Justin Houston injury: Chiefs LB expected to play vs. Colts

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City's dominant pass-rusher is expected back after missing five weeks.

SB Nation 2014 NFL Playoff Coverage

Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston is expected to suit up against the Indianapolis Colts in Saturday's Wild Card matchup, according to the Kansas City Star.

Houston is the most well-rounded player on Kansas City's defense along with safety Eric Berry. The 24-year-old out of the University of Georgia ranked as the top outside linebacker in the NFL this season with a 31.8 rating according to Pro Football Focus, despite missing the last five games of the season.

Houston comes in ranked fourth at rushing the passer out of all outside linebackers and fifth against the run, showcasing his versatility.

The Chiefs' third-round pick in the 2011 draft, Houston was selected to his second Pro Bowl this season alongside four other members of his defense, including his bookend, Tamba Hali. With Houston in the lineup early in the season, Kansas City had the best scoring defense in football, setting a record by not allowing more than 17 points in each of the first nine games this season.

With Houston back in the lineup this Saturday, the Colts will have to face a different looking defense than they saw on Week 16, when they came into Arrowhead Stadium and won 23-7. Without Houston, the Chiefs are forced to blitz much more, usually with middle linebacker Derrick Johnson and Berry.

Now, Berry will be more available, especially on third down, to cover the tight ends while Johnson can have the luxury of guarding running backs who serve as release valves from pressure. This is a game-changer for the Chiefs, as Johnson is ranked as the best inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense while in coverage, per PFF.

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