party. But no matter what transpires on Sunday, we can be very sure that Allen and Hali are going to blow somebody up. Top Stories