Five To Watch: Chiefs-Rams

I'm not interested in talking about the Governor's Cup. All that matters for the Kansas City Chiefs is to walk into the Edward Jones Dome and defeat the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. I don't care that Tuesday is Election Day across the state. I do care that the best football team in Missouri wins, and I fully expect that to be the team from the west side of the state.

It's been an interesting week around One Arrowhead Drive after the Chiefs won back to back games against quality opponents. All the talk has centered on the brewing quarterback controversy. For the most part, everyone understands that when Trent Green is healthy and cleared by doctors, Damon Huard will go back to the bench.

Still, some believe that this is the reincarnation of Rich Gannon and Elvis Grbac. Sorry folks, it's not even close. First and foremost, Grbac wouldn't be third-string on this team right now, and Green is in a class with the NFL's elite quarterbacks.

To that end, Huard is, in my opinion, a better quarterback than Gannon was at the time he filled in for an injured Grbac. That means the Chiefs have two quality players vying for one starting spot. That's a good problem to have.

As Kansas City prepares to play the Rams on Sunday, fans have to be pleased with the fact the Chiefs sit a game back of division leaders San Diego and Denver. This weekend, the Broncos have to travel to the lions' den in Pittsburgh to play the Steelers, while the Chargers have another layup at home against the Browns.

The Chiefs travel across the state to play a Rams team that has lost two games in a row and a bit of their luster after a 4-1 start. But that shouldn't give the Chiefs any false hope.

Though the Chiefs have better talent on both sides of the ball, they must come into the Edwards Jones Dome with the same fire they displayed the last two weeks playing at Arrowhead. They had opportunities to blow out the Chargers and Seahawks, but they're still learning how to win games under Herm Edwards.

The key for the Chiefs will be learning how to win those same games on the road. They did an above-average job in Denver, where they lost a 9-6 overtime game. They made enough big plays to defeat the Cardinals in Arizona, but were thrashed by the Steelers.

So which Chiefs' road team will show up in St. Louis?

All week long, Edwards has talked about the Chiefs winning games on the road. He knows as well as the players do that if Kansas City is going to be a legitimate playoff team this season, winning on foreign turf is paramount to a post-season berth.

The two go hand in hand and Edwards drives the point home to his team on every occasion. On Wednesday he again delivered a sermon about the importance of winning on the road. The players are starting to understand that despite numerous setbacks, they're part of the AFC playoff picture.

That's a testament to Edwards, who has kept the players loose and also has them feeling more and more like a team.

They have a golden opportunity to go into the second half of the season with a 5-3 mark. It won't be easy, as the Rams have a solid quarterback in Marc Bulger, who has shaken off some of the rust left in the wake of Mike Martz's eviction.

Bulger has only thrown one interception this year. KC's defense will have to put pressure on him and force him into making one or two errant passes. That won't be possible if the Chiefs don't do a good job of stopping the run. Stephen Jackson is among the NFC's best rushers, but the Chiefs have been relatively solid in stopping premier running backs, and that has to be their focus on Sunday.

Kansas City's offense has to stay the course. Huard needs to feed Larry Johnson the ball and get it to steady Eddie Kennison and tight end Tony Gonzalez. The offensive line may be dinged this week, as Kyle Turley could start for Kevin Sampson, who is 50/50 to start Sunday.

Despite that, the Chiefs enter this game with lots of confidence and great team chemistry, but the same thing could be said about them after their wins over the 49ers and Cardinals. We all know what happened the next week in the Steel City.

But you have to believe that this team is better than the one that went into Pittsburgh and laid an egg. You have to think that Edwards has reminded them about that game over and over. He never wants them to forget it, and he uses it as a motivating factor that fuels his drive to get the most out of every player.

If the Chiefs are going to become a playoff team, they have to win this weekend in St. Louis and next week in Miami. The toughest part of season is behind them, but the season of expectations will begin for real in St. Louis.

Five to Watch
1. RT Kyle Turley - If Kevin Sampson does not start, and it's looking less and less likely that he will after missing most of practice this week, then Kyle Turley will get a chance to move back into the starting lineup. After sitting out the last four games (two by injuries, two by a demotion to backup tackle), Turley might be better suited to play right tackle then left. He was stellar in New Orleans and St. Louis at the same position. After spending a tumultuous three years with the Rams, this game will also be a homecoming of sorts for Turley.

2. KR Dante Hall - I've been pretty hard on Hall the last several weeks. This is the kind of game where a big return could kick-start the Chiefs' offense or throttle the Rams' momentum. Hall needs to go back to the basics by running forward and taking his chances. If he can do that, then maybe he can break one and get the monkey off his back.

3. TE Tony Gonzalez - Gonzalez, who has spent the week being the center of contract talks, could have his third straight game over 100 yards. I'm still baffled when I see opposing teams attempt to cover him in the middle of the field with a cornerback.

4. RB Michael Bennett - The Rams have been awful against the run, and we all know that Larry Johnson is certain to have another 100-yard game, but his backup could prove important. Bennett had significant carries against Seattle, giving LJ a much-needed breather. The Rams, ironically, were one of the teams that tried to trade for Bennett in August, but Kansas City won out. Bennett wanted to play for the Rams but the Saints didn't want to send him to an NFC team. Now, he gets his chance to show the fans what type of player he could have been as their backup running back.

5. OC Mike Solari - It was about this time in Al Saunders' tenure as Chiefs' offensive coordinator that he started to figure things out. What Solari has done the past two weeks is go back to the basics and get the ball into the hands of his playmakers. This offense has become feared again because Solari is doing a great job attacking his opponent's weaknesses. If he keeps this up, the offense could become diverse and dangerous in the second half of the season. Top Stories