Editor’s note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Chiefs matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m., at Arrowhead Stadium.
Raiders LT Khalif Barnes vs. Chiefs ROLB Tamba Hali
Tale of the tape:
Barnes (69): 6-foot-6, 321 pounds, ninth season, Washington
Hali (91): 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, eighth season, Penn State
Justin Houston is the face of the Kansas City Chiefs pass rush. Recording 8-1/2 sacks in five games, after all, can create quite a buzz.
While outside linebacker is the league’s second-most productive sack man on the NFL’s best pass rush, Houston might not be the best pressure man on his own team.
That title still resides with Tamba Hali, among the league’s most underrated defenders. He has a track record of success, with at least eight sacks over the last seven seasons.
The eighth-year pro should exceed that average this season. He has four sacks, two hits and a whopping 31 hurries. That means he flushes the pocket more than six times per game. He also returned interception for a touchdown.
That’s a lot for Raiders left tackle Khalif Barnes to handle. He’s fared surprisingly well since moving from right tackle to the left with injuries to Jared Veldheer and Menelik Watson.
He’s played every snap at left tackle this season, with two sacks allowed. He’s had mixed results against 3-4 edge-rushing outside linebackers the past two games. He anchored the line last week against San Diego, but struggled at times against the Washington’s Brian Orakpo the week before.
Hali is certainly in Orakpo’s class. While Terrelle Pryor’s athleticism can mitigate problems up front, Barnes must do his best to contain Hali and alleviate pursuit while Pryor’s on the run.
“You have to keep fighting with a quarterback like Terrelle, because a play is never over,” Barnes said. “You have to stay focused, and give him a chance to make plays.”