Five to Watch: Chargers vs. Chiefs

With the monkey off their backs after a rousing 14-6 victory at Washington last Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs have an opportunity to win back-to-back games before heading into their bye week. What is it going to take to beat the San Diego Chargers Sunday?

Are the Chargers really all that much better than the Chiefs? San Diego has more talent, but I'm no Norv Turner fan and he may be on his his last season in Southern California. There is no question the Chargers have underachieved this season.

The Chiefs have to build on their ugly victory last weekend and turn it into another win. If this team is going to turn a corner, they need to start winning games as ugly as they did last weekend. They need to physically beat up their opponents and show that killer mentality that has been gone since Marty Schottenheimer was head coach.

Todd Haley has to prove he's worthy to coach this team. The message he's been preaching and the hard-nosed approach he's instilled has to yield more wins. Some players are still not happy with the head coach. Linebacker Derrick Johnson, who is still being treated as if he is a backup and not a starter, needs to be back playing.

The Haley ‘Dog House' experiments need to end now. It's not working. The best players have to play even if their personality clashes with the head coach. He can't worry about that now. Jamaal Charles, who was offered in trade to the Washington Redskins before the trade deadline, needs reps with KC's first-team offense.

This weekend might be the turning point for Haley. He needs to start coaching as if every game is a playoff game or, in my opinion, an audition to get another year in Kansas City. Until he takes that approach, I'm not sure his team can turn the corner.

But a win Sunday would take the edge off and could raise expectations and morale inside the locker room.

Five To Watch:

1. WR Dwayne Bowe - We saw his coming out party last Sunday at Washington. Bowe is KC's most valuable offensive weapon and he needs to be utilized even more than he was last week. Virtually every team to date has put a single man on Bowe and the Chargers, known for bump-and-run coverage, can be torched Sunday. Bowe has to be the man and you also have to think he wants to atone for the missed onside kick that resulted in San Diego squeaking out a one-point win last December.

2. DT Ron Edwards - His emergence as the most consistent defensive lineman in Kansas City is shocking. He's showing that he can be a force in the middle and that's something I didn't think he could do. He's the best player in the middle of a struggling defensive line.

3. QB Matt Cassel - He was solid last week and continues to make good decisions. He found Bowe last week despite being pummeled by the Redskins' front seven. I like the fact he stays in the pocket, takes one hit after another and holds the ball as he tries to make a big play. I was down on him early but I think he might be the better quarterback on the field Sunday. Let's hope he can prove that by beating the Chargers.

4. TE Leonard Pope - I want this to serve as a breakout game for the former Arizona Cardinal. The Chiefs must find ways to get him more involved in the offense. The team is suffering at the tight end position and though he's not a blocker, he has great hands and deserves the attention of his quarterback. He has skills that can be used in the Red Zone where the Chiefs have struggled at times this season. He should also be a solid option on third down.

5. CB Brandon Flowers - He's been off his game a bit and been beaten for some big plays the last several weeks. He's KC's only true shutdown corner and I'd like to see him be more physical off the line of scrimmage. I'm sure he's close to if not 100 percent healthy, but we've not seen that big game out of him that has many hoping he can indeed be one of the best corners in the league. He has that kind of talent but thus far in 2009 he's not been as steady as he was in 2008. Sunday could change all that.

Week 7 NFL Predictions

San Diego 19 @ Kansas City 31

New York Jets 13 @ Oakland 17

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