Keys to the Game

Trent Green (getty Images)

The Chargers prepare to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at arrowhead Stadium. A loss this week will end the playoff hopes for the Chargers and it will all come down to execution.

Offense vs. the crowd

With 100 consecutive sellouts, Kansas City fans have made life miserable for opposing offenses. Over the last 12 years the Chiefs have built one of the NFL's loudest fan bases.

That will lead to trouble for the young Charger offense. In week 10 against the Rams the team faced the loudest crowd of the year. They responded by committing nine penalties for either false starts, delay of games or holdings. In eight of the Chargers 10 offensive possessions they were flagged for either a false start or holding.

"Their crowd deserves a significant portion of this success. I've never been in an arena that had the kind of noise that they had out there today," said Coach Marty Schottenheimer at the time.

Just wait until he visits his old stomping grounds on Sunday.

There is no real way to simulate crowd noise during practice. It comes down to game-time. How will the team respond?

The team must be prepared for it and must have faith in each other, know the call in the huddle and execute based on the snap count. That will lead to the potential for plays. There is nothing more disheartening than losing yards on penalties which contribute to the end of drives. If they can limit penalties and score quick to start the game, they will neutralize the twelfth man.

Trent Green

The Chargers secondary responded against a tough matchup last week in Buffalo, but it does not get any easier from week to week. With Priest Holmes out this Sunday, the focus must be on Green and the receivers.

All World tight end Tony Gonzalez will be a favorite target of Green's. Gonzo has seven receiving TDs and ranks second on the club in both catches (53) and receiving yardage (673). Donnie Edwards will again try and blanket him in coverage. Edwards held Gonzo to just two catches in the first matchup.

Marc Boerigter, the Chiefs second tight end, caught two touchdowns in the first matchup. He will again be a target as he gets more favorable matchups as the Chargers hone in on Gonzo.

The Kansas City receivers are a little banged up but fast. That creates problems for the Chargers secondary which has been a step slow most of the year.

It will start up front. Last week they delivered constant pressure on Drew Bledsoe. To be successful and help out the secondary, the defensive line must again create pressure and force the hand of Trent Green.

The problem is they face off against Pro Bowlers Willie Roaf and Will Shields on the offensive line. No easy task but with the playoffs on the line, the Chargers must play with all their heart and determination.

It will come down to who wants it more in the end.

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