Five To Watch: Chiefs v. Dolphins

The Chiefs will try and win back-to-back games on the road for the first time in awhile this Sunday. Last week the good guys in red beat a good football team in a hostile environment. Granted, the St. Louis crowd clearly had a red flavor, but the Chiefs did their job and won a game that symbolizes everything Herm Edwards is trying to accomplish.

This weekend he might have to get even more out his players if he wants to beat Miami.

It's interesting that so much talk this week centered on the quarterback controversy. The media keeps asking the same questions about what Edwards will do when Trent Green is deemed healthy. That question won't be answered this weekend. Damon Huard returns to the helm of the Chiefs offense, and on Sunday he'll take the field at a stadium he called home for four seasons.

Huard, who signed onto Miami's practice squad in 1997, played in Miami until 2000. Now he gets to go back to the scene of his first NFL gig and show the south beach fans what they missed when they let him depart without making any effort to sign him.

Unlike last week, Huard will be under a lot of pressure, because the spotlight is squarely on his shoulders. This story is no longer a local one, as it has hit the national media. The debate has been raging since Huard has run Mike Solari's offense to perfection.

Winning this game won't be an easy chore for Huard or the rest of his teammates. Kansas City might have to play their best game of the season to escape Miami with a 6-3 record.

The Dolphins shocked the Bears in Chicago a week ago, defeating what many believe is the cream of the crop in the NFC. That whipped topping served up six turnovers, so it's easy to see why Miami won the game. The Dolphins deserve credit, but even the Oakland Raiders would have won that game had they benefited from so many mistakes.

In the NFL those presents don't show up in bunches, and that's really the key for this game. Many fans have been wondering when the Chiefs will have one of those games. They had one of them in Pittsburgh, but it was the defense that let the team down. The Chiefs did everything wrong in Pittsburgh and the Bears did the same last Sunday in Chicago.

That is what makes this game so much fun to watch as a fan. It's also amazing that many believe the Chiefs are not the best team in this matchup. That's ridiculous.

The Dolphins have averaged one win a month thus far in 2006. The Chiefs have five wins in that same time frame. The bottom line is Kansas City is a better offensive team and has more playmakers on defense.

The Chiefs have a veteran secondary that should force quarterback Joey Harrington into throwing more errant passes than accurate ones. Harrington has never won a game as a starter when throwing for more than 300 yards. Since the Chiefs are outstanding against the run, that yardage might be something he'll need just to keep Miami in the game.

Despite the fact the Chiefs won in Miami last year in a Friday night pre-hurricane contest, they generally leave Florida with a loss. This time, the Chiefs can't have any lulls in their attack.

The Chiefs have won three in a row and five of their last six. Only one has been a blowout, and the Dolphins are talented enough that they can make the Chiefs pay if they're complacent.

This will be Edwards' most difficult assignment as the new leader of this football team. The Chiefs started the week as the favorite, but the odds makers changed their tune and Miami is now a slight favorite.

The good thing for the Chiefs is that they won't go into this game disrespecting the Dolphins. On the other hand, Miami might be feeling a bit bigger in their britches than they have a right to with only a pair of wins.

That might be their downfall in this game. If the Chiefs can be patient and run the offense like they've done the last three weeks while stopping the run, Kansas City should come back home with their fourth straight win.

Five to Watch:
1. RT Kyle Turley - I'm not sure what game Chiefs fans were watching last weekend in St. Louis, but I think Kyle Turley played the best right tackle since John Tait owned the position a year ago. Turley is undersized and has a bad back but appears to have a stronghold on the right tackle position for the interim. If he continues to play well, when Kevin Sampson returns there won't be much of a controversy. Turley, as long as his back holds up, could keep the job for the remainder of the season.

2. LB Keyaron Fox - It's time for ‘Key,' and he'll get his chance to shine. With Derrick Johnson likely out for the next two games, this is his audition to claim a starting spot. It won't be DJ's, but it could be Kendrell Bell's spot. Though Bell has played better this season, Fox has better range, speed and hitting ability. The problem for him is the Chiefs have a lot of money invested in Bell, and for good or bad, he's the starter. But all that could change if Fox can play like many think he can. Herm Edwards won't hesitate making the switch if it'll make his team better, but Fox has to take it and on Sunday in Miami, he'll get that chance.

3. QB Damon Huard - I know we've talked this to death, but I think Huard has a gleam in his eye about this game. He had a different swagger about him this week. He has an opportunity to shove his game right smack into the heart of a Dolphins' organization that felt Jay Fiedler was a better fit to run the Miami offense. If he wins on Sunday, he'll gain a new respect around the country, even further clouding Edwards' pending decision about what to do when Green is ready.

4. DE Jimmy Wilkerson - Tamba Hali will be back in the starting lineup on Sunday. With Eric Hicks struggling, Wilkerson needs to continue his strong play. Last weekend in St. Louis, with Hali out of the lineup, the pass rush became extinct. Hali's importance to this defense is immeasurable, but the Chiefs need Wilkerson to step up his game. He's in his fourth year in the NFL and has the opportunity to earn even more playing time. It's time this former Oklahoma Sooner standout makes even more contributions to the defense.

5. Herm Edwards - He's made the list before, but this is a game that most everyone thinks the Chiefs will lose. Let's face it, the Chiefs have been hot, and with two AFC West showdowns coming up, Edwards' team might let down a bit this weekend. It's natural to think that because past Chiefs teams have stunk it up in Miami. But the key difference will be coaching. Edwards has been criticized for many things, but defeating teams who are inferior on paper isn't one of them. Last week there was little doubt the Chiefs would win, but this week there are signs everywhere that Kansas City might wilt in the Sunshine state. I think this is the one game where Edwards will out-coach his counterpart, Nick Saban. This game will be won in the fourth quarter and it'll be Edwards who makes the key call in crunch time.

Nick's Prediction
Chiefs 26, Dolphins 17 Top Stories