Kansas City Chiefs Vs. San Diego Chargers: KC's Season Success Hinges On Week 1

Brian Shannon@bshannon15Correspondent ISeptember 5, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 20:  Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs with the ball for yardage during their NFL game against the Cleveland Browns on December 20, 2009 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Browns defeated the Chiefs 41-34. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs must have a win in their season opener; encouraging losses no longer cut it.

Kansas City is currently a five-point underdog against its Week 1 opponent, San Diego.

The Chiefs have struggled to get out of the AFC West cellar the past three seasons, having won a total of just 10 games.

The Chiefs slopped their way through the preseason once again this year, finishing with a record of 1-3, and bringing coach Todd Haley's preseason record to 1-7 in Kansas City.

The preseason is not a great barometer of how a team's season will go, but it seemed to peg the Chiefs early last season as a team in turmoil.

The Chiefs followed up their winless preseason with just four wins in the regular season.

Kansas City is hoping to reverse that trend this season, and it all starts with the game against the Chargers.

San Diego will be without two of its top players when the Bolts travel to Arrowhead Stadium, and the Chiefs must take advantage.

Left tackle Marcus McNeill and wide receiver Vincent Jackson are both holding out in San Diego, which is just fine with the rest of the AFC West.

Jackson led the Chargers receiving corps last season with 1,167 yards and nine touchdowns.

McNeill is the most important member of the Chargers' offensive line, but he will not be there to protect Philip Rivers' blindside when they take on the Chiefs.

Last season, the Chiefs were blown out in both games against San Diego, getting outscored 80-21, but the Chiefs have reason to be optimistic that they can turn the tide in their favor this season.

Kansas City had a very promising draft, taking free safety Eric Berry with the fifth pick. The Chiefs also got dynamic players in the second round with their selections of wide receiver/running back Dexter McCluster and corner back Javier Arenas.

The Chiefs were torched through the air last season by the Chargers as Rivers threw for nearly 600 yards in the two games combined.

Berry should improve the Chiefs defense this season by limiting some of the big plays that the team gave up last season. Mike Brown put up solid numbers last year, but was a speed liability, giving up long gains far too often.

With the addition of Berry for Kansas City, and the subtraction of Jackson from the Chargers lineup, the Chiefs' defense should be in a much better position for success this time around.

The Chiefs offense is supposed to be the strength of the team this season, particularly the running game, and they will need to come out firing against the Chargers.

Running back Jamaal Charles looked good during the preseason, showing the same burst that Chief fans became accustomed to during the second half of last year's campaign.

Thomas Jones adds another strong runner to the Chiefs backfield, and McCluster gives the Chiefs' offense even more versatility.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe looked very good during the preseason, as Chief fans hope he can put last year's disappointing season behind him.

The key to the Chiefs' offense will be quarterback Matt Cassel and the Chiefs' ability to hold onto the football. If the Chiefs can win the turnover battle against the Chargers, then they should have a great chance to win the game.

Arrowhead Stadium will be rocking, and the Chiefs will come ready to play.

Kansas City will get a much-needed victory in Week 1 over a division rival.