Five to Watch: Chiefs-Chargers II

Sunday's game against the Chargers won't be easy for the Chiefs, especially after the loss of Lamar Hunt. This game is critical to the boys in red, who still hold out hope for a playoff spot, but with the events of the last 24 hours the team has to play with a heavy heart.

Hunt would not have wanted his players to fret over his departure. He'd want them to get back on the horse and win a football game for him.

That's exactly what I expect this team to do on Sunday.

We'll see how the heart pumps for this football team. They'll either rise to the occasion or fall flat in front of a national television audience. My guess is that they'll rise to the challenge and shock the NFL, the Chargers and Chiefs fans by playing their best game of the season.

That might seem crazy to some, but this has been a crazy season in the NFL. Strange things have happened and even the best teams stumble once or twice.

The Chiefs enter this game with question marks on both sides of the ball. The offense struggled against the Baltimore Ravens and the defense gave up more big plays.

But the Chargers, winners of seven straight, have given up a lot of points during the streak. Their secondary isn't all that talented and they've ridden the waves created by their fantastic front seven. San Diego has the second-best defense in the league.

But since the Chiefs beat them in October they've gone from the top-ranked defense to eighth. That fall hasn't gone unnoticed by the coaching staff in Kansas City.

The Chiefs offense, led by Trent Green, has a lot at stake. It's important for the final three games that they get back on track and find some consistency.

They also know that San Diego's offense has been receiving most of the accolades in the division thanks to LaDanian Tomlinson. He's a lock for the MVP, but the Chiefs don't want to hear any of that this week.

Kansas City has their own stud running back in Larry Johnson, who is due for a big game. This is his time to shine in the national spotlight and he's owned the San Diego Chargers the last two years.

Green had a difficult game in San Diego a year ago. It was his first game after the death of his father, Jim. I'm sure he wants to redeem himself.

The players on KC's defense have to trust one another if they're going to start making plays again. The failure of the defense the last two weeks has been the inability to stop offenses on third downs. They either allow a big play, fail to make a tackle or committ inopportune penalties that sustain drives.

That can't happen Sunday night. With Herm Edwards contemplating changes in personnel, players like linebacker Kendrell Bell and safety Greg Wesley need to live up to their teammates' expectations. Both have been maligned this season and each has not been able to make the kind of plays that the coaching staff was hoping they'd make.

The bottom line is that the Chiefs have to dig deep on both sides of the ball. On the sidelines and in the coaching box they have to make better decisions. It's time to throw away the game plans that featured a semi-conservative offense and a bland defensive attack.

They need to do something different because the Chiefs must win three games in a row if they want to get into the postseason. Not many think they can win on Sunday, but I'm not one of those people.

It's time for the players to rise and fight like Lamar Hunt did for them year after year. They need to be accountable and come out fired up, ready to dismantle the San Diego Chargers.

Five to Watch:
1. PR Dante Hall - Nobody has been more critical of the former ‘Human Joystick' than myself, but I'm going to give him some props. I think he's due to find the end zone.

2. RB Larry Johnson - He's been very quiet the last two weeks. I think LJ relishes the chance to go against Tomlinson. In fact, I think he knows that he needs to carry this team on his back the remainder of the season. It all starts with a winning performance against the Chargers.

3. WR Eddie Kennison - The Chiefs' top receiving threat usually thrives against San Diego's average secondary. He's been solid all season long and he needs to step up and play big Sunday night. He's one of those veterans who gives it everything he has on every play. He needs to lead by example and set the tone for the rest of his teammates.

4. DC Gunther Cunningham - I'm not sure where the old Cunningham has gone the last two weeks, but I want him back. He needs to put away the mirrors and go back to the basics. It's time to attack, attack, attack. He knows the Chargers better than anyone and he can't play it safe. If the Chiefs hit Tomlinson in the mouth, they can make it a game in the fourth quarter.

5. HC Herm Edwards - He's been preaching all season that he has a plan. He's more than ready for the challenge of this game. He's 4-1 lifetime against Marty Schottenheimer, including a playoff road win in San Diego. He's confident that his team will prevail when they need him most, and I expect him to step up and lead the charge Sunday night.

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