Five To Watch: Chiefs v. Cardinals

If everyone thought last Sunday's victory over the San Francisco 49ers was a laugher, wait until you see the Cardinals. Arizona is one of the worst teams in the NFL, and that bodes well for the Chiefs this weekend.

There are three reasons why the Chiefs will win this game on Sunday.

1. They are a superior football team to the Arizona Cardinals in every aspect from the players to the coaches.

2. The defense is playing at a level that is reminiscent of the team that dominated offenses in the 90's.

3. Herm Edwards has his players believing in the things he and his coaching staff are drilling into them every day.

It's hard for most fans to really judge how dominating the Chiefs were last weekend against the 49ers. I've heard it from all angles and for the most part I agree with most it.

But the overall sentiment is that the Chiefs weren't as good as they played and the 49ers weren't as bad. That makes sense, but a few key items have to be taken into consideration.

On the negative side, the 49ers clearly gave up once the Chiefs poured it on. On the positive side, Kansas City never let up and they finished off a team they should have crushed without ever giving San Francisco a chance to get back in the game.

That's something that this team failed to do in years past under Dick Vermeil. But Herm Edwards has had a lot of success when he faces teams that have losing records. He beats them at home and on the road. That's a mark of a good coach.

For Edwards, the theme this season has been trying to convince his players that they are a team. It's not easy to break old habits but in less than nine months on the job, Edwards has united this team in the wake of player retirements and injuries, not to mention a 1-2 start. The Chiefs might be one of the best teams that nobody respects in the NFL.

On Sunday they'll face the hapless Cardinals in a game that will feature the beginning of the Matt Leinart era. But the only reason that Leinart is starting this game is the fact that Denny Green is fighting to save his job.

Most pundits predicted the Cardinals would make a solid run at the playoffs. Instead, Kurt Warner is over the hill, the offensive line is bad and Edgerrin James clearly took the loot in the Desert and has yet to get on track.

With Leinart at the helm, the Chiefs defense will be teeing off on the former USC standout. He's nowhere near ready to lead the Cardinals and his coaching staff has to be scared out of their minds that he's facing a Chiefs defense that hasn't given up a touchdown in ten quarters and has yet to yield a passing touchdown.

That's daunting, to say the least. It's a shame that Green is so interested in saving his own skin that he'd throw out a rookie quarterback just to get one more year as the head coach. Maybe that's harsh, but it's honest.

The Chiefs should leave Arizona with a win.

Five to Watch:
1. QB Damon Huard – Last week's performance actually had some people talking that if Huard can play like he did against the 49ers that he should remain the starter when Trent Green is healthy. Huard has been very impressive the last two games and he shouldn't have much of a problem beating the Cardinals.

2. LB Kendrell Bell – He was more active last week than he was in the first two games. He's starting to get more comfortable in the defense. With the Steelers game just a week away, Bell needs to have a monster game against the Cardinals. He's still not the same player he was when he was one of the most feared linebackers in the game, but at least he's hitting people again and that's a good sign for this defense.

3. WR Rod Gardner - I really hate to put him in this column two weeks in a row, but I really believe that he's going to get in the endzone on Sunday. I've been very impressed with how fast he's assimilated the offense. He's such a talented receiver that this team needs to exploit his skills and develop another downfield threat. If they can do that, it just gives the offense one more solid weapon to keep defenses off balance.

4. DT Stephen Williams - He's quickly gone from undrafted free agent from NW Missouri State to backup defensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs. The defensive coaching staff is so high on Williams that he's pushed Lional Dalton to the inactive list. He played well last weekend against the 49ers and now that he's made it on the 53-man roster, his head coach is expecting more out of him. At 6-foot-2 and 306 pounds he's the type of space-eater this defense needs.

5. KR Dante Hall - Last week saw the return of the ‘Human Joystick' and that's a good sign for this football team. Hall has been trying to reclaim the magic that made him the NFL's flavor of the week when he scored touchdowns in four straight games in 2003. If Herm Edwards is going to retool this team's playing style, Hall must become a weapon and a threat in the field position battle. If his touchdown last week wasn't a fluke, then he needs to find the end zone again on Sunday. More than any other Chiefs player, he needs to find his mojo.

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