Nuge's Nuggets: Chiefs Beat Rams

Someone's got to tell these guys they're making this harder than it has to be. I know they won, and I know it was a big road victory when they needed it, but the Kansas City Chiefs have got to start putting teams away.

Last Sunday versus San Diego, the Chiefs let the Chargers hang around and make it a game when it really shouldn't have been. This week they let the St. Louis Rams put pressure on them at the end of the game. If wasn't for two really bad pass interference calls, the Rams might have been able to pull this game out. The Chiefs can't do this. It doesn't matter if it's a good or a bad team, one of these teams is going to take advantage of the opportunities if the Chiefs keep presenting them.

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Damon Huard. That's all I've been hearing about the last few weeks. Okay, that and Larry Johnson's Offensive Player of the Week performance. But maybe I'm hypersensitive because I'm skeptical with the media and fans' infatuation with Huard's performance over the last few weeks.

Not that Huard hasn't been playing dynamite football. Once he got his feet wet, he grabbed the reins of the offense and didn't let go. I just think at least some of the credit goes to offensive coordinator Mike Solari. After a rocky start, the Chiefs' new offensive coordinator has the offensive machine humming. He's even done some things the old regime appeared unable to do.

Solari has gotten Tony Gonzalez involved in the offense again as a pass catcher. He's helped get Johnson on track by calling runs that the help KC's depleted offensive line maximize its strength. After fullback Ronnie Cruz's season-ending injury, he's gotten Kris Wilson involved as an H-Back, creating mismatches all around the field. Instead of worrying about Huard's protection, Solari gave him more safety valves to distribute the ball to, forcing defenses to worry about Huard's weapons and not keying on the quarterback effectively.

Let's give Solari some credit for the strong play of Huard and the entire offense.

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Other than that, everything is great, except for the latest rash of injuries. The Chiefs have pulled themselves well out of the 0-2 hole, and are poised to make the playoff push. Four of the remaining eight teams are under .500, and the Chiefs play the teams with winning records at home. Things are beginning to come together for Herm's team, as long as they don't make any mistakes, and develop a killer instinct.

There are two games looming on the Chiefs' schedule. They'll be playing the Chargers in San Diego in a divisional matchup and they'll be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars in Arrowhead, a game that will probably decide a playoff spot or a seeding. The Chiefs will have to shore up their conference record, but have two winnable games against the Raiders and the one against the Browns in Cleveland.

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Tamba Hali's injury showed exactly how important he's become to the Chiefs. This Chiefs team feeds off its newly found pass rush, and Hali is the key to it. Without Hali, teams can adjust to focusing on Jared Allen, it was much easier for the Rams to throw on the Chiefs once he went down. Eric Hicks showed his age filling in for Hali. On one play in particular, Hicks came free and should have had the sack on Marc Bulger, but couldn't muster the speed to get there.

Luckily for the Chiefs, Hali didn't look too bad after the game, so early speculation is that Hali will play in Miami next Sunday.

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John Welbourn saw his first action after his suspension and looked good at times, but mostly looked terrible. That's to be expected after he missed training camp and the first seven games of the season. Both of St. Louis' sacks on Huard could be attributed directly to Welbourn.

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It's not which team stays healthy that matters, but how a team deals with the injuries it'll inevitably get. The Chiefs lost a few guys this week, and it'll be interesting how the reserve guys will step into new roles. On the hot seat is Keyaron Fox. Derrick Johnson looks to be the one of theworst off of the injured players, having left the locker room on crutches. Fox, who was sidelined with calf cramps, better prepare this week in the film room. Athletically, he's there, but he needs to bring the mental aspect to his game.

He's a bright young man, and he knows the defense, so he should be fine.

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