"We just don't want them to start with us."
Vermeil, in fact, is still smarting from the 24-17 loss his team absorbed in its finale at Qualcomm last year when the Chargers didn't play Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson and several other key players while resting them for the impending playoffs.
"We went out and played what I thought was the worst game we played all year," he said. "That still hangs in my memory. I don't anticipate our team being in that frame of mind or playing like that again."
Kansas City will have no excuse not to play better in this first of two games against the defending division champs.
The Chargers and Chiefs have everything to play for this time -- something neither team could say last Jan. 2 as one team earned a playoff berth and the other was finishing its losing season.
Losses last week by division leader Denver and the Chargers put the 3-4 Chargers behind the eight ball and the 4-2 Chiefs in the thick of the hunt, just one-half game (and a tiebreaker) behind the Broncos. The Chiefs may respect the Chargers but the Bolts need the win to stay within reach of their divisional opponents.
"We are below .500," an animated Steve Foley said. "We are going to have to prove some things to ourselves."
The Chiefs, after this game, will not play another divisional opponent on the road the rest of the year.
The Chargers, meanwhile, will have to go to Arrowhead to play in early December.
While San Diego may be down, they are clearly not out according to their rivals.
"They did lead our division in terms of being division champs and that speaks a lot," running back Priest Holmes cautioned. "They have a number of players there that are definitely capable of making that big play.
"I think one thing they can do in terms of bouncing back and hopefully they don't do this the week after we play them is just to focus on the things that have gotten them there and that just being consistent and running the ball with RB LaDainian Tomlinson."