Sunday will mark Hester's seventh game as the first-string fullback and his blocking improves with each passing week. He will face his biggest challenge yet in the Divisional Round, as Polamalu will move all over the field and look to blow up plays in the backfield. Hester must keep his eyes peeled for Pittsburgh's No. 43 so that San Diego's No. 43 (Darren Sproles) can find room to run.
When the Chargers Pass: OT Marcus McNeill vs. OLB James Harrison
McNeill was beaten by Harrison for a sack that resulted in a safety in the first meeting. McNeill, who allowed only three sacks in the regular season, yielded two sacks to Dwight Freeney last week and must do better against the AP Defensive Player of the Year. Harrison averaged better than a sack per game this season and topped 100 total tackles for the first time in his career.
NT Jamal Williams
The Chargers cannot let Willie Parker and Pittsburgh's No. 23-ranked rushing attack get rolling. The Chargers lost time of possession by more than 13 minutes in the first meeting, something that must not happen again. It starts up front with Williams, who needs to command double-teams and disrupt plays in the backfield. Williams goes nose-to-nose with Hartwig, a seven-year veteran who started every game this season after spending the previous two years with the Carolina Panthers.
When the Steelers Pass: CB Antonio Cromartie vs. WR Santonio Holmes
No play epitomized Cromartie's oft-criticized lack of focus better than Reggie Wayne's 72-yard touchdown reception last week. Cro' had better not fall asleep against Holmes, who had 10 catches of 20-plus yards this season. It's now been 14 games since Cromartie's last interception, a streak he would love to snap.
Just for Kicks: K Nate Kaeding vs. KR Gary Russell
Field position will be crucial in this week's contest. That means Kaeding must get good distance on his kickoffs, which could be a struggle as he battles through a groin injury. If he proves ineffective early on, Mike Scifres could take over in that capacity. Russell struggled in the first game against the Chargers, averaging only 20 yards per return, and has tallied only one return of 40-plus yards this season. The return of Brandon Siler from a foot injury should help keep Russell in check.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.