The opening paragraph was a dead give-away, right? Surely I'm talking about Larry Johnson, Damon Huard, Dwayne Bowe or Jared Allen. You're wrong. It's not a player. It's the head coach.
This game is all on Herm Edwards.
If there is any coach who can pull out a must-win victory in San Diego, it's Edwards. He did it with the Jets in the playoffs and if he wants his Chiefs team to get to that promised land again like he did a year ago, he must pull out all the stops to beat the Chargers on Sunday.
The Chiefs need to throw conventional wisdom out the window and play this game with a care-free, take-no-prisoners approach. They need to hit San Diego in the mouth on both sides of the ball and keep the throttle at full speed for 60 minutes.
The winner of Sunday's AFC West battle might end up as the team with a home game in the playoffs as the division winner.
The Broncos are a shell of their former self. Mike Shanahan knows his defense is not good this year and his young quarterback is only as good as he was at the end of last season.
The Raiders are the Raiders, and despite a young, dynamic coach, they're still not capable of winning more than four or six games.
That leaves the Chiefs and Chargers, who have the two best defenses, running backs, tight ends and pass rushers in the division. The comparisons are eerily similar.
Where they differ is at head coach. Norv Turner is an offensive genius while Edwards has the ability to rally his troops and lead them into any venue.
Kansas City's road woes have been pitiful the last decade. But in Edwards' second season in New York, his team went 7-1 away from the Meadowlands. If he can get four wins out of this group this season, everyone will hail him as the second coming of Hank Stram.
Edwards has been waiting for a big game like this since he took the job from his friend Dick Vermeil. This game could validate all of his decisions to date in regards to the coaching staff, players and overall direction of the team. If the Chiefs win this weekend, it may finally get the fan base to believe Edwards is the man who will one day lead the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl.
I've always been of the opinion that if everyone leaves Edwards alone and allows him to do things his way, he'll eventually hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
To take a step in that direction, he needs to lead his Chiefs to victory on Sunday against a beatable San Diego Chargers team.
Five To Watch:
1. TE Tony Gonzalez - I'm tired of hearing about how Antonio Gates is the league's premier tight. He's not. Anyone who watched last week's game against the Minnesota Vikings knows Gonzalez has plenty left in the tank. I believe he's capable of logging a 100-yard game this weekend. The Chargers can't double both Gonzalez and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. That bodes well for the tight end, who also won't have to worry about Donnie Edwards patrolling the middle of San Diego's defense.
2. RB Larry Johnson - It's time for LJ to step out of the shadows and show why he was worth all the loot the Chiefs gave him last August. He's nicked up with a sore hamstring, but that shouldn't stop him. His job is to wear down San Diego's defense, and even if he only gains a couple of yards per carry that works in the Chiefs favor. It will open up the passing game, and that might be where the Chiefs find their gold this week.
3. LB Donnie Edwards - The Chargers were foolish to let Edwards roll out of town without even a sniff of effort to resign him. He's been the missing piece to this defense that now sits as the NFL's fourth best through three weeks. Edwards can do it all, and nobody knows San Diego's offense better than he.
4. K Dave Rayner - This game will be tight, and in the fourth quarter Kansas City's new kicker may have to nail a long field goal on the Padres' infield dirt. He's done a great job through two games and made everyone forget about the kid from UCLA. Now he needs to show his team that in a pressure situation, he can kick a game-winner on foreign sand.
5. ST Coach Mike Priefer - On Sunday he'll get one of his toys back in Boomer Grigsby, who will play the wedge on kickoff and punt teams. The hardest job for Priefer is that until he gets to the stadium on Sundays, he's not sure who's active. Last week he made the decision to go with Turk McBride on special teams in the wedge, and he was dynamite. He also moved safety Bernard Pollard back to rushing the punter, and it's only a matter of time before that move yields a blocked punt for the Chiefs. If he can get return man Eddie Drummond on track while players like Boomer and McBride plow the road, it will pay dividends. He's done an outstanding job with the other specialists in punter Dustin Colquitt and the aforementioned Rayner. Now it's up to the worker bees on special teams to make even more magic.
Prediction: Chiefs 19, Chargers 17
Five To Watch: KC's Super Bowl
WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories
Three Backfields With Question MarksEvery week, Fantasy Football Expert Mark Morales-Smith examines the most turbulent backfields in the NFL to help decipher whether or not there are any Fantasy stars in the making..…
Chiefs Put Justin Houston on PUP ListWith roster cuts looming, the Kansas City Chiefs have placed All Pro linebacker Justin Houston on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, meaning he won’t be able to return to…
Schwartz Brothers in Kansas City Makes SenseOn Tuesday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs will complete their first roster purge of the week. In order to get down to the league limit of 75 players, the Chiefs who cut eight…
Berry Signs as Chiefs Begin Roster CutsOn Sunday All Pro Safety Eric Berry, signed his one-year tender. That means today the Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff will get their first on field glimpse of their starting…
Chiefs Acquire CB Kenneth Acker from 49ersShortly after the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Chicago Bears on Saturday afternoon, the team announced they had acquired Cornerback, Kenneth Acker, from the San Francisco 49ers.…