Did the Lion roar loud enough?

Lions in their cages can't help it. They are angry, desparate and cunning. The San Diego Chargers head to Buffalo facing a team that has won three straight and is eager to sink its teeth into a fourth victim as they claw back to the playoffs. But the Bolts are proceeding with caution. Has the head trainer issued the warning in time?

In one of Marty Schottenheimer's hands is hammer. The other hand holds one of the Chargers' 53 players, as he pounds his message into the noggin loud and clear: don't fall into the NFL trap.

There is one poised to snap the Chargers back to reality on Sunday in Buffalo. The Chargers are riding high with a five-game winning streak, have a two-game cushion in the AFC West and get their best defensive player, Shawne Merriman, back from a four-game suspension.

Plus they are playing a team they waxed just last season to the tune of 48-10.

But the Chargers are making their second-longest road trip of the year. And these Bills are not the same woeful outfit that stunk up Qualcomm Stadium on their way to a 5-11 record.

"It's going to be a tough battle because they are a good football team," Schottenheimer said, repeating a chorus he has told his player.

It's not all coach speak, either.

The Bills are coming off two dramatic victories and have won three of their past four. Quarterback J.P. Losman has seen his completion rate rise as he finally gets comfortable in his second year as a starter.

"His completion percentage over the past two weeks has been 71 percent," Schottenheimer said, hoping to get his players' attention. "It's obvious he is getting comfortable with what they are doing."

Schottenheimer also points to the Bills' defensive speed -- never mind it has trouble stopping the run. The old coach also says, without qualification, that the Bills' special teams are the NFL's best.

Linebacker Shaun Phillips can almost recite Schottenheimer's mantra to the letter.

"Marty has it instilled in our head, he pounds in our head every day that we got to concentrate on one thing at a time," Phillips said. "Concentrate on one day at a time. Then when we get to Sunday, we concentrate on Sunday. That is all we can do."

If not, this wonderful season that has the Chargers poised to snatch their second playoff appearance since 1995 will be gone.

"When you start to look too far down the road, that is when you slip up," Phillips said. "And we don't want to do that."

What they want to do is get their defensive swagger back, something that will come with the arrival of Merriman. Phillips said the key Sunday is to treat Losman like an inexperienced quarterback -- never mind that his counterpart, Philip Rivers, is even more green.

"We're going to try to get after him a little bit," Phillips said. "Hopefully we can rattle him up a little bit. He is kind of a young quarterback still learning and we are definitely going to get after him."

Schottenheimer has been after the Chargers all week. Come Sunday, we'll find out if they've been listening.

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