Saturday walkthrough: Chargers at Chiefs

This is the 92nd meeting between the Chargers and Chiefs. The Chiefs lead the series, 47-43-1, but have won the past three meetings. The Chargers are trying to win in Kansas City for consecutive times for the first time since 1988-89, where they have lost seven of their last eight.

Nine of the past 10 meetings have been decided by eight points or less.

The first game between these two was the first games ever in their respective franchises. But at the time, the Chargers were playing in Los Angeles and the Chiefs were playing as the Dallas Texans.

The loser can pretty much kiss any remaining playoff hopes good-bye.

Kansas City is buoyed by the fact it has won its past 17 home games played in December, but in order to run it to 18 the Chiefs will have to fix the woeful tackling that has cost them dearly the past two weeks. San Diego RB LaDainian Tomlinson has been bothered by a rib injury down the stretch, but he will start against the Chiefs and be spelled by Michael Turner, as necessary. But Kansas City's main concern has to be TE Antonio Gates, who has averaged 6.7 receptions for 95.3 yards and two touchdowns in three career games against the Chiefs.

Offensively, Kansas City had three offensive linemen and RB Larry Johnson named to the Pro Bowl, and it will attempt to make headway against the Chargers' top-ranked run defense. Johnson's success on first or second down could prove to be the key because San Diego has emerged as one of the league's fiercest pass-rushing teams -- just ask Colts QB Peyton Manning.

Chargers: Have won the past three meetings. ... Seek first consecutive victories in Kansas City since 1988-89. ... Tomlinson needs one touchdown to set a new single-season franchise record (Chuck Muncie, 19, 1981).

Chiefs: Johnson has rushed for at least 100 yards in seven consecutive games. ... With one catch, TE Tony Gonzalez will tie Stephone Paige's franchise record of at least one reception in 83 consecutive games.

2005 RANKINGS: Chargers: offense 6th (5th rush, 10th pass); defense 15th (1st rush, 28th pass). Chiefs: offense 2nd (4th rush, 8th pass); defense 28th (9th rush, 31st pass)

PREDICTION: Chargers 31-28



LaDainian Tomlinson (ribs) practiced again and will go for as long as he can Saturday. Backup Michael Turner will likely spell him at some point.

Terrence Kiel (ankle) is out Saturday. Clinton Hart, who has been reliable both as a fill-in this season and in passing packages, replaces Kiel.

Eric Parker (foot) practiced and looks good for Saturday. If he has to step back, Reche Caldwell would replace him; Caldwell ran a wrong route last week in Indy which led to an interception. Keenan McCardell would take over Parker's punt-return duties if Parker is compromised.

Bhawoh Jue (knee) practiced and is questionable. He should play, however.

Vincent Jackson will be asked to contribute more on special teams and occasionally on passing downs. Injuries to Kassim Osgood and Eric Parker's shaky status has elevated Jackson, a second-round pick, into the picture.


Eddie Kennison took a nearly full load of practice reps Thursday in Kansas City's final major preparation for San Diego. Kennison, KC's leader in receiving yards, missed Tuesday and Wednesday workouts with a sprained left MCL, but coach Dick Vermeil says Kennison should be ready for Saturday's game with San Diego.

Eric Hicks, despite missing Tuesday's workout and much of Wednesday's after injuring his shoulder against the Giants last week, got a nearly full load of work Thursday and appears to be ready for the Chargers game Saturday.

Shawn Barber, a prospective play-making force on special teams, will likely miss a second straight game against the Chargers with a hamstring injury. Barber, a 2004 starter, missed the season's first 10 games while recovering from a 2004 knee injury.

Trent Green will put his perfect 10-0 record as a starter in December games at Arrowhead on the line against San Diego, which won in Kansas City last Nov. 28. Green connected on 31 of 43 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns in the Oct. 30 loss at San Diego, but most of his yardage came in the second half after the Chiefs had fallen behind 21-3 at halftime of an eventual 28-20 loss.

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