Chiefs provide perfect opponent

It's the perfect opponent for a San Diego Chargers team which is celebrating one of the most celebrated games in team history.

The Chargers are winning and San Diego is still buzzing about clinching the AFC West title and LaDainian Tomlinson setting the NFL touchdown mark on Sunday. The Chargers' spot in the postseason is assured and at 11-2, nobody has a better mark.

So the Chargers might be an easy mark on Sunday, more concerned about what they've accomplished than what lies ahead.

Except the team coming to San Diego is Kansas City, the last team to slap a loss on the Chargers.

"It's good timing, I guess is the way to put it," said quarterback Philip Rivers of the Chiefs 30-27 verdict over the Chargers. "Kansas City is coming to town and they beat us early in the year. They are playing for a ton, as are we. They are coming in here as hungry as ever.

"And we have a lot to play for and I think that is what we understand. So I think it is a perfect timing coming off the high we are coming off of to having a Kansas City team come in here.

"That loss still hurts in a way and we will be ready for them."

Coach Marty Schottenheimer said among his playoff-bound team's attributes is its ability to concentrated from week to week.

"Our guys have maintained focus throughout," he said. "But I think Kansas City still has an opportunity to get into the tournament and I would be less than candid if I was to say to you the fact that we lost there isn't going to be something that we don't think about here."

Tomlinson has another reason to welcome the Chiefs. Some of the post-game remarks back in October were slaps at the Chargers.

"What sticks out in my mind is them calling us soft last time," Tomlinson said. "Obviously as a player when someone calls you soft you don't like it too much. Finesse team, or whatever you want, we are not a soft team, we are not a finesse team. We can play any game that you want us to play.

"So obviously they beat us and that was our last loss, but then again they said we were soft. So we'll see."

"We just need to win a game at the end of the day," Kansas City head coach Herman Edwards said. "Now we've got to win a tough one on the road against a division opponent that's playing very, very well. My whole mind-set was to win a game; even last week it was to win a game. We need to get back to winning a game."

Denver Broncos: The Broncos didn't express any outrage that the Chargers gave LaDainian Tomlinson a chance to break the NFL single-season touchdowns record with a 21-point lead late in the game. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said there were more than three minutes left, and he didn't blame San Diego for trying to score again.

"Someone not scoring ... wouldn't have been very professional," Shanahan said. "You want to give it all you got."

The Denver Broncos say they can't worry about playoff tiebreaker scenarios.

There are many involving the Broncos, who trail Cincinnati and Jacksonville by a game and are tied with Kansas City and the Jets at 7-6. The Broncos' easiest road to the playoffs would be winning their remaining three games, which includes a Dec. 24 home game against the Bengals, and the Chiefs losing once.

The Broncos say it's too early to look deeply into those scenarios.

"The only time we really study it is the last week of the year," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "All you can do is try to control your own destiny and win some football games and give you a chance."

The Broncos' 7-4 record in AFC games gives them tiebreaker advantages over Jacksonville and the Jets. The Broncos would win the tiebreaker over Cincinnati if they beat them in two weeks. Denver would not win the tiebreaker over Kansas City if both teams win out because the Chiefs would end up with a better division record, so the Broncos want to avoid a tie with the Chiefs.

A more pressing concern is how the Broncos have played lately. Their loss Sunday was their fourth in a row, so discussion about winning out and possible playoff tiebreakers seems a bit out of place.

"What's important is us getting our (expletive) together and beating Arizona, that's it," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "That's all we should be focused on. Everything else will play itself out."

The Broncos fell behind 28-3 in the first half Sunday at San Diego, and former starting quarterback Jake Plummer was one of the most vocal and positive players in the locker room at halftime, many players said. Plummer was removed from his starting role two weeks ago.

"Jake was pretty vocal and trying to get everyone motivated," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "He's been great through this whole situation and he's one of our team leaders."


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