Five to Watch: Chiefs vs Chargers

With a four-game losing streak that includes three losses at Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Chiefs play a critical game against last year's AFC West champion, the San Diego Chargers, tomorrow. The 2007 season hangs in the balance as they attempt to make the playoffs the only way they can, by winning the division outright.

I'm torn this weekend, because it would be nice to see the Chiefs play well and still lose. They'd move to 4-8 and could be in a position to secure a top five draft pick this April.

On the other hand, a win would be nice. The Chiefs could crawl back into the race and Herm Edwards could lead his team to another improbable playoff appearance.

Both scenarios have merit, but with 11 picks the Chiefs can acquire more playmakers in the draft and go a long way to getting over the hump. The higher the pick in each round, the better.

Moving back to the game, it's strange that these two teams have headed in different directions since October. The Chargers have won five of their last seven games and the Chiefs have lost five of their last seven. The magic is gone in Kansas City, as the sea of red has grown tired of poor play.

And that's the heart of the issue right now - the fans. We all want the Chiefs to win and we all want them to beat the Chargers. So with only two home games left this season, the players can make a statement to the fans who will watch those games from the comfort of their own homes instead of buying tickets.

What kind of statement? Safety Bernard Pollard, who spoke with Mike Nugent in the locker room this week, said it best.

"Don't be surprised if we win them all," Pollard said, referring to the Chiefs' final five games.

I can see it happening. Nine wins would likely take the AFC West. If tomorrow's game is the start of something great, I hope at least there are lots of Chiefs fans in the house to see it.

Five To Watch:

1. QB Damon Huard - He's under a microscope this Sunday, because this will likely be his last hurrah in Kansas City. I can't see Huard back next season, because I believe the Chiefs will lure Chad Pennington away from the New York Jets. Despite that, Huard is a soldier and a great guy. He's made Kansas City his home, and even though he hasn't had the season he would have liked, Sunday could be a fine ending to his career as a starter in Kansas City if he knocks off the Chargers.

2. LB Napoleon Harris - Where has he been the last four games? When he came over from the Vikings, a local reporter from Minnesota who covered the Vikings at times told me Harris had a bad habit of not showing up in certain games. Kansas City's new middle linebacker was flying all over the field through seven weeks, but lately has been out of position quite a bit. He needs to make tackles Sunday, because if your middle linebacker isn't doing the job, that makes it hard on the outside linebackers. If Derrick Johnson and Donnie Edwards are worried about Harris missing his assignments or vacating a gap, KC's defense will continue to give up rushing yards as it did against the Raiders.

3. P Dustin Colquitt - He's certainly my choice for defensive player of the year, but he's really struggled the last two weeks. Colquitt won't admit it, but he has to be tired. He's hammered the ball 62 times in 11 games. He told me his poor showing against the Colts had something to do with the K-Balls they used at the RCA Dome, but against the Raiders he just had an off day for the most part. Sunday he'll be the key to setting up San Diego's offense in poor field position. Every yard matters the way the Chiefs play football, so Colquitt could be the key tomorrow.

4. RB Kolby Smith - Smith has an opportunity to build on a great debut, but he goes from facing a bad run defense (Oakland's) to a good one (San Diego's). Despite that, the Chargers have been vulnerable at times this year - if they're going to stop Smith, they must keep backside containment. Otherwise, KC's rookie runner could have another good day. With Larry Johnson's return likely against Denver a week from Sunday, this is an important game for Smith, who will undoubtedly be the number two tailback in 2008.

5. PK John Carney - What can you truly ask of a 43-year old kicker? If you're the Chiefs, everything. Carney might be the most solid of all the kickers the Chiefs ran in and out of Arrowhead this year. He's someone who won't give you much distance on his kicks, but from 40 yards and in, he's nails. I'm not sure why the Chiefs signed Dave Rayner instead of Carney, but the kicking issue will continue to be a problem for this football team unless Carney feels he can continue at age 44 next season.

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