Five to Watch: Chargers vs. Titans

RB Michael Turner (Donald Miralle/Getty)

The Chargers are not making guarantees, but a win is all they see heading to the South. LT holds his finger in the wind and says it is championship weather. Here are five key players to watch for in Sunday's playoff drive.

The Chargers hope to find a tune they like in their first trip to Nashville's LP Field. Philip Rivers expects a playoff atmosphere. With a win over the Titans (7-5) and a loss by the Broncos in Kansas City, the Chargers will once again clench a spot for in the second season.

Big Five

1. LaDainian Tomlinson: Despite facing the seventh best run defense in the league, Tomlinson will carry the torch. The Chargers will look to Tomlinson to continue his hot streak. More than 3,000 career rushing yards in December gives him the lead for all active running backs. The chill of championship weather is why he feels that he plays best in the year's final month.

Last time: The Chargers defeated the Titans, 40-7, at Qualcomm. Tomlinson scored two touchdowns in the second quarter.

2. Michael Turner: His minimal reps this season testify to the lack of faith in Tomlinson's backup. Turner's highest number of carries this season sits at 10. His record indicates he has the ability to break through. The Chargers are 4-0 when he gets at least five attempts.

The Titans nearly pulled off a draft-day trade that would have put Turner on the opposing sideline. They held high Super Bowl hopes and thought Turner could get them there. San Diego does not hold him in that same regard. A.J. Smith confirmed in the offseason that there was a possibility of Turner wearing a Titans jersey.

Last time: "The Burner" made an appearance. Turner rushed for 138 yards on 13 carries.

3. Albert Haynesworth: The Chargers' offense will grapple with the 320-lb. Haynesworth. He made his first appearance in last week's game after three weeks of injury (hamstring). Haynesworth has the ability to dominate in the trenches. He can take on Kris Dielman and Nick Hardwick by himself. Haynesworth sat out Thursday's practice but is expected to be in Sunday's lineup.

Last time: Haynesworth struggled and recorded only one tackle. However,he appears to be a different player this year, no doubt because he is in a contract year.

4. Shawne Merriman: He looks for his third consecutive game with at least one sack. This week, Merriman faces the most mobile quarterback yet. San Diego should have no problem pressuring Vince Young to pass. He has compiled fewer than 2,000 passing yards, the fifth fewest of any starter. Young has endured 19 sacks this year, three more than Rivers.

Last time: Merriman contributed with one tackle and one assist. He was unable to sack Young. Merriman only failed to record a sack in three games last season.

5. Antonio Cromartie:His eight interceptions lead the league. If Cromartie can intercept Peyton Manning three times, then picking off Young should be a piece of cake. VY has 14 picks against seven touchdowns. Cromartie has been one to watch since training camp, when he was the first player on the field and last to leave.

Last time: Cromartie recorded one solo tackle and two assists.

QB troubles all around…

"When you are a young player sometimes there isn't the consistency, we obviously know that from our situation," said Norv Turner of Vince Young.

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