The Other Side

The 10-1 Chiefs could clinch their first AFC West Division title this week if they beat the Chargers in San Diego and the Raiders beat Denver in Oakland. <br><br> No big deal.

There will be no pouring of wine in the Chiefs locker room should that happen. Coach Dick Vermeil, you see, would probably supply the vino from his own collection, and the NFL doesn't want him promising cabernet to his players.

More important, however, is that winning the division is only the first of Kansas City's team goals this year. Two much more important ones lie ahead.

"Our big thing is to make the playoffs and get home-field advantage," said Vermeil, adding that he doesn't plan to detail the division-winning prospects with his players, who know them anyway.

"Our challenge is not to lose home-field advantage in San Diego, and that will be the challenge every week for us. Our play this year has put us in a really good position, and now we've got a short season. Five games will determine our future in January. We have to play well in all of them, because we've got three teams with 9-2 records breathing down our necks."

Like the gunfighter shot down by an amateur, the Chiefs appear more wary of the non-winning teams on their remaining schedule (2-9 San Diego, 4-7 Chicago and 3-8 Detroit, pre-Thanksgiving) than they are of Denver (6-5) and Minnesota (7-4), two road games in which the Chiefs might actually be underdogs.

That, however, is looking down the road, and right now the only roads of concern to the Chiefs intersect at Interstates 15 and 8 -- the location of Qualcomm Stadium.

"Overall, our team has done as good a job as anybody in football in focusing on one week at a time," Vermeil said. "The San Diego Chargers are a target. They have a losing record. A good team with a winning record should not lose to a team with a losing record. But, more good records have been spoiled by a losing team than by a winning team. That just happens."

"All I care about is what they weigh on Sunday. I don't want any fat asses out there." -- Dick Vermeil on whether he's ever been concerned about players putting on extra weight during the Thanksgiving holiday.

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