The Kansas City Chiefs look to snap their four game losing streak Sunday when they travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals. Can the visitors finally pick up their fourth win of the season as they look to pick up some momentum going into the offseason? Will the Bengals punch their ticket to the playoffs by clinching the AFC North?
Here are three players (Offense, Defense and Special Teams) from each team to keep your eyes on.
Offense: Jamaal Charles
The Chiefs passing game finally got going last week with Matt Cassel going over 300 yards for the first time this season, but Kansas City needs to control the clock this week. In order to do that they will need to lean on Charles, their only viable running back. If Todd Haley wants to keep Cedric Benson, Larry Johnson and the Bengals rushing attack on the sidelines and help his defense survive he will need 25-30 carries out of his young running back.
These final two games are also a chance for Charles to get over 1,000 yards for the season, an amazing feat for a player that did not start a game until Week 9. To get over that threshold Charles will need 241 yards over the final two games of the season, a number that is very much attainable for a player that has averaged nearly 150 yards the past couple of weeks.
Defense: Glenn Dorsey
He is listed as questionable on the Chiefs injury report, but has practiced all week and should be ready to go on Sunday. And boy is he needed.
Following one of the most embarrassing performances a defense will ever have, the return of Dorsey could not come at a better time. One man is not going to turn Kansas City into a top notch rushing defense, but before he injured his knee against the Broncos he was starting to be a force to be reckoned with. If the Chiefs have any hope of putting up a respectable effort in Cincinnati they need to get something, anything done on the defensive line with Dorsey being a huge factor.
Special Teams: Dustin Colquitt
Colquitt rebounded nicely last week from one of his worst performances as a Chief and would be well served to repeat that effort against the Bengals. Last week he put 3 punts inside the 20 and prevented Josh Cribbs from getting anything going in the return game (something the kickoff coverage units failed miserably at). Early in the third quarter he pinned Cleveland inside their 15, giving the Chiefs defense a lot of field to work with. Two plays later Jerome Harrison went 71 yards for a touchdown and all of a sudden no one was talking about a long or short field, but instead Harrison’s run towards history.
For the Chiefs defense to try and somehow redeem themselves, it will start with Colquitt adding to his team record of punts inside the 20.
Offense: Larry Johnson
Sure, Cedric Benson is the starter and will get the majority of the carries as long as the game is close, but there are a whole lot of Chiefs fans that will be keeping their eyes on No. 27 all day long.
Winning is the most important thing each and every week, but a loss this week will not sting nearly as much as long as LJ has the kind of game he had earlier this season for the Chiefs. It may sound silly, but when a team has 3 wins and is once again locked in on a top 5 draft pick these are the type of things that will go a long way towards making this a Merry Christmas weekend.
Defense: Tom Nelson
After the legend of Boomer Grigsby (or even Casey Printers), Chiefs fans know all about players making their names based on an appearance on HBO’s “Hard Knocks”. For the Bengals that player is Nelson and unlike the Chiefs premium cable “stars”, he has made quite the impact in the defensive backfield for Cincinnati. He hits like a ton of bricks and always seems to find a way to be around the ball.
With starting FS Chris Crocker poised to miss his second straight game, Nelson will get another full game of snaps and a chance to expand on his “legend” in Cincinnati.
Special Teams: Kevin Huber
Just like Dustin Colquitt needs to force the Bengals offense to work with a long field, Huber will be looking to do the same to Kansas City. In the past two weeks Huber has failed to drop a punt inside the 20 and last week two of his kicks found their way into the end zone for a touchback.
The Chiefs have one of the worst punt return units in the league (26th), something that Huber can make go a long way as the Bengals look to clinch the AFC North.