Todd Haley's Kansas City Chiefs Can Make It Two in a Row Against Chargers

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Todd Haley's Kansas City Chiefs Can Make It Two in a Row Against Chargers
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

This past Sunday, head coach Todd Haley and his Chiefs put another nail in the coffin of Jim Zorn as Washington's head coach. This week, the previously winless Haley has an opportunity to do the same thing to another coach on the hotseat in San Diego's Norv Turner.

The 2-3 Chargers have disappointed thus far, and all eyes are on Turner. For Turner, who was fired after encountering similar situations in his previous head coaching stops in Washington and Oakland, this is nothing new. His Chargers teams have started slow the past two seasons and have rallied to win the division each time.

However with each loss, team leaders like LaDainian Tomlinson and General Manager A.J. Smith lose more and more faith in their head coach. With a floundering running game on offense and a meager pass-rush on defense, it's a miracle Turner hasn't lost this group already. 

Enter Haley, who could expedite Turner's exit out of San Diego if his team can come up with a win at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. 

Unlike Turner, and Zorn a week before him, Haley is in the midst of his honeymoon period with the Chiefs and isn't on the hotseat after his 0-5 start, nor is he concerned about a mutiny amongst his players.

Instead, Haley has the full support of General Manager Scott Pioli and he is slowly but surely succeeding in transforming a once hopeless attitude at One Arrowhead Drive back into a winning one. 

This Sunday, one week after his first victory as a head coach, Haley's players will be fighting harder than ever to give him his second Gatorade shower in as many weeks. 

On the other sideline, a twice fired Turner will be fighting to keep his Chargers from giving up on him and putting him on the fast-track to unemployment.

Here are the Chiefs keys to victory this Sunday:

1. Chargers linebackers Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips, who combined for 49 1/2 sacks between 2006 and 2007, have yet to register a sack this season. For the Chiefs to win, they must keep quarterback Matt Cassel upright and give him time to complete throws down the field.

2. Chiefs linebackers and safeties must keep Antonio Gates in check. Gates, at 6'4" and 260 pounds creates a difficult mismatch against strong safety Mike Brown and will be an absolute nightmare for nickelbacks Maurice Leggett and Donald Washington.

3. Tamba Hali and the Chiefs defensive front seven must get to quarterback Phillip Rivers. If Rivers is allowed time to exploit mismatches with Gates and Vincent Jackson, it will be a long day once again for the Chiefs pass defense.

4. Tomlinson and Sproles have not played a big role running the ball in any of the Chargers games this season. For the Chiefs to keep this one close, they must not allow either back to break off any big runs.

Most of all, the Chiefs must believe they can win on Sunday. In a game where the guys on the other sideline are second-guessing their coach, and possibly themselves, a confident Chiefs team could help Haley notch his second win.

This game should be close, and if Cassel and the offense can find their stride, it could be a relatively high-scoring affair.

 

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